If you have a child, you have most likely cleaned thousands of scrapes and provided just as many bandages to their friends. The carefree and joyful playfulness that are the hallmarks of childhood, unfortunately can sometimes result in injuries and accidents. Teaching your kids a bit about first aid can help them become more independent and give you the chance to occasionally enjoy an extra sip or two of your afternoon tea.
Situations Kids Can Handle vs. 9-1-1-Level Events
Nearly all children are thrilled at the prospect of learning First Aid. After all, many of them have played doctor or nurse for years and relish the opportunity to do it “for real” with real bandages and other supplies. Since kids are naturally helpful, they will want to intervene. Unfortunately, sometimes they get a bit carried away and think they can handle it all. For this reason, you need to directly tell your child which emergencies they can handle and when they need to tell an adult to call 9-1-1. Children should also eventually be taught how to call 9-1-1 by themselves. Some emergencies that typically need a trip to the emergency department include:
- ingestion of poison
- asthma attacks
- insect stings with reactions
- animal bites
- injuries involving the head or face to screen for head trauma
- and deep cuts or those that don’t stop bleeding.
Some First Aid tasks that kids can safely perform include applying ice to minor bruises, cleaning cuts and scrapes, covering a cut with antibiotic ointment and putting on bandages. You can also teach them the signs of wound healing so they can ask for more help if needed.
Don’t Skip Any Steps
When training your child in First Aid skills, you need to be sure to not skip any steps. Actions that seem ridiculously obvious to you may not be so simple to a child. For example, washing their own hands or using hand sanitizer before helping a friend run warm water over their wound may seem like an obvious step to you, but it is one frequently forgotten by both children and adults in emergency situations.
One step that most parents fail to tell their children about is gathering the materials. Ice packs and antibiotic ointment are never going to materialize in an emergency. Be sure to show your child where to get them. Basic first aid kits are easily available online and will allow everyone to focus on giving much-needed care instead of scrambling for supplies during an emergency.
Before attempting to teach your child any First Aid skill, list every step you take during the procedure beginning with gathering the materials. This will give your lessons a sequential flow that makes it easier for children to understand.
Be Sure They’ve Got It
When teaching children, you must frequently stop and make sure they’ve got it. While questioning is useful, the best way to determine if a child can perform a step is to watch them do it. It is only by watching them demonstrate that you can spot common mistakes such as forgetting to remove the backing from a bandage or squeezing way too much antibiotic ointment onto a cut.
Keep Lessons Short
Depending on your child’s age and abilities, an individual lesson might be putting on a bandage or taking it out of its package. Remember, start slow and be prepared to frequently review.
As your kids master basic First Aid skills, they will become more independent and helpful community members.