Being a parent is difficult. No one will argue it. There are many aspects of performing the role of guardian that are inherently challenging. Having a child is a rewarding experience that starts the day a boy or girl is born and lasts forever.
A key area of focus for any parent surrounds the safety of their children. Fostering a secure and welcoming environment can make or break a childhood, and it’s crucial to understand this from day one. Below I focus on a specific area of parenting that can never receive too much attention: the house. The home is the nest that children should feel and be safe within.
The three general phases of childhood and specific measures to focus on within each stage are listed below. Family structure and situations are relative to the individuals involved, but these ideas are meant to lend advice on broad areas of concern.
1. The Toddler Years
As with anything in life, it’s important to start your child’s life on the right foot when it comes to safety. A good start contributes to a successful finish. Toddlers are filled with carelessness and curiosity and it’s your obligation as a parent to harness these traits.
Some precautions to take:
- Make sure heavy objects are out of reach. Just because your child couldn’t reach it last week doesn’t mean that they can’t get to it today.
- Kitchens and bathrooms are no-go zones when it comes to unsupervised toddlers. For one, bathrooms are full of dangerous appliances that when combined with water can prove fatal. Kitchens have many sharp and heavy objects, as well as extremely hot foods and liquids during cooking. A toddler usually has even more mobility and capability than you assume, and it’s important to allow for margin of error on your part. Put things very, very out of reach and locate any obvious hazards in these two areas of the house.
- Be sure to locate and safe proof loose wires and ground level electronic devices. Electrical currents can be deadly if a toddler gets ahold of them in the wrong way. At that age, toddlers can’t tell the difference between a wire and the food you just fed them. It’s worth getting on your hands and knees and truly finding out what hazards are down near the floor at their level.
2. The Pre-Teen Years
The pre-teen are an interesting time period for parents, as children gain traction and awareness. They are still careless, but potential for deviance and more focused curiosity seem to increase by the day. It’s important for parents to avoid getting stuck in idle during this phase and stay on top of safety. The bridge between the toddler years and becoming a teenager is a vital period of adjustment for both parents and the young people they are looking after.
Some precautions to take:
- Be sure to listen to your child. This sounds simple, but it is so important with regards to child safety and development that it can’t be ignored. As your child learns and develops at this age it’s imperative that you as a parent listen to them and help them meet their mental and physical needs.
- This is the phase of childhood when you begin to teach your children to stay away from objects such as a burning stove rather than removing the possibility. These types of progressions should be well thought out and gradual, however, as every child reacts differently to rules and guidelines. Teach them the basics such as the hazardous potential of electrical outlets and the combination of water and electricity. Lay the groundwork, but make sure they understand before letting them handle situations on their own.
- Be sure to put all medicine, alcohol and other potentially dangerous products out of reach. Pre-teens are known to be a little bit reckless when it comes to curiosity, and it’s better to prepare than react when a bad situation is considered.
3. The Teenage Years
Parents and teenagers both struggle often during this time period. It’s not a secret, but the struggles can be mitigated if given attention. The house is an important part of a teen’s life, and it’s important that you as a parent continue the diligence that got you to this point. Teens have so much going on outside the house during this time of their life that it’s vital they feel comfortable at home.
Some precautions to take:
- Not only should you make prescriptions and other medication inaccessible, you should also monitor pill counts and liquid levels. Teenagers become very creative with their curiosity when they reach this age. The same principle applies to alcohol and other substances.
- Make sure to supervise internet use and ask questions frequently. In 2013, cyberspace can really affect teenagers and the way they go about their lives. Without being a ‘helicopter parent’, monitor how your child is using the web. It can’t hurt.
- Continue to reinforce that your home is a forum for communication between you and your child. Not only should it be a safe place physically, but mentally as well.
Parenting is extremely difficult, and the particular challenges evolve as children grow. It’s important to understand that each phase of development is different and that unique forms of safety precautions must be taken to make a house the safe place it should be.
Naomi Broderick is a professional writer who’s secure in her abilities and even more confident in her parenting. When she’s not juggling her three children in the front yard she writes for ProtectYourHome.com, a leader in home security.