What are your family agreements around safety?
August 22rd, 2022
There is a lot for parents to do to keep their children healthy and safe. Beginning with newborns and baby-proofing their space, to toddlers as they begin to take their first steps – the urge to protect them is always present. When children are young, the conversations about fire safety, sharp objects, crossing roads and parking lots are constant and repeated. It is also especially important for parents to discuss body safety and personal boundaries, making sure to explain challenging concepts in ways young children may understand. The work is constant and ever changing.
As children get older, make friends, and develop more independence as young people, the focus and conversations about safety tend to taper off, though they may still pop up in instances of accidents, mistakes, gaming, online device use or dating; at a certain point however, the concepts and conversations around safety seem to fall off all together. While parents will always have concern for the safety of their children, should they assume that their children understand the rules they were taught early on and will follow them? Are parents setting rules that they also follow to set an example?
Children are sponges and take on the traits of parents. Not only is ‘do as I say not as I do’ a worn-out phase, it also doesn’t work.”
There are laws and specific rules about safety which often go ignored by well-educated and developed adults. While the reasons for this are varied, often children observe rules not being followed or come to see that “every rule has an exception.” Children are sponges and take on the traits of parents. Not only is “do as I say not as I do” a worn-out phase, it also doesn’t work. This is why the standards, practices, and agreements families create matter.
Beyond the lessons parents teach, setting family agreements for what keeps everyone safe is important. And these agreements need to be discussed and practiced regularly. An example: fire officials often recommend changing batteries for fire detectors each Spring and Fall for daylight savings time. Officials also want everyone in the house to practice their own fire drill and for the family to set a safe location to meet. Practicing these habits will allow children to know not only what do to, but how they will move their bodies and think critically in the situation. Writing this plan down, setting expectations, and talking about it when the time comes to change the fire detector batteries becomes an agreement and a habit of safety.
When we take time to think about common situations which can present risk, it can be overwhelming to try to address every situation. However, starting somewhere is better than not starting at all. There are several organizations, including Children’s Cove, which offer templates about ways to discuss family safety agreements and help set practices for families.
As school is about to begin, parents might find there are new conversations about safety which come to mind. Take the opportunity to have conversations with your children about your family safety rules.
For guidance or ideas for creating family agreements on safety, take a look at these links:
Take The Pledge to be Safe Online ( from Children’s Cove)
Creating Family Rules (from Centers for Disease Control)
Make your own Family Code of Conduct (from Darkness to Light)