Road safety is a fundamental part of the education that everyone should receive, invaluable for learning habits that are safe and respectful to others. There is an argument as to whether this should be taught at school. Without getting into this debate, it is fundamental that we understand that, as parents we must provide an education for our children (which is not the same as teaching or instructing them)
We should start with road safety as soon as possible, starting early will ensure that they are aware of dangerous situations, such as a child escaping from their parents hand and running towards the road.
Children learn a lot by imitating the behavior of adults, especially their parents. We must never forget: children understand the things their parents do normally to be correct, even if it isn’t.
The bad habits we have as adults, our lack of road safety knowledge, bad practices and mistakes stay in the mind of the child, which makes it much more difficult to correct them later. Children must be protected, true, but it is much more important that you prepare them to protect themselves and this is achieved be setting a good example.
When we are out with our children make sure that children understand that they must always use the sidewalk holding an adults hand and be very careful not to step onto the road as the cars can injure them. They cannot cross the road anywhere they please, they must use a pedestrian crossing and if it is one with lights, they must wait until it is green, always remembering to look both ways before crossing.
In the same manner, when we are in the car, children learn many things, some of them, which will stay in their mind until they become adults and drivers. The first thing they should learn is that when they are in the car they must remain seated and use a seatbelt. If they see their parents use a seatbelt, they will too.
We must take care not to drive erratically and always respect other road users. Children will learn this behavior without us having to tell them. We mustn’t shout insults when another driver has annoyed, this is the type of behavior that stays in a child’s memory and as they grow up they will react in the same bad tempered way.
As well as setting a good example, we can reinforce their learning by explaining in simple direct terms why certain things are done; trying to make it into a game is even better.
Simple phrases like reminding a child that we wear a seatbelt in the car to be safe, we wait at a pedestrian crossing until the little man turns green can be turned into a game. See who is first to say the lights have changed etc.
Children also learn by repetition and by habits. You can’t do one thing one day and the next day another (one day using a crossing and the next, no), this becomes confusing to a child. You must be consistent and keep this idea of setting a good example in mind at all times, children are learning an assimilating information all the time.
Don’t forget: take advantage of this to set a good example in road safety.