We know you are protecting your child, keeping them close and loving them. But these 9 basics could save your child’s life (or your sanity)…

9 pre-schooler survival skills


1. Grandma fell down and can’t get up

Teach your child simple rules for an emergency call; even older babies will have seen parents use their phones and possibly played with them. Show your child how to use your smartphone to call for help, and how to do the same on a landline. Remember that the Police are at 999, and if the child is older, teach them that ambulance and fire services are at 995. Also make sure that your child knows your smartphone number and can call you easily.

2. You don’t know where you are and mummy is gone!

Children should know their home address or phone numbers for mummy and daddy, just in case they get lost. They should also know how to ask for help from a safe source — teach the child to recognise a police uniform as being “safe”. When you are going to any big mall, amusement park or theatre, identify someplace with staff that they should go to and say, “Can you help me find my mummy/daddy?”

3. If a stranger offers you a sweet, say “no” and run

Strangers = danger. Teach your children to be firm and reject anything — even candy, even a doggy or a fuzzy cat, even their favourite burger — from a stranger firmly but politely. “No thank you.”

4. Why can’t I just grab my food in my hands to eat?

Some youngsters love to use their hands to eat, which might cause a mess. Also, kids will have to eat on their own as no one will be there to feed them all the time, especially in school or outside. Poke food with a pointy fork and scoop food with a spoon. Cut with a knife is for older kids.

5. Why can’t I take a toy home? Why does it go in a box?

This deals with two separate issues. While it is fun to play with common toys handed out at playdates or at a restaurant, make sure your child knows that it is not yours to bring home, it is the playdate host’s or restaurant’s. And when it comes to putting things into a toybox after playing, it’s considerate — after all, when your child wants to play with a set of Lego, it helps to have the Lego all in one bucket, doesn’t it?

6. If you give Aunty Minimart $5, what do you get back?

Pre-schoolers should start to be able to recognise different dollar notes and coins — teach them the basic sizes of coins and colours of notes — as well as knowing how to add and subtract so that they can buy food easily when moving up to primary school. Plus, learning to use money is a good skill for life.

7. I can tie my shoes myself! (Um. No.)

Admittedly this is something that may seem out of date with velcro shoes and slip-ons everywhere, but it’s quite an important mark of being “grown up”, being able to tie your own shoelaces. And make them tight. Plus learning to tie and untie knots will be used all their lives (especially at markets).

8. I can pee on my own — but my pants won’t work!

Toddlers should be toilet-trained — certainly once they start preschool they need to know how to pee and poop on their own. Maybe with help from an adult managing a strange door. But do teach your little how to pull pants’ and skirts’ waistbands up to their waists, and that all buttons need to fit all the buttonholes so their shirts look “nice”. Zips are fairly easy (once you show your boy how to tuck himself out of the way). Buckling straps and belts may be a bit more advanced but the sooner your child learns, the more independent they will be!

9. I’m sorry.

It’s the hardest thing to say. We know you know it, too. Children will fight occasionally over toys or when playing. Teach your child that it is a must to say “sorry” for any incident. Empathy is something that your child and you must work on together but it’s a good way to remind your child of your values.