Ladder pointing up into the sky

Effective Warnings from Parents to Children

Today’s topic for discussion definitely goes in that “Why am I not surprised” category.

The March 24th edition of Scientific American’s 60-Second Mind has a message that I think everyone who has studied human factors can relate to.

The message: children are more likely to stop a risky behavior when parents explain to them the nature of the hazard and the possible consequences. They cite a new study from the Journal of Pediatric Psychology and use the following example: Instead of moms telling children “Stop that! It’s not safe!” They should say “That ladder is high. You could fall.”

The most convincing moms first focused on the reasons that made the situation dangerous, like that ladder is high and wobbly. Next they pointed out possible consequences: if you climb the ladder you could lose your balance and fall.

All they need to do is add a signal word and a pictorial and they’ve got the ANSI standard covered!

Image credit: “The ladder of life is full of splinters” by Mykl Roventine used under CC BY 2.0

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