Even though preteens start to behave like little adults, their brains are still not fully-developed, and like kids, they remain poor at judging the true risk of activities. So they still rely on you to help create a safe environment for them, instill the right habits, and teach them how to be safe.
At this stage of development
Between 10 and 12 years old, your preteen will likely feel very independent, and be excited and willing to take on and try new things. On the plus side, this means they may be open to taking on some adult tasks, and helping out more around the house—like mowing the lawn. But they’ll also be more susceptible to peer pressure, will over-estimate their abilities, and will underestimate risk. They tend to feel “invincible”, and often believe that the benefits of risky actions outweigh their costs.
Top safety concerns for your preteen
- Burns and scalds
- Falling during sports or outside activities
- Hurting their head during sports
- Drowning in pools or other open bodies of water
- Being hurt in a car crash
- Getting hit by a car while wheeling on or crossing the street
Safety at home
- Teach your preteen to never to play with matches, lighters, or fireworks
- If your preteen is ready to help cook, show them how to do it responsibly and safely.
- Store household products safely to prevent poisoning.
- Keep medicine labelled, up and out of reach and sight of children, even medicine you take every day.
- Keep all household cleaning products in their original containers.
- 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.
- If your preteen is shorter than 145 cm (4 feet 9 inches), they should still use a booster seat. Most kids are 10-12 years old before they can safely use the adult seat belt.
- Once your preteen has outgrown their booster seat, they should always wear their seat belt in the car.
- Until they’re 13, kids should sit only in the back seat.
- Teach your preteen how to be a defensive pedestrian.
- Teach your preteen to remove headphones and put away cell phones when crossing the street.
- Teach your preteen to ride their bike on the right side of the road, in the same direction as car traffic.
- Make sure your preteen always has working lights on their bike, and a helmet.
Learn more about when to use a booster seat and when to transition to the adult seat belt.
Safety at play
- It’s important that preteens have the freedom to be creative and push their limits.
- Make sure your preteen knows the rules of the road when doing wheeled activities.
- Wear a helmet for appropriate activities like biking, skiing, skating, or snowboarding to prevent a head injury.
- Ensure that older children have adult supervision when swimming in pools or other bodies of water, or go to areas with lifeguards.
- Enroll your preteen in swimming lessons if they aren’t confident in the water.
- When boating, always have your preteen wear an approved life jacket that fits properly.
Helmets save lives and help protect kids (and adults) from injury.