Most new moms and dads have a fierce instinct that kicks in when their babe arrives. They will do anything to make sure their child is safe and happy. This is fairly easy when the child is a baby, as his or her world doesn’t stretch far from home and family. As children grow, so do their interactions with world. Parents suddenly have to trust their child will be safe going to and from school, during school and after-school programs, while spending time with friends, or anywhere else that they cannot be.
Teachers and parents often work to educate children on safety issues and concerns so that if a child finds him or herself in an unsafe situation, he or she knows exactly what to do. However, we don’t want to frighten our children into thinking the world is unsafe. Avoid scaring your children by empowering them with the knowledge they need to stay safe.
Stranger Danger Limits
Talk to your kids often about strangers, but keep it at a level they can easily understand. Instead of giving them all the gory details, simply say that strangers are people we don’t know, and we don’t talk to people we don’t know without an adult present. Have regular, informal conversations about what your child can do if a stranger tries to talk to them. Let them know that it’s okay to not be nice all the time. If they feel uncomfortable, they should immediately walk or run away. Tell them to scream, yell, kick or throw a fit if someone they don’t know tries to grab them. Let kids know that as long as a stranger isn’t trying to talk to them or touch them, they can just ignore them. Kids will most often feel empowered by this information, not scared.
Children will learn exactly what to do or say when you role-play a few different situations with them. Not only is this fun for kids, it will give them valuable practice if they ever find themselves in a sticky situation.
Adults are Not Always Right
Teach your kids to respect their family, friends’ parents, teachers and other adult figures in their lives. However, they should understand that just because someone is an adult doesn’t mean that they are always right. Kids should know that some adults make poor decisions, too. Teach your kids to follow their gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right, they should always come to you to talk about it.
Know your child by communicating with him or her every day. Make him or her feel comfortable enough to talk to you about anything and everything that’s going on in his or her life. Continually remind your son or daughter that you will always listen, no matter what they have to say.
Give your child specific phrases to say if they are ever uncomfortable with a situation. They can yell, “That’s not my dad!” if a stranger grabs them. If a mentor adult tries to touch them or lead them away from a group, teach them to say, “No, my parents told me to stay with the group.” Assertive kids will stand their ground based on the rules you have explicitly taught them.
While some parenting techniques instill fear without benefiting kid safety, checking on caregivers before you hire is a wise and appropriate step. Stop by NannyBackgroundCheck.com to confirm you are hiring a safe sitter.