If your child is between 5 and 9 years old, they could be feeling—and acting—extremely independent, and will take many more risks when they play. But their brain is still developing, and they won’t really understand the possible consequences of the risks they take. So it’s up to you to help create a safe environment for them, and to start teaching them how to be safe.
At this stage of development
Older children will often overestimate their abilities, and underestimate the risks around water, on the street, at the playground, and at home. At this age, when they’re feeling more independent than ever, they’ll be drawn to taking risks—and some risk-taking behaviour is important for their development. But their poor understanding of the risks can lead to an increase of some injuries.
Top safety concerns for your older child
- Falling when playing outside
- Swallowing poisons like medicine or cleaning products
- Being hit by a car when walking or crossing the street
- Being hurt in a car crash
- Hurting their head when playing sports
- Drowning in a pool or body of water
Safety at home
- Wait until your child is at least 6 years old before you let them sleep in a bunk bed.
- Keep floors and stairs clean, dry, and tidy to help prevent falls.
- Attach heavy furniture and televisions to the wall with safety straps.
- Keep furniture away from windows.
- Continue adult supervision during bath time.
- Turn pot handles in towards the back of the stove and use the back burners when possible.
- Store all poisonous garage and yard products up high in their original containers.
- Keep all poisons like medicines, vitamins, and cleaning products in a locked cupboard.
- Add your local poison control numbers to your phone contact list: in NS and PEI call 1-800-565-8161, in NB call 811 or 911, and in NL call 1-844-POISONX.
Safety on the road
- Drive slowly, cautiously, and with complete and total awareness of your surroundings.
- Use a booster seat with the seat belt until your child is at least 4 feet 9 inches (145 cm) tall and the seat belt fits correctly.
- Make sure the seat belt fits low on your child’s hips and tight across their chest.
- Keep your child in the back seat until they are 13 years old.
- Make sure your child crosses the street with an adult or another child older than 10 years old.
- Teach your child to remove headphones and put away cell phones when crossing the street.
Car seats save lives and protect kids from injury in a car crash.
Learn more about how to choose, install, and use a car seat or booster seat.
Safety at play
- Choose the right helmet and safety gear for your child’s sports and activities.
- Make sure your child’s helmet fits properly by using the 2V1 Rule: two fingers above the eyebrows, straps form a V under the ears, and one finger under the chin strap.
- Be a role model and wear your helmet.
- Watch your child closely when playing in and around water.
- Use life jackets until your child is a strong swimmer.
- Choose playgrounds with gravel, sand, wood chips, or rubber on the ground.
- Let your child take healthy risks and be active when they play.
- Make sure your child knows the rules of the road when doing wheeled activities.
- In warm weather, encourage your child to apply sunscreen regularly, drink lots of water, and stay in the shade between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Helmets save lives and help protect kids (and adults) from injury.