Teaching Your Children to be Safe
When it comes to teaching your children about safety, there’s a lot of information to cover, but these vital conversations are about more than the subject matter. The way you communicate these lessons is just as important as the content of the message.
To ensure your conversations about safety are successful, you’ll need to focus on how you talk about safety, what rules are most important for your family, and how best to teach your child about awareness of their surroundings.
How to Talk About Safety
Conversations about safety can begin when your children are very young. The specificity and focus of these talks will shift as your child grows up, but there are a few guiding principles you should always follow:
Tailor the conversation to your child’s age: What works for a teenager will be too scary or advanced for a preschooler. Preschoolers learn most effectively through games and role-playing and won’t respond well to lectures. School-age children understand concrete rules and parameters best. Tweens and teens have more autonomy and benefit from realistic conversations about potential risks. Be conscious of what works best for your child’s age group to ensure the conversation has a real impact.
Plan in advance: This is an important conversation and you don’t want to wing it. If you’re role-playing, select the scenarios beforehand. If you’re setting rules, know what those rules are and outline how you’ll explain them ahead of time. Your examples should be thought-out, relevant, and easy to understand.
Choose your words carefully: Your objective is to teach your child life-saving skills, not to scare them. For example, with preschoolers, you can speak openly about strangers but refrain from overly descriptive or graphic examples. Think of these conversations as tools of empowerment.
Rules to Focus On
When discussing safety with your children, rules are critical. They serve as clear-cut roadmaps for your children to follow in the event of an emergency. The key is to keep them simple so they’re easy to remember.
Stranger danger: Clearly define the word stranger for your child, then be clear that he or she should never do any of the following with or for a stranger: go anywhere, get into a car, answer questions, or accept gifts or candy. Rather than focus on all the things that could go wrong, stress that your child is not allowed to engage with strangers.
Create a safety net: When your children are away from home or are home alone, if they’re older, ensure they have a safety net of trusted adults and designated public places. Talk about safe routes to travel to school and identify neighbors they can reach out to if they need help.
Talk about separation: It’s inevitable that at some point your child will be separated from you in a public place. Outline what should happen – he or she should find a security guard or employee and stay put until you’ve been located. The latest child safety devices could also help the situation.
The NO-GO-TELL system: Teach your child to use their instincts in scary situations. They should say NO if someone makes them feel scared or uncomfortable, or if someone tries to touch them. They should GO away from the situation as quickly as they can. Then, they should TELL a trusted adult from their safety net.
The Three W’s: When your child goes out without you, you should know who they’re with, where they’ll be, and when they’ll be back. Teen monitoring devices can assist with this info as well.
Emergency plans: Keep these plans simple. Practice emergency drills, talk about how to make emergency calls, and continuously role play how to handle different emergency scenarios.
Set home, phone, and internet safety rules: Children should keep doors locked and never open them for strangers when they’re home alone. They should also avoid answering questions from or conversing with strangers over the phone or online.
Family check-in procedures: If your child takes the bus home from school, have them call or text you, or check in with a trusted neighbor, as soon as they arrive.
Talk about abduction: Though you’re having these discussions to avoid something as frightening as an abduction, you should still inform your child about what to do if one takes place. They should know how to get help or get the attention of others who can help them. And if they’re old enough, you can discuss ways to use different self-defense tools.
The above rules play a critical role in teaching your children awareness of their surroundings. However, safety education also requires a bit more attention to detail on your part.
Again, be open and honest with your children without scaring them. Don’t be afraid to say the word stranger; say it early, say it often, and say it clearly. Teach them about the tricks strangers use to lure children and arm them with the know-how to avoid the traps. Also, talk to them about uncomfortable feelings – describe them gently and ask if he or she has experienced one.
When you’re going over rules and role-playing scenarios, be as specific as possible. Children won’t do well with high-level examples. You want them to know exactly what to do if one of these situations occurs. No matter how they react to the information, be sure to check for understanding by reiterating important points and asking them questions about what you’ve shared with them.
Teach your child that he or she is the boss of their own body. If anyone tries to violate that, they should use everything that you’ve taught them.
And most important, keep the conversation going. Safety threats evolve over time, and the rules change with age. The best way to teach awareness is to talk about safety as often as you can.
Additionally, BrickHouse Security can assist you with industry-leading child safety advances, teen monitoring devices, and self-defense tools. For extra peace of mind, contact us today to discuss your needs and take action to protect your child.