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Encouraging kids to play outside is important year round. Free play has been shown to help with how children approach problems whether in school or on the playground. In order to keep your kids safe – without hovering over them, I recommend establishing some summer ground rules. These are good to follow:

Street Safety

  • Teach children that the street is nowhere to play.
  • Establish physical limits to where children may play – for example: only in the back yard, or from the mailbox to the light post.
  • Teach your children to look both ways when crossing the street and asking an adult to help to retrieve lost items.

Neighborhood Safety

  • Review stranger danger and what to do if a stranger approaches. Have consequences for your children for not following the rules. 
  • Get to know your neighbors and the kids in the neighborhood. Celebrate your neighborhood night out and become part of the neighborhood watch program.
  • Know where your kids are playing and who your kids are playing with.

Safe Activities

  • Always wear a helmet when biking, blading, skating or riding a scooter.
  • Knee pads and elbow pads are a great idea when skateboarding.
  • If you choose to bounce, establish rules for home trampoline use including one bouncer at a time.

Water and Sun Safety

  • Always apply sunscreen before heading out the door. Reapply every few hours as indicated on the sunscreen.
  • Pools should be behind a fence. Drain kid's pools unless you are able to watch your children while swimming.

Check in with your child throughout the day. Keep them hydrated. Ask them what they have been up to at the end of the day. Talk to your children. Share your own experiences of childhood and how you played when you were younger, this may help to spark ideas in your young ones.

Elizabeth Walenz, MD

Methodist Physicians Clinic Regency

Dr. Walenz answers your questions about child health and parenting. Dr. Walnez loves seeing kids grow and helping them lead a long healthy life. She is especially interested in nutrition, growth and development. She believes in a team approach when caring for children. She thinks it is important to listen to the patient, the parents as well as her health care team when deciding the best care for her patients. She always tries to talk to the children directly and ask them how they are fe ...

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