My toddler is screaming. He is covered in blood. I am covered in blood. My heart is pounding. Nausea floods over me, my stomach in my mouth. I cuddle him tightly, too scared to look at the damage. He has just fallen off the side of some stone stairs onto a hard stone floor. I hate those stairs. I knew that they were an accident waiting to happen.
I always claim that children are more bouncy than adults. Kids recover much more quickly that adults from injuries. Which is just as well as they are constantly bumping and bruising themselves.
As they grow up and learn to walk and move around, they are constantly pushing the boundaries to see what they can and can’t do. Scale this sofa? Let’s see what’s on the other side. Bump! Climb some stairs before anyone can stop me? Tumble! How about this high wall? Crash!
The majority of childhood accidents are mild and children recover quickly but did you know that, according to the WHO, every day over 2000 children die from a preventable accident?
It makes you stop and think doesn’t it?
I don’t want to scare you. The world is a large place and that’s only a fraction of the children who are in it. But the point is, those accidents are preventable and there are lots of basic things that we can do to keep our children safe.
Why Do Children Have Accidents?
Children under the age of 4 are most likely to have accidents. Boys have more accidents than girls.
Children are learning about their environment, they are exploring, discovering, testing the boundaries. They do not understand the consequences of their actions. They do not understand that they are putting themselves in danger.
Accidents are most likely to happen when a child isn’t supervised properly or when parents or care givers are stressed, when the routine is different, or the surroundings are different.
How Can You Prevent Childhood Accidents?
Make your surroundings safe.
Child proof your home. (Check out this great post on Child Proofing your House for some tips.)
When you go somewhere new, assess it for potential dangers and do something to prevent them.
A really dangerous window that your children could climb out of? Move a cupboard in front of it so they can’t. If you can’t do anything to change the environment, make sure there is someone with your child at all times.
When we go to my mum’s house in France, she has a swimming pool. I don’t let the children who can’t swim go outside without an adult all year around even though she has a safety cover. I’m not prepared to trust the safety cover with the life of my children. (She’s supposed to have a lockable fence too but doesn’t.)
Supervise and Teach Your Children.
Young children need constant supervision. As they get older, they are able to spend time alone in the safe environment that you have created.
Teach your kids. They need to learn about dangers but in a safe and controlled way. Babies need to learn to climb stairs. You follow behind in case they fall. Older children can learn to use a knife or cook as long as you are there to help them and teach them.
Remember that each child is different and you need to assess them. They will learn skills and abilities at different times.
You cannot prevent all childhood accidents and of course, most children learn when they hurt themselves. Last summer my son learnt not to ride a bicycle with bare feet when he got his foot caught in the spokes. He was sitting on the back, the boy riding thought he was ready but he wasn’t. Sometimes lessons are learnt the hard way, coming from the french doctor rather than your mom who you wouldn’t listen to anyway.
It’s tricky being a parent, we have to find the perfect balance, the balance between letting our children do things and protecting them.
My son is still screaming. I pluck up the courage to peek at his wound. Luckily it is a simple cut in his mouth. It is pouring blood but I know that he’ll be alright.
Those horrible stone stairs that I couldn’t find a way of making safe for young children who would fall off them even when I was within arms reach.
We have since moved to a much more suitable house.
I’m not suggesting that you have to take such drastic measures, but it is always one solution!
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