Safety Practices

Tips for Keeping Children Safe: A Developmental Guide - Preschoolers

By the time they are preschool-aged, children are more independent in their play and their ability to meet their own needs. They focus on learning rules and routines to know what is safe and appropriate. Their constant dialogue with peers and caregivers helps them to form specific ideas about what is safe and why.

Preschoolers move and play with ease. Climbing, running, and jumping are still favorite activities, and they are becoming much better at them. Many children also begin to pedal tricycles, play sports, and attempt more difficult climbing equipment. Their stronger motor skills give them the confidence to constantly try new things. During these years, preschoolers challenge themselves and develop a better understanding of the consequences of their actions. This trial-and-error approach complements the structure and rules teachers and families provide.

Preschoolers' growing cognitive and language abilities help them identify and avoid risks. Some children are able to talk about the challenges they would like to take with teachers and family members, while others are more likely to act impulsively. Many children this age are able to discuss safety rules for their classrooms, homes, or communities. They may ask why something happens or why a certain rule exists. When preschoolers question the rules, teachers can help them understand the possible consequences of not following the rules. Through these conversations, preschoolers learn to identify guidelines that will help them make safe choices.

Depending on a preschooler's temperament, some may question and test every rule. Others may be more cautious and will follow the rules they are given. Preschoolers also may take on a leadership role by offering warnings and praise to their peers and younger children as they begin to understand what is safe and why.

Preschoolers are active learners. Teachers who talk with children about rules and routines help them to make safe choices.