As a parent, when you think about safety these days, there’s more to be concerned with than a fall off a swing or a fight in the schoolyard. You likely regard your home as a safe place, but once you open your garage door, help your child into his seat and fasten his seat belt, new concerns may flood your brain.
Does a Seatbelt Really Keep My Child Safe?
You already know how important it is to wear a seat belt, but your youngsters likely haven’t a clue that there are myriad reasons why seat belts exist. Collisions, road rage, drunk drivers; the world is a scary place when a precious child is tucked into your back seat, so that belt buckle is as much a statement of your faith as it is a protective measure every time to fasten it.
Of course, you do catch a break when your kids are very young. But once your child is old enough to trade a booster seat for the adult world of seat belts, you both move into a new realm with a new set of rules and limitations.
That’s why educating your child about how and why a seat belt is so important is your job and one of the most important ones you’ll ever be given. But how do you find a balance that drives home the lesson of seat belt safety without scaring or worrying them?
By loving them enough to understand the behavior patterns that impact kids’ thinking and employing tried and true techniques that other parents have successfully used to drive home the importance of seat belt etiquette.
Teach Child Seat Belt Safety at an Early Age
Putting on a seat belt immediately upon sliding into a car seat should be both a verbal and visual lesson of monkey see, monkey do. You might even want to use those words repeatedly as you direct this instruction to the back seat and then follow it up by setting an example: “Now it’s mommy’s time to belt up!”
Once you’ve driven home this lesson of compliance in a non-threatening way, it’s incumbent upon you to broaden your message: “Just because you’re not in mommy’s van, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to fasten your belt.” Why is this such a critical statement? From carpooling to neighbor pickups and snagging rides with friends’ parents, your message must ring loud and clear in your absence!
How many rewards will you receive as a parent if you properly instruct your kids in the importance of fastening seat belts immediately upon getting into a car? More than you may realize. This simple action has the potential to save lives should the unthinkable happen and that tensile-reinforced strip of plastic morphs from safety belt to life saver during a period of time that could last just seconds.
Are there more lessons to teach? You bet. You also need to impress upon your child the importance of sitting properly in the back seat once buckled up at all times until they are old enough to occupy a front seat. Stress the importance of not slouching and warn against manipulating the restraint since such actions can impact the way seat belts perform.
In the end, school isn’t likely to impact your youngsters as strongly as you do. And despite claims, even the media can’t displace a parent’s influence because this bond is forged in love, trust and the old-fashioned value of obeying rules. In this unsettled world, the importance of these bonds may be forgotten, but they remain sacrosanct.
That stated, one more topic begs to be addressed: your state’s laws. If you don’t understand them or need a refresher course, you won’t waste your time by reviewing them to make sure you protect your child to the full extent of your ability.
Your job may start and stop with setting an example and following through with reminders delivered in a tone that’s neither nagging nor threatening, but how can you measure the reward of having done such a good job, your youngster never knows what it’s like to be an accident victim? You can’t.
Kids love pleasing their parents so if you remind yours that it makes you really, really happy every time they belt up—that you are delighted each time they put on that seat belt without being asked–it’s also your opportunity to tell them how proud you are of them. And given the critical nature of this subject, having a resource on speed dial in case you or your child are involved in an auto accident can help you sleep more soundly at night.
What if You Have Additional Questions about Seat Belt Safety?
As a Phoenix car accident lawyer committed to all aspects of family safety, principles at Hutzler Law, Phoenix’s premier personal injury practice, are happy to answer your questions and listen to your concerns in the event you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence of others. Why? Because we have children ourselves — which is why we take car accidents involving children very personal.