Sometimes little mistakes can turn into big accidents, especially when it comes to the safety of your toddler, who at a moment’s notice can go from 0 to 60 mph in 0.5 seconds flat! These 5 habits can actually save your toddler’s life.
1. Stop, look and listen
This is a good habit to adopt before crossing the road but also before acting in general.
Being aware of your surroundings and learning to listen to people’s words and instructions is a good skill to have. Stop and think before you act, right? Look around, see if there are any dangers and listen to what’s going on around you. Listening to authority relates here as well. This could be a police officer, a teacher, crossing guard, doctor, mommy or grandmother. Learning the art of respect and giving a listening ear when it’s due will be invaluable for childhood, but also all the way into adulthood. I’m sure a few of us have come across an adult or two who could have learned a little more listening when they were younger!
Once they have listening to authority and dangers around them down, then they will be ready to learn critical thinking. Wahoo, opinions! 😉 But FIRST is obedience to those who love them, teach and protect them so they grow in wisdom and character.
2. Hold your hand
When you are dealing with an issue of safety hand-holding should be mandatory.
Issues of safety could include but aren’t limited to: walking close to a road, touring a crowded park or museum or venturing down a narrow, steep stairway. During these moments, it doesn’t matter if your child wants to hold your hand. Please don’t leave this decision of safety in their tiny hands!
It’s our job and responsibility to act responsibly. (Yes, even if that makes them unhappy)
If your child refuses to hold your hand, then you’ll need to either put them in a stroller or hold them. The walking privilege is allowed for those little ones willing and able to assume your instruction (see #5).
In my many years of working with different families and children, a particular phrase I once heard a parent say has stayed with me, “She refuses to hold my hand when we are walking by the road! I ask her to hold my hand. I take her hand and she pulls away or falls on the ground. She doesn’t want to so what am I supposed to do?”
I’ll tell you what you do…You put that little girl right back in her stroller!
It’s okay for yes, even toddlers, to start making the connection that if they are not going to follow rules, they do not enjoy certain privileges. It is really that simple. Its that simple in the work force, its that simple in school, its that simple if you cut in line 😉 and its that simple at home. By all means though, keep giving them chances! This is how they learn and make those connections between their expectations and their actions. When they ask to get out of the stroller, take them out and tell them they may walk if they hold your hand. Try it. If they do, GREAT! If not, then back into the stroller they go. This isn’t a mean thing. It’s an assurance and trust thing.
They will learn to trust what you say when you starting doing what you say.
3. Ask permission
Teaching your children to first consult you or a respected adult before they make certain decision is a very, very good idea.
Take a moment and think about the consequences of a 2-year-old not asking before: going up or down stairs steep stairs, reaching there hand into that silverware drawer filled with sharp knives, giving their baby brother their Doritos chip or leaving with a new acquaintance at the park.
One of the many reasons you are in your child’s life is to provide wisdom, counsel and good judgement for when they can not. God has placed your child in your life on purpose, whether you are a nanny, teacher or mum. We all have a meaning and purpose to where we are and our unique abilities/skills we can impart! When your child is a toddler, they’ll need to ask permission for most things (until they learn the do’s and don’ts of your household). It’s just a good rule of thumb. But eventually this will become less and less. You’ll be able to trust your child to make responsible decisions based on what you have taught them.
4. Take manageable bites
That cracker you just gave her? Its gone! She shoved the whole thing into her little mouth. (Why wouldn’t she, it looks so good!)
It is better to teach your child how to take manageable bites, than to have an emergency room visit after nearly choking to death. I’ve been in this situation and its not pretty. When you see your child’s face turning purple because their airway is being blocked by a big bite they thought they could handle?? Awful. This is a nightmare of an experience. I don’t pray it on anyone.
Children need to be taught. They need to be taught how to treat people, how to dress themselves, how to read and yes, even how to eat. This is why especially during meal time, I keep an extra sharp eye out for teachable moments. I make sure to review our good eating habits and demonstrate what a manageable bite looks like. They usually then are given a chance to show me their ‘small or nice bite’ too. Believe it or not, this is actually FUN for them. To demonstrate how much they know and also they can do it just like you. Within a month or two of teaching this valuable lesson, you will notice how you worry less about your child choking. You’re more confident in the skills you’ve taught them, how cool! It is such a nice feeling!
While you are teaching manageable bits, maybe practice no running or playing while eating also. As they grow and mature, this rule will be amended, but while your child is young, it is a very good practice to keep.
Obeying instruction given from an authority figure is so important.
This includes anyone who is in charge of your children like: a nanny, babysitter, parent, grandparent, etc. It also extends to general authority though, like first and foremost, God, then our president, our policemen, librarians, store owners, bank tellers, cross guards, life guards, teachers and more.
Obedience and respect is the very best way to practice self-control, build character and show the love of Christ.
Before we go teaching our children to be respectful and obedient, it’s paramount that they’re able to identify WHO is worth obeying and respecting. The first individuals they learn are worth respecting and obeying are Jesus, mommy and daddy (in that order 🙂 ). After Jesus, mommy and daddy, come the caregivers next in line whether that be relatives or a nanny/daycare worker. From there, you establish others in their lives that will receive obedience like teachers, doctors and policemen.
It’s extremely important also, to teach our children that if an authority is asking them to hurt themselves or hurt others (in any way) they are not to be obeyed, ever!
With these main principles under their belt, their obedience will be a breathe of fresh air for you. It’s so amazing when you ask something of your child and they DO IT, the FIRST time! What a blessing! They now know you are to be trusted. You say what you mean and you are looking out for their well being. They will be an excellent example of what Christ would have us be. This can’t be underestimated. Remember, we (as the parents and caregivers) are more knowledgeable about life and danger.
No matter what our 2 year old may think they know, we know best and are looking out for them. Obeying at first command/request could save them from awful consequences and scenarios!
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