Smitha, 34, is a working mom and must smartly juggle between household responsibilities and office work during these pandemic times. Her 6-year-old daughter goes down to play with her friends in her society garden. One unfortunate day, one of her daughter’s friends slipped from the slide and had a fall. Smitha’s little one came home running to get an antiseptic bandage for her friend’s wound.
Smitha was amazed by her daughter’s immediate response and action, but was also worried about her safety. It’s comforting to know that our children are competent, especially when it comes to first aid. They can learn survival strategies that human beings should know. Moreover, thinking and talking about potential worst-case scenarios are often helpful. We want to protect our children from fears and allow them to “just be kids”, playing and growing, trusting us to keep everything scary at bay. However, preparing and training them in first aid practices is essential for children, so they use the right methods. All we need to do is combine learning with our day-to-day slips and falls, and our job is done.
The fundamentals are simple. If while playing or by any reason a child gets injured or experiences any bleeding, it’s vital to do the following:
This starts when they’re toddlers. Any scrape, nosebleed, or fall from the mango tree is a teaching moment. You can verbally describe every step you’re taking. Teach them how much pressure must be applied to stop the bleeding. Next, show them how to gently wash the dirt out of the cut with clean water, and then apply a bandage with a bit of compression.
Kids learn best when they feel relaxed and playful. Engage with their natural love of playing doctor by pretending to be their imaginary patient, and telling them your symptoms. Switch roles and let them practice being the calm, reassuring caregiver. Even though you use play in your teaching, be explicit about what your child is learning. Go through the first aid kit together, and have some extra bits of gauze, tape, and cotton balls on hand so your child can practice with real tools. Make sure your family kit is well organised so a child can find recognisable tools quickly and have illustrated instruction pamphlets on hand.
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Often, the most important thing a child can do in a crisis is call for assistance. The child must know where to find the emergency numbers. If these can be memorised with them, even better. Let kids use the phone to practice and memorise the sequence of the emergency numbers, but don’t forget to stress how important it is to never use emergency numbers for play or curiosity.
Kids should get familiar with a basic primary assessment, sometimes abbreviated with the acronym DRAB:
In the end, a kid is still a kid. Part of our job is to assure our kids that they never need to be heroes or overstep their abilities. Make sure children know that their first and most important job is to stay safe themselves, and then help others.