Children are creative, and when they get creative with their things there could be safety issues
Children have inquisitive minds and huge imaginations which help them to learn about the world around them. However, sometimes their imaginations take them to places we never thought of like a table might be a swimming pool; a folding chair might be a stepping stool; a bed might be a trampoline..... This leaf will help you to keep your children, even those with huge imaginations, a bit safer with their toys and furniture.
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Let's look at some things that MIGHT happen when children play and ideas on how to deal with them.
Children's imaginations are wonderful things. They help them to see things in a different light and to "look outside the box". This helps them to learn faster, grow smarter, and become the inventors and creators of tomorrow. But, they often do not think about what could happen as their imagination soars and takes them into worlds unknown. That is where you, as a parent, need to keep a watch and think through your toy and furniture gifts before you buy them.
When a child looks at something, they see more than what is actually there. They might see a chair as a ladder, for instance, or a truck as a weapon. They might see a table as a throne stand or a pair of roller skates as a rolling seat. Their imaginations take them to so many places with the things they acquire that you can’t possibly follow them; however, you can anticipate and adjust as needed. To do this, you have to exercise your own imagination. You have to try to see things the way your children do; the way you did as a child. That way, when you give your child that small radio, you already know (s)he might take it apart and try to use it to power the fire truck they received last year.
Image © Cheryl Simonds
Don’t give up on your children and their imagination! That is a big thing. Your children may use things in ways the manufacturer never thought of, but they are using their imaginations and their brains to create something totally different. You don’t want to squash that or you might just limit how much your child is willing to learn later in life. Instead, encourage it. When your child comes to you with roller skates strapped onto his/her butt and shows you how (s)he can ride them through the kitchen, rather than get angry that they are using them wrong, offer them a skateboard the next time they get something so that they can do the trick safer. In the meantime, ask them to “please don’t use your roller skates like that because it's dangerous, or at least put on your safety gear when you do stuff like that. Oh, and please take it outside, I'd rather not have to explain to your father why the thousand dollar TV he just got is now a pile of glass and wire.”
How does that help? Well, by not yelling, you are telling your child that you will accept their imaginative ideas, you just want them to be safer about it, this actually makes the act less exciting to them and they may just put the roller skates on correctly the next time. Also, you aren’t squashing their imagination, just preventing them from getting hurt, or at least not hurt as bad. And, just to be daring, why not get them something that is supposed to spark their imagination and the roller skates might just become a thing of the past (or next week's trash can ride-who knows).
Why not give them something they are supposed to use to create?
No one wants their children to get hurt....
But, your children are growing and learning. They want to know how things work, if they can work differently, and whether they are dangerous or not. Telling them isn’t enough (remember when you were a kid and your mother said don't do that or you'll get hurt?). Most children have to learn on their own because they are curious. Small bumps, bruises, cuts, scrapes, etc. are a fact of life. Don’t make a big deal out of them and the little ones won’t either. Instead they will learn from the incident and generally not do it again. I find that when the injury is minor, asking the child if they broke the item they fell on (ie the floor, sidewalk, or the chair) often helps them forget the bump on their arm because they are worried about the item and will check to see if they did actually break it. Of course, most of us (me included) will look at the item and imagine the danger and then try to curb the child's imagination before it becomes dangerous--but we shouldn't. None of us should. You have to be a brave parent and let the kids get those bumps and bruises (I know **cringe**), that will teach them far better than a lecture on safety from you.
Of course, serious injuries are something to get worked up over, however you must keep your head in those cases as well. Children often can be kept calm if you remain calm. If you panic, so will the child and that will make the injury worse because they will move and increase the injury damage.
Image © Cheryl Simonds
Is this you? "OMG, now what? Do I just get pillows and PJs for them? Or will they use them as a hero character and jump off the bed onto the pillows as they 'fly' to the rescue?"
Is there anything you should be aware of?
YES! Not every child is alike. Some develop faster, some develop slower, some seem to pick up on things faster or slower, etc. This does not mean there is anything wrong with the child by any means. Children are naturally different from each other just as adults are different from each other. They have their own learning curve and their lessons will be learned accordingly. Don’t get upset if your little one seems to be learning a bit slower than his/her peers. (S)he will catch up eventually. Or your child is way ahead of the others, they just learn faster. Of course, if the difference seems to be large, such as the six month old still isn’t holding up his own head, then you might want to consult a doctor to see if there is a medical issue.
But the point of this is that children all develop differently. There is a lot of you in there, but there is a lot of their other ancestors as well. So consider what they might do and then be prepared for the unknown. When it happens, take a deep breath, count to 20 and encourage them to be safer with their ideas!
What, it could work, like when your four-year-old climbs into the freezer to see how cold it is---alright, I know, your heart just jumped into your forehead and skipped six beats, right? Yeah, but just think what that child would do with an education and a mechanical piece of equipment. Think big, no not 'that big', 'THAT BIG'. Why your little one could be the next scientist who discovers how to flash freeze food in a machine smaller than a microwave right in your own home. Oh yeah, before you start imagining their claim to fame, you might want to get them out of the freezer before they get freezer burn.
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Now that you are armed to the teeth with the information about purchasing things for your little one...
Is there anything else you should worry about?
Yes, recalls! Why is it that the stores and manufacturers always put those recalls on bulletin boards by layaway or hidden away in an ad for their latest products? How is a busy parent supposed to keep up with all of those recall notices to see whether or not they purchased that item? The answer is: you can't. So, when you purchase an item for your little ones, look for a registration card. If there is one, fill it out immediately and send it in! That way if there is a recall on that particular item, you will receive notice in the mail-in fact you will receive it long before the stores receive anything. Worried that the manufacturer will use the information for other purposes? They probably will, but tossing the ads in the recycle bin is a lot easier than watching your child get hurt because of a faulty product.
Will these ideas and suggestions keep your kids from getting hurt? Probably not; but they will help to prevent the children from getting hurt too often. Just remember these few rules and especially remember that your child is different. Before you buy, think “what would (s)he do with this item?” But before you put it back on the shelf, also think about what they might learn from the item. Believe me, you will be very glad you did.