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NYS Parent Guide

48-60 Months: Growth and Development

You and Your Fabulous Four-Year-Old

Protecting Your Child

Protecting Your Child

Four-year-olds have a growing sense of their abilities and understanding about what dangerous behaviors might lead to (“If I touch the candle, I may get hurt.”). But they still need your support and direction to learn how to protect themselves and to avoid danger.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Establish outdoor safety rules. Remind her often of outdoor safety rules such as: hold hands when crossing streets; stay on the sidewalk; and always use a helmet on bikes, scooters and skateboards (and any other moving toys). Keep an eye on her to be sure she follows these rules. When she makes a mistake (or ignores a rule on purpose) use it as a teaching opportunity: “You forgot to put your helmet on; remember you need that to ride your bike.”
  • Be aware on the playground. Check the equipment, look for loose parts and sharp or rusty edges. Keep a close hand on your child as she tries out equipment until you are certain she can do it alone. Dress her safely: ties on hoods can strangle and flip flops are not a good choice for running and riding toys. Keep your eye on her.
  • Never leave your preschooler alone by any water—indoors or out. It only takes seconds to drown and drowning is a leading cause of death of young children.
  • Child-proof, yet again! Your child can run, jump, and climb into all sorts of places and spaces she couldn’t just a year ago. That means you always want to be thinking about what she might do or get into that could be dangerous and make sure that you have removed that potential danger.
  • Protect your child from “stranger danger”. A rule you may want to consider: your child should never, ever go anywhere with a stranger or, for that matter, a relative or friend unless you (or another trusted caregiver) says it is okay.
  • Protect your child from unnecessary fears. A four-year-old’s imagination is so active that when she becomes fearful of something, that fear is often magnified. Violence seen on TV is a typical source of fear in children. Turn them off.
  • Keep your preschooler healthy. Continue all well-care appointments, scheduled immunizations, and health care provider recommendations. Encourage and supervise hand washing throughout the day. Serve healthy foods and be sure she gets enough sleep.
  • Use an approved forward facing car seat. As your child grows, remember to check the car seat measurements—usually printed on a sticker located on the side of the car seat. It may be time for a booster, in the backseat! Make it a rule: that she can only undo her belt when the car is stopped and you have turned off the motor.

Useful Resources:

Child Safety Tips

For information on how to keep your preschooler safe and healthy, visit:

Car Safety

For information on car safety, visit:

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