Safety Policies and Behavior Management
Because of developmental factors that limit children’s physical, mental and emotional abilities, they may lack the capacity to judge whether or not an activity is safe. It is the responsibility of educators to provide children with a safe environment and to ensure their well-being and protection. Safety policies for modifying the environment, modifying behavior, monitoring children and teaching injury-preventive behaviors to children will help the educator offer more safety protection and prevention in every early childhood situation.
The action of a child is the most common behavior leading to injury. The majority of behaviors displayed by a child are related to his or her developmental level. The adult behavior that can contribute to a child’s injury can be active (such as child abuse or violence) or inactive (such as lack of supervision, knowledge, communication, etc.).
In designing safety policies, understand the safety hazards in the early childhood environment and know what hazards are addressed by local licensing regulations and fire prevention boards. You need to check both inside and outside for hazards while applying special safety considerations to small children. Viewing the environment through the eyes of a child will help you find safety hazards and create safety checklists that offer maximum protection. Get down at the child’s level so that you can see what the child sees.
Each type of safety hazard should have steps to follow to avoid risk. For example, if a field trip is scheduled, there should be a definite policy for travel with children. This would include trip planning and preparation, assuring enough adults for proper supervision, and procedures to follow during the trip.
It is essential to have knowledge of the developmental abilities of the children. The abilities of the children will affect the types of safety policies. These policies should be clearly written, based on standard safety practices and licensing regulations, specific to the hazard involved, and applicable to the specific environment. Additionally, if the child has a disability or other special need, such as behavior issues, there should be a special care plan on file.
Safety policies include guidelines, checklists and charts that help to protect the child care environment from hazards. These policies will guide the educators in methods of practicing safety and should name the person who is responsible for carrying out the safety process that is developed. The guidelines should address the areas where risks are anticipated, and how the environment should be modified and monitored for safety. Be sure to consider children who have sight or mobility restrictions.
Be a positive role model: keep in mind that your own attitudes and behaviors are as important as the physical environment of your facility. Role modeling should reflect the behaviors the educator wishes to pass on to the children. Education and supervision also help you maintain a safe child care environment. To prevent injuries in the early childhood program, a safety policy and plan should be implemented.
Examples of safe practices that can be used for safety policies:
- Explaining safety actions to the children
- Practicing safe activities in the child care and community environment
- Using safety devices such as smoke alarms and electrical outlet plugs
- Being sensitive to unsafe conditions
- Having daily routines for safety checks
- Removing hazards to ensure a safe physical environment
- Educating oneself on safety issues and practices
- Communicating with parents about safety measures
- Teaching what to do in an emergency and clarifying the educator’s safety behavior during practice drills and role-play
- Using special care plans for children with disabilities, behavior issues, and/or special health care needs.