Preventing unintentional falling injuries in children: The role of implementation intentions in improving parental supervision
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A major concern for young families are accidents in and around home that injure their young child. Previous studies have shown that adequate parental supervision might be the most essential tool in preventing unintentional child injuries. Although most parents have the intention to stay with their child in order to prevent injuries, they routinely fail in doing so. It appears that there is a discrepancy between parents intentions and actual behaviour. The present study aims to bridge this gap between intentions and behaviour by testing effects of the self-regulation tool of implementation intentions on parents’ engagement in supervising their child. In a field experiment, 47 parents having a toddler were asked to put a poster up on a door, which offered information to prevent falling. Half of the participants formed an implementation intention, focused on staying with their toddler, in addition to the poster. Results showed a decrease in the frequency parents left their toddler alone after implementation intentions were formed. In addition, results indicated that planning one’s behaviour, by way of implementation intentions, might break down unwanted routines and replace them with wanted routines.