Teaching Children to be Safe Pedestrians

By: Stephanie Shabangu, Penfield Children’s Center

As parents and caregivers, it is our responsibility to keep our kids safe. We hold their hands, teach them not to touch a hot stove and make sure outlets are covered (among many other things!). In addition to the actions we take, it’s just as important to teach them how to keep themselves safe since we cannot be near them every second of the day.

While we might know how to child-proof our homes, it’s also important to consider safety outside, especially near the street. According to safekids.org, “Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19.” With this in mind, here are 5 important tips for keeping kids safe on the sidewalks and roadways.

  1. Stop, look and listen. Teach your child to look left, right and then left again before crossing the street. They should continue to look both ways as they cross as cars can enter the road your child is crossing very quickly.
  1. Dress your little one in bright colors. Do your children walk to school or to the bus stop? Make sure to layer on some reds, oranges, yellows and pinks to make sure drivers see them. If need be, add reflectors to clothing or ask your child to carry a flashlight, especially in the wee hours of the morning or at dusk.
  1. Cross the street at crosswalks and when possible, make sure your children walk with crossing guards. During the morning rush to school and work, drivers can be distracted and driving faster than the speed limit in order to make it to their destinations on time. The extra amount of protection from road signs and crossing guards helps bring attention to children crossing the street.
  1. Put phones and other electronic devices away while near the road. It’s important that you and your child can see and hear what’s going on around you and are not distracted.
  1. Teach children to make eye contact with drivers when crossing the street. This way your child sees the car and the driver is just as aware of your child.

In addition to these five tips, one of the most effective ways to teach your children how to be safe pedestrians is to model safe behavior yourself. If you as the caregiver dash into the street without looking or text while you’re walking down the sidewalk, so will your children.

Another thought to keep in mind regarding safety is that by teaching our children how to stay safe, we’re also building their confidence and self-awareness so that they are empowered to make good choices and become teachers themselves.

What steps have you taken to keep your little one safe on the road?



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