Our children have grown up in a culture of “stranger danger” and “just say no.” Often it is a land of fear and suspicion. In some ways this is good, but are we really doing what is best for our children? Or are we creating a culture of fear that will impact them in other areas of their lives down the road?
Teaching your child how to be safe can be accomplished without scaring them or making them feel powerless. When you empower your child with knowledge you give them a special gift – a gift of trust. They trust you to teach them and they learn to trust themselves to make educated, safe decisions that will protect them. In this time of latch key kids, children are being left home alone more and more. Truth be told, many spend those hours alone very fearful. Young people talk of pulling a chair by the door and being too afraid to move until a parent arrived home, or hiding in their room, frightful of every noise. That is no way to live, even for a few hours a day. It is time to free our children from fear.
1. Make a plan
This is probably the easiest thing to do and yet the most often overlooked. What is the plan if there is a fire? A break-in? If you have a home security system and it has a paging system that can be invaluable for your child. Make a plan for escape and for getting help then do drills regularly. Don’t just talk it through, actually go through the drills so that in the event something happens your child has already walked through the process and it will be more natural to her.
2. Not all strangers are bad
This goes against what most parents have taught their children from birth, but the truth is, most strangers are good. Consider this, your child is running down the street, fleeing a bad guy and everyone he encounters is a stranger. Who is he going to turn to for help? Give your child the tools to get help when they need it; don’t instill fear of everyone. That can be counterproductive.
3. Teach them to arm the alarm as soon as they get home
If your child will be spending any time alone at home then she needs to know how to work the alarm system. A large percentage of break ins occur when someone is home and if a burglar sees your child letting themselves into an empty house they could see that as a prime target. Give your child that extra layer of protection by teaching them about the alarm system.
4. Create safety rules
Sit down with your child and create safety rules for talking on the phone, answering the door, and using the internet. Create a checks and balances system so that you can know what your children are doing even when you are not there and to make them accountable.
5. Have a check in system
Have your child check in with you as soon as they get home. You can even have them arm the alarm while you are on the phone with them. They should also check in with you or an adult when they go somewhere, especially with someone – anyone, even someone they know.
Keeping our kids safe is our first priority. When you empower them to make good safety choices you create a kid who is more relaxed and confident. What are your kid safety tips? Share in the comments below!