Posted by Michael Hixson on December 19, 2013
Even the absolute best parents have somehow occasionally forgotten to snap the buckle on their child’s car seat, or had their jubilant little tike run out in the road, or seen him or her play around in a crowded parking lot. It’s natural--they, as kids, are experiencing everything for the first time and their unbridled enthusiasm gets the best of them. Often, these animated outbursts of pure energy are due to a lack of procedures being in place for that specific activity. Procedures, you say? Yes procedures, also known as routines, meaning that for certain tasks where safety could be an issue, you set in place a means of accomplishing the task that is done the same way every time the task is handled.
You are truly Super Parent if you’ve never forgotten to actually buckle the latch of your child’s car seat, so pat yourself on the back. However, most parents have done this at least once, to find their tike standing about the cabin of the vehicle or sitting in their seat with an unsettled look upon that little cherub face. Of course this creates a feeling of horror within Mom or Dad. This is where procedures would come in very handy--especially with multiple children who need help getting buckled in. Develop a specific way or order for getting in the car. Perhaps you have all the children enter the vehicle from the same side door, buckling in one child and then going around to the other side of the vehicle to buckle the other(s). If you’ve just come from the store and have bags or packages with you, make a routine of getting your children inside the car and buckled first; then proceed to unload packages. Another part of the routine could be to ask aloud--each time before starting the engine--if everyone is buckled in, eyeballing each child to ensure the accuracy of their answers. Such seemingly simple procedures, when followed each and every time you’re traveling by vehicle, would ensure that no buckles are left undone before your trip.
Parking lots are notorious for kids running and playing around as they make their way from vehicle to building or building to vehicle. It’s far too common to see children running ahead--through a busy parking lot--as their parents walk behind. About 10% of vehicular accidents involving children do not happen in traffic, but in our parking lots or driveways. Such endangerment is absolutely avoidable, with routines that you, as the parent, establish and enforce. For younger children, the procedure could be that they must hold their parent’s hand as they walk in the parking lot. For older children, the routine could be that they must stay right beside their parent(s) as they traverse the lot. Simply state that parking lots are no place for playing. Enforce strict no running and no playing rules for parking lots, in particular. These reasonable expectations, when enforced, dramatically cut the chances of your child being injured in a parking lot.
Not everyone lives in a rural setting, where their children have acres upon acres to freely run and play. In fact, more families live in suburban and urban areas than rural areas, where yard space is limited and traffic is at least sometimes present. This is another arena where establishing procedures and routines will benefit your child’s safety. Rather than just letting the kids run wildly out the front (or back) door at play time, set procedures for safely exiting the home and where precisely in the yard the kids are allowed to play. Set firm boundaries for staying away from antennas, power poles, and streets during play, especially those roads with regular traffic. If there are less safe areas of your yard--a pool or spa area, perhaps--explain and expect that your child(ren) stay away from those areas. Enforce these procedures and make such items a non-negotiable condition of their outside play. When it’s time to come inside, establish routines for putting away yard toys before coming indoors to wash up. Again, these minor adjustments to expectations will increase your child’s safety.
The terms routine and procedure may seem stringent and formal, but, really, they are a natural part of living and functioning in our modern world. If you think about it, you have procedures you follow every day, you just perhaps don’t call them procedures or routines. Creating procedures or routines for certain activities or tasks--and following them--increases safety for your children. After all, ensuring your children’s safety is a vital aspect of parenting. Take the bull by the horns and establish procedures and routines for the safety of your child; he or she will thank you for it.