Teaching Your Child to be Safe

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What Your Children Can Do to Keep Themselves Safe

Young children and toddlers generally tend to be reserved and shy, especially in front of strangers. For some time, therefore, the parents may not have that much to worry about their children interacting or coming in contact with strangers. But as the children start getting older and more social, they starting become more open to the different people around them that they encounter. This in itself is actually a very positive and healthy development, which should in fact be encouraged, but it also exposes your child to a world full of unknown risks. When your child starts developing their social skills, it is the perfect time to start talking with them about being safe and knowing to do things if and when they feel vulnerable, especially with strangers.

As with most other parents, you might feel overwhelmed about discussing safety issues with your child. If you are not very careful and do not plan things out well, you might unknowingly scare your child. It is very important to lay down the rules with regards to strangers, but you also need to take care to do so in a very non-threatening and friendly manner. When you are sitting down with your child discussing the issues related to their safety, it is imperative that you use an age-appropriate language and also equip them with easy to understand and clear instructions.

It is the parents more than anyone else, who have the most important role in teaching their children about being safe and the various different situations they might find themselves. The following rules will help you lay down the groundwork of instructions that you will be equipping them with.S

Start with Explaining the Concept of Strangers:  We generally assume by default that our children know who are strangers. Rather than assuming, we should begin by asking our child whom do they consider to be strangers. You can expect to be completely surprised by the answers. Taking it from here you can explain your child that a stranger can be anyone whom they do not know, but not all strangers are “bad.” You need to assist your child in understanding that while there are there are safe or “good” strangers, there are also unsafe or “bad” strangers. They should know that anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any way is a bad stranger, while they can safely turn to a good stranger for help if they ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Police employees, teachers, security staff at the store and others all fit in the “good” stranger category. You need to reinforce it to your child that just because someone appears to be friendly or good it does not mean that they are safe.L

Lay Down the Stranger Family Safety Rules: You need to lay down the safety rules for your child and arm them with knowledge of the actions they need to take if they were to find themselves in various scenarios. While using a friendly and warm tone, you need to you’re your child that they should always ask their dad or mom before they talk to an adult whom your child might not know. It is important that your child knows their first and last name along with the first and last names of both of their parents as well as at least one phone number if your child were to ever be separated from you. You also need to set up a family password, which is simple and easy to remember but also unique. Your child should be told that she should never leave with any person who does not know this password.M

Make Your Child Aware of Stranger Behaviour that is Suspicious: As you will not always be along with your child when they come across strangers, it is very important to teach them to recognize suspicious behaviour among strangers as well as those she might know. One of the most important thing for the child to know is that it is always the kids who ask adults for help and not the other way round. A stranger who is an adult and asking your child for help should always raise a big red flag for them. You need to make your child aware of some of the potential things that people might say, which should immediately arouse their suspicious. These can be classic examples such as, “My cat is missing, can you please help me look for it?,” “Can I buy you this toy or candy?” or “I am an old friend of your parents and they have asked me to take you home.” It should be stressed to your child some of the very basic safety tips for strangers: Never talk to strangers when not with parents, never share any information with strangers, never accept anything for a person you do not know, and never to get in any vehicle or go to any place with strangers.R

Regular Communication: The ideal time to start discussing safety issues with your child is when they are beginning to come out of their shells and getting more social. However, that is not where the conversations between you and your child should end, rather that is just the beginning. You should have constant engagement with your child as they grow older and gain more independence. They will be encountering new situations, meeting new people, and it is therefore important that you are aware if your child needs any help or support. They will be having new experiences like sleepovers with their friends, going on outings, and as such you need to keep updating your rules for such situations. Before your child leaves for any place, you need to make them tell you the “3 Ws”: Where they are going, who are they going with, and what time will they be coming back. They should keep you updated on any change in plans. They need to understand that their parents have a right to know such things for their own safety.