Remember in the olden days, when it seemed like every child was out playing in the street, and the whole world was one big playground? Alas, times have changed. People are more reluctant to let their children play outside now, even though the data shows that the world is safer than it was in the past. Perhaps it’s just easier to give a child a tablet device and have them sit in the living room, where you can keep an eye on them. But before you take that option, remember that there’s a long list of benefits to playing outside: it’s adventurous, it connects children with other kids, and it’s fun. Providing everything is kept safe, it’ll be beneficial to all! Below, we run through some tips to help you keep your children safe in the neighborhood.
Create a Fun Yard
Being outside doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your property. If you create a fun yard area in front of your home, then your children will be able to play outside and also feel a part of the wider world. They can talk to other kids passing by, soak up the sunshine, and have a swell time, all without leaving your property. If you live on a busy road, then make sure you have a fence that’ll prevent the kids from leaving without your supervision.
Playing Sensibly With Other Kids
But of course, the best case scenario is that you live on a relatively quiet road, and that your children are able to leave your property and play with the other kids on the street. You can’t, however, just let them go off on their own, and hope that they’re going to get along well. Before you allow them the freedom to go and play, make sure they know how to play appropriately with other children. If they don’t, you could end up getting an angry visit from another parent. That would not be good for the peace and tranquility of the neighborhood.
Where to Play
To your child’s eyes, the whole world might look like one big playground, but you know better than that. There’ll be some areas of your street and the wider community that are more conducive to safe play. For example, the quieter end of the street would make more sense, as there’ll be fewer cars and hazards than at, say, the end of the road that opens up to a busy road. And of course, if there’s a play area that’s overlooked by houses and is very close to your home, then that’s a good spot for play.
How Far They Can Go
Humans are natural adventurers. By the time we reach adulthood, however, most of our adventuring tendencies have been drilled out of us. In kids, this spirit is still strong! So they’re not going to be afraid of pushing boundaries and venturing beyond the next corner, or over the next road, just to see what’s on the other side. But of course, the further they venture from your home, the more danger they’ll be in. If they’re leaving your property, make sure they know how far they’re able to go. Everything will be much less stressful for you if you understand that they can only be a small radius from your home when you need to find them.
The bulk of us love dogs, and the rate is even higher among children. And how could it be any other way? They’re big fluffy teddy bears that are bags of fun to play with. But of course, while most dogs are friendly, some are aggressive, and in any case, all can become so if they feel threatened. If there are dogs in your neighborhood, then make sure your child knows the correct way to interact with them. Alternatively, you may wish to impose a blanket “do not approach dogs when I’m not there” rule. A child – indeed, anyone – can suffer serious injuries after a dog bite, and it’s best not to take any chances. The same can be said for approaching any animal, even cats. Your child just wants to play, but the animal won’t know that.
Put Up Signs
Most drivers are considerate when they drive through a suburban area, but this isn’t always the case. Some don’t slow down as much as they should. They would, however, most likely reduce their speed if they were prompted to do so. If drivers are moving too fast down your street, then consider putting up a sign that tells them there are children at play in the area. It’s an effective way to get people to change their behavior and make your neighborhood safer.
What to Do If Something Goes Wrong
You can do much to prevent bad things from happening, but that doesn’t mean there’s a zero percent chance of something going wrong. When it does, your children need to know what to do. Make sure they have your phone number and a fully charged phone when they leave to play. You should also stress that they should call as soon as something goes wrong and that they won’t be in trouble for whatever has happened. Some children don’t contact their parents because they think they’ve done something wrong; you can reassure them that the only important thing is that they’re kept safe.
Speak With Other Parents
You’re a neighborhood of families, and that means there’s a whole network of other parents with whom you can work to keep your area safe. It all starts by speaking to them. If the children know each other, then so should the parents. By getting friendly with the other people on your street, you’ll create a neighborhood watch, of sorts. It’s much better to have multiple eyes on the kids playing outside rather than just your own.
There are real merits to playing outside for children, so give them the freedom to do so – but take the steps above to make sure that they’re kept safe.
Disclosure – I have teenagers who constantly need something and a husband who thinks items like race cars and boats are toys. So, throughout the blog you will find affiliate links that enable me to buy a bottle or two or three of wine to keep my sanity intact.