Looking out for your kids' safety is usually right at the top of the self-written job description of any parent. And it's probably going to take up most of your time because let's be honest, kids seem to have a self-destruct mission programmed into their little heads.
So how many times a day do you say the phrase 'be careful'?
The thing is, 'be careful' isn’t really a very specific or actionable phrase. It either gets ignored or in some children, instils unnecessary fear or anxiety. A lot of the time we say the phrase in response to our own anxiety.
'Be careful' teaches kids that they should avoid taking risks, trying new things and making mistakes because bad things could happen. And yes, bad things can happen, but kids need to engage in risky and challenging play for healthy growth and development. (Check out our blog post on "The Importance of Risky Play")
Next time you go to say “Be Careful!” try this instead.
- Notice how… these rocks are a little bit slippery?
- Do you see… the edge?
- Try moving… your feet slowly, carefully, quickly
- Try using your… hands to get more balance
- Do you feel… stable on that branch, balanced?
- Are you feeling… scared, excited, tired, safe?
- What do you think you will happen here?
- Does that feel safe?
Telling kids to 'be careful' can be an effective prevention to immediate reactions. But even if the phrase wasn't overlooked, it does not teach them to self-regulate physical risk factors and to learn to protect themselves for the more crucial moments - when you are not there.
Maybe it's food for thought, and as always we love to hear what resonates for you. Tell us in the comments below.