While your kids may be bouncing off the walls in excitement for a trip to the beach, parents are faced with another challenge: successful planning.
Planning isn’t just about making sure that you’ve got all of your beach essentials - it’s also about making sure that your kids are safe.
Baby’s first trip to the beach isn’t all fun and games - it’s also crucial that you teach the little ones how to be safe at the beach, and ingrain good habits.
So before you hit the water this coming summer, what do you need to talk to your kids about?
How to keep kids safe at the beach
Tell your kids to swim between the flags
While the water may look calm from a distance, you don’t know what hazards that shimmering, calm blue could be hiding:
- What if there’s an undercurrent?
- Or a riptide (and not the fun, catchy type?)
- Or sharp rocks lurking below the surface?
If you’re at a beach with lifeguards, that means there’s an extra pair of eyes watching over your kids while they’re in the water. It also means that the beach (and its current conditions) has been checked for hidden dangers that pose a risk to all visitors’ safety.
Slip, Slop, Slap (And Seek, Slide)
Most of us have had this message drilled into us from a very young age - who could forget the TV ads, the classes at school or the jingle?
It’s a message that most of us learn young and have reinforced over years.
But it might be something new to your young ones.
Before you set off for the sea, make sure each of your kids is shown what they need to do to protect themselves from harmful UV rays, including:
- Slip on sun-protective clothing like a rashie or other long-sleeve shirt
- Slop on sunscreen (mum and dad will help make sure your body is fully covered!
- Slap on a hat to protect sensitive skin around the ears, neck, and on the face
- Seek shade whenever possible
- Slide on a pair of sunglasses
What do kids do when they go to the beach? They spend the entire time playing, whether that’s splashing around in the shallows or running around on the sand working up a sweat.
(Fact: running on sand uses up 1.6 times as much energy as hard ground).
Combine that with typical high summer temperatures, and dehydration is a natural consequence.
Don’t let your child’s big day be marred by headaches, tiredness and other symptoms of dehydration:
- Avoid activity during the hottest part of the day
- Skip soft drinks (besides the yucky sugar, they also contain caffeine, which pulls water out of your system)
- Choose healthy snacks and skip the sugary treats
- And of course, don’t forget to make sure they pause frequently to sip on some water
Make sure you have eyes on them at all time
As any parent can tell you, kids have a habit of slinking off when you aren’t paying attention - even for a split-second.
And the beach is probably one of the worst places this can happen.
It’s crucial that you keep an eye on your kids while they’re at the beach. But there are other things you can do, too.
One idea is to use a buddy system, especially if you have more than one child. That way, in addition to your eagle eye, they can look out for each other, too.
Another good idea is to roster “shifts” with your partner or fellow parent, allowing you to get in a little bit of “you time”, enjoy sitting your beach chair under the shade of your beach umbrella and french umbrella while they take the first watch.
How can you teach your kids to be safe at the beach?
Parents have many tools in the toolbox to teach their kids to be safe at the beach - but which one’s the best way of getting the message across?
Tell it to them upfront
Kids listen - that’s why sitting down with them and explaining that while the beach is a really awesome place, that there are safety measures we all need to adhere to, to make sure we are all safe and have a great time.
Lead by example
While you could sit them down for a lecture or talk to them while you’re in the car, if you ask us, the best way to teach kids to be safe is to lead by example.
That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t explain things to your kids first - but as actions speak louder than words, show them, too.
Kids like copying adults. So when they see you slathering on sunscreen, drinking water frequently and doing other things to protect yourself, they're more inclined to follow.
Not to mention, kids are observant, and will question everything! “How come I have to put on sunscreen when you don’t?”
Leading by example doesn’t just ensure the message gets through, but it also helps you avoid an awkward conversation if you’re caught out.
Reinforce your message throughout the day
You know how they say you need to do something seven times before it becomes a habit?
Well, beach safety is no exception
Throughout the day, be sure to remind your kids of what they need to do to stay safe, as well as to call them out if you see them doing risky behaviour or breaking the rules.
Only this way will it become a habit that sticks with them for future beach trips!
The beach is our happy place - and should be a safe place for all, too
We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches down here in Australia. Aussie kids grow up with a lifetime of beach trips - something that many other kids don’t have.
Got other ways of keeping your kids safe around the water? Do you have stories to share? We’d love to hear them! Head over to our Instagram to keep up to date with all the Boatshed7 happenings.
Searching for the coolest beach gear for each member of the family? Shop online now!