Injury prevention for children
To keep children safe during physical activity and play, you can look at whether their bodies, environments and skills are safe for the activity.
Your child can avoid most injuries by:
- doing activities she's physically prepared and strong enough for
- doing activities that use her own body weight in short bursts - for example, monkey bars or skipping
- wearing appropriate safety gear - for example, helmets, shin guards or mouth guards
- drinking water before, during and after playing
- being sun safe by wearing sunscreen and hats during hot or sunny weather
- warming up before sport and gently stretching afterwards
- getting the right treatment if an injury does happen.
It's also important for your child to:
- play in areas that are free of hazards like broken equipment, uneven surfaces and sharp rubbish
- play sports that are suited to his size and ability
- not stay too long in cold water when swimming
- wear clothes that are suited to the environment
- avoid playing outdoors during extreme heat.
You can also keep your child safe by making sure she:
- does a variety of activities
- avoids specialising in sport at a young age
- doesn't play only one sport all year long - perhaps try mix it up by getting her to play a different sport each season
- plays sports that have been modified or designed for children
- practises the skills she needs for activities like climbing, balancing and catching
- understands and follows the rules of any game or sport she's playing.
Emotional injury prevention
Physical activity can improve a child's self-esteem and reduce anxiety and stress. But feelings can get bruised and knocked about during physical activity too!
Here are ways to look after your child's overall happiness and wellbeing when he's involved in physical activity and sport:
- If your child doesn't want to do a particular type of physical activity, try not to force it. It can help to talk about the reasons she doesn't want to do it, and help her think of other activities to try.
- If your child needs some help to build skills and confidence, look for a friend he can practise with at home.
- Try to keep your child away from criticism, abuse or shouting from other players, spectators, coaches or parents. Physical activity is meant to be about fun.
- Ask other parents if they know about any coaches, teams and competitions that they feel are positive and fair to all children.
- Praise your child's efforts, point out personal bests, and notice when your child improves at something.
- Be a great role model for staying positive about your child's physical activity and effort. Simply saying 'I love to watch you play' can make a huge difference.