Don't Stop At 'Don't Do That Again!'
What do you think Mom and Dad say when the showoff ends up in the emergency room? You guessed it:
"Don’t do that again!"
A new University of Iowa study has found that’s exactly how most parents respond when their child lands in the emergency room if others—including siblings—are involved in the incident.
However, if a child’s injury is caused by some environmental hazard—a crack in the sidewalk or a hole in the road—parents are more likely to caution their children to be more careful and, if the child is older, help them understand why the situation was dangerous. The study also found that parents are far more likely to urge daughters than sons to be more careful in the future.
Researchers say it’s these types of conversations parents have with their children after a serious injury that help young people internalize safety values, a process similar to how a child develops a conscience.
"Even though parents often feel that these conversations are falling on deaf ears, over time they help children develop that little voice in the back of their head that keeps them from doing dangerous things," says Jodie Plumert, co-author of the study, Starch faculty fellow, and professor in the UI Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.
When children are very young, parents prevent injury by keeping a close eye on them.
"But ultimately, kids gain independence, and they need to be out in the world exploring things on their own,” says Elizabeth O’Neal, lead author of the study and a graduate student in the UI Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. “Parents need to find a good way to teach their children how to navigate novel situations that may be dangerous. We think conversations are an important way this occurs."