What age should your child know when to dial 911? It is a thought most parents have, but hope their child never has to actually use. One of our mommy readers wrote to us asking just this question. She has a 3.5 year old and was wondering if that is too young for him to learn how and when to dial 911. I think that is great age to start, but how do you do it?
Teaching your child to dial 911
Never too young
In my very professional (sense my sarcasm?) opinion, it is never too early to teach your child how to dial 911. As a single mom who works from home and has my toddler with me all while my 6 year old is at school, I should probably teach him how to do this soon (well, he is 1, so maybe when he is able to understand what I am saying). You want to discuss with your child possible reasons for calling 911. Now don’t go scaring him. You don’t want to cause nightmares of someone breaking into their house.
Talk about it
It is important that your child understand that spilling his milk on the floor is not cause to dial 911, you have to discuss situations that are emergencies. Like I said above, try to not make it scary! Questions are better than just telling him. For example, asking something like “What would you do if we had a fire in our house?” Asking questions, rather than just explaining, opens the discussion for him to ask you questions as well. Kids love to play right? So role playing would be a good way to act out what might happen and when they should be calling 911. Practice makes perfect with anything and you want to be sure your child remembers what to do should there be a reason to call 911.
Fun but serious at the same time
It is important that you get your child to understand that even though you are role playing and having fun, calling 911 for fun is not a game. Again, you don’t have to make it a scary thing (we aren’t trying to traumatize your children here!) but getting him to understand that calling 911 is for emergencies only. The emergencies you have talked about. Emphasize how this is a big responsibility to have and you feel that he is such a big boy that you know he can handle it.
Any reason to call 911 can be scary for anyone, especially a child. Children seem to handle emergency situations very well (maybe even better than some adults) when they have been properly prepared for anything they might need to call 911 for. Especially if you or another adult (or child for that matter) in the home have some sort of medical condition that might lead to an incident that would warrant a 911 call.