How Children Develop Safety Skills

What is Safety?

Children require a safe environment to grow and develop. Read about how children develop safety skills. Infants and toddlers learn through the exploration of their environments but are vulnerable to harm due to the combination of their curiosity and enthusiasm, limited self-control and lack of cognitive understanding of potential dangers. Therefore assuring the basic need of physical safety in a childcare environment is essential. Safety issues are ever-present and ever-changing based upon the developmental skill level of a child. With each new stage of growth, there are new determinants of what defines a safe environment.

Once a child rolls, there is potential of knocking items down on top of himself. When a child is able to pull up to stand, there is access to items on tabletops and when a child can crawl or walk, there is access to
stairs. The mouthing of objects to explore creates the need for vigilance about small items and choking potential, as well as increased concern about germ transmission.

how children develop safety skills - safety skills description with two boys sliding down a yellow slide

Why is Safety Important?

Children demonstrate safe practices as they identify, avoid and respond to dangerous situations. It includes
the ability to seek help when needed and respond appropriately in emergency situations. The early years are
shown to be important for establishing safe practices and coping skills throughout life (Burger, 2010). Children evidence safety skills as they show awareness of and demonstrate safe practices when participating in various activities.

How Do Children Learn Safety Skills Over Time?

Infants demonstrate early safe practice skills when they express distress when needs are not met.

Toddlers respond to possible dangers in their environments, follow simple safety rules and actively avoid dangers when prompted.

Preschoolers describe reasons for safety rules and remind others to follow them. They identify dangers and how they could be hurt.

Primary schoolers identify emergency situations and successfully describe how to get help and behave during the emergency. They take appropriate initiative in dangerous and emergency situations.

READ: Prepare and Prevent: Safety Practices in Early Childhood Programs

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