Practice Safety by Building a Model Neighborhood

So often I hear parents worried about the safety of their children around roads. How can they deal with a sometimes out-of-control toddler while around roads?

One thing you can do, and build their mental skills while doing it, is build a model neighborhood. Then have a favorite figurine or doll pretend to walk around the neighborhood obeying traffic laws.

I recommend this starting at Toddler Milestone 10, which is 2 years, 9 months, named “Mental Picturing.” I will add it to several milestones around this time as it still applies. The dominant new skill at this milestone is an ability to conjure up an image in their mind and reason about it. As a simple example, they might point to an apple and say “that looks like a tomato,” even though a tomato is not in immediate sight. As such, if you build a model neighborhood, they can make the connection between the model and the real life thing it replicates. Therefore, practicing the road safety skills with the model will translate to the real life thing. Also at this milestone, they start to follow instructions better so it’s in high alignment with where they are at developmentally.

This was our model neighborhood. We had a wood block for our house. The blue tape was roads. I had some mini STOP signs. We have a pool at the end of the road, which we pretended to jump in.

Model of our neighborhood

In addition, this can build some new mental skills. Being able to see a map and then build a model is one skill. Being able to see the overview of an area is another.

See my book Misbehavior is Growth: An Observant Parent’s Guide to the Toddler Years for more ideas like this.

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