This post is sponsored by TAC but has a really important message….
“Learn to pick your battles”. As a family counsellor and parent educator I am often reciting this line to those struggling with family conflict or everyday stress. Sometimes we need to ensure we don’t allow the tension and anxiety of the small decisions to take over the emotional energy we need to be savouring for more pressing concerns.
I am a fairly relaxed parent in many ways. I can get over the fact that my kids refuse to wear long pants despite often having to endure arctic like conditions. I have been known to give in to a biscuit before breakfast, an ice cream when dinner wasn’t finished and to let a dubious clothing choice pass.
I believe in parenting from a place of understanding and perspective in order to allow our kids to see the benefit of discussion and compromise. So sometimes, the rules that are for the most part there to be enforced, can in reality, be found to be somewhat flexible.
There are some decisions I make for my family however, that are not negotiable.
These are the rules that don’t allow for compromise, that don’t require lengthy discussion and that cannot be flexed, skewed or sent off course.
For the most part these rules are those pertaining to my kids’ safety. And as a parent, obviously this is one of our greatest responsibilities. We know this is sometimes out of our control. But instilling in our kids behaviours that allow them to make the best choices for their own safety as they grow, must be one of our highest priorities.
Many of these rules that are not negotiable in our family, relate to road safety:
Holding hands to cross the road: this is a no brainer for the younger kids. Aside from making them hold our hand, we can talk about how we know when it is safe to cross and get them involved in making the decisions about crossing safely. As my kids have got older I hope the lessons they learnt watching and listening as we crossed the road together have ensured they have the skills to do so safely on their own.
Seatbelts in a car: again a no brainer but also one that parents need to ensure they are always doing too. I would have thought this one wouldn’t need mentioning but according to recent reports it seems some parents and their children, are still not ‘buckling up’.
Wearing a helmet: when on a bike or scooter they cannot leave the house without a helmet. Again as this is a rule that was started early, there are very few questions ever asked. It just becomes something that must happen and something they know is a ‘non negotiable’.
Kids behaviour is usually a habit that then becomes the norm. It is the role of the parent to ensure that the best habits are being formed early, to ensure the best behaviour and decision making later on.
If we want to allow our kids to learn from their mistakes and build on their independence then by all means let them dress themselves or pour their own drinks. But when it comes to being safe on and near roads, then the behaviours must be taught right from the start, and the choices, non negotiable.
What are the ‘non negotiable’ rules in your family?
For more information on teaching road safety you can check out ThingleToodle on Youtube
This Post Has 7 Comments
I am with you Martine. I’ve always been paranoid about road safety as we live on a relatively busy street with a bus passing as well. You can never be too careful when it comes to road safety. x
Absolutely Vanessa, and those buses are mighty big and can go mighty fast!
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I am obsessive when it comes to road safety and it is non-negotiable. We live on a very, very busy main road that has a speed limit of 70 km/h. They aren’t even allowed out the front by themselves and the front door is religiously locked and the key hung up high on a nail at the top of the door jamb, that even a preschooler on a chair has no hope of reaching. The toddler is not allowed to walk to the car, the only time she is allowed to walk out the front is with one of us on the verandah, usually when we go out to watch the rain.
Crossing the road is the same, toddler is carried while the preschooler holds my hand. The daycare is across the road so it’s a really great way to talk about road safety with them and demonstrate the things we need to do to cross safely. I just hope that all of this is sinking in to their subconscious and will be something they remember, always. I saw a little girl get run over by a bus when I was 10 and the memory has never left me. I hope never to see something like that ever again!
We live on a very busy road too Kylie and it certainly makes you super vigilant. Which I think is a good thing as sometimes those who live in supposedly quiet street think that this makes them safer.
I completely agree. Safety first. I remember riding as young kids and my brother hit a small rock and flew over the handle bars and split his helmet. I would hate to think what would have happened if he wasn’t wearing one. Riding, scooting, boarding my kids either wear a helmet or don’t participate. I don’t believe there is room to negotiate on some matters.
Totally agree with the article and the comments. We have two daughters aged 8 and 6, not only do they hold hands with us when crossing any road, be it at a crossing or out the front of our home, they also hold hands with each other. We want to teach them not only to look out for themselves, but also look out for any other kids that may be about.
As for seatbelts and helmets it is as you say a no-brainer. No belt, no travel, no helmet no ride. The other non-negotiable on a bike or scooter is wearing the right footwear, I can’t remember how many times as a child myself I skinned my feet and toes when they slipped off the pedal.
Sometimes there are lessons kids have to learn on their own, but some lessons can come at a horrendous cost. My wife as an emergency nurse at a public hospital sees so many avoidable injuries to children who just didn’t know better through either lack of education (read guidance) or a momentary lapse in concentration which we are all guilty of no matter how hard we try.
My children are the light of my life and the one promise I made to them is that if at all possible, their dad will not let them get hurt. No bubble wrap, no princesses, fall over and pick yourself up, happy for them to explore their world and challenge themselves, but neither my beautiful wife or I take a chance where the consequences can be catastrophic.