Your number one house rule should be “We are Safe”. This is the one way to make sure that no one gets hurt or humiliated. This means that adults will not hurt or humiliate a child and children will follow suit. It also means that they will make choices that are safe.
Of course being safe means being in control of our bodies, our words, and our choices. Parents get to be the guardians of what is safe and unsafe and they have to stick to this number one rule as they practice a zero tolerance approach to dangerous play, unsafe decisions or harmful behavior.
Think about the things around your house and the routines in your daily schedule as you decide upon safety standards that will support this number one rule.
Use key words to show you mean what you say…” Danger!” is a great quick phrase that can let even the littlest child know that they are nearing an unsafe zone. Change the tone of your voice when you say this phrase so they can tell you mean it. Get down on their level and point to the danger item as you redirect them to another safer choice. Give them an alternate behavior to take the place of the dangerous choice.
Here is an example of what you might say…”No jumping on the couch. Danger! We can sit or lay on the couch, but we cannot jump on the couch. If we want to jump we can jump on the pile of pillows on the floor. ” Here is how we could say this same statement to an even younger child in a more clear and succinct way, “Danger! No Jump on Couch. No No. We can sit. We can lay. But no Jump. Jump on Pillows. Yes Yes. “
Practice makes perfect, so you might have to demo or role play how to play and be safe. Tell them the story of what could happen if they were unsafe. Talk to your child outside of the moment about these things because having an in depth conversation in the heat of the activity will most likely be unsuccessful.