In a world where bullying, kidnapping and pedophilia have become well known terms, it is vital to teach our children how to interact with their surroundings and environment in a safe way.
No one can monitor their child 24/7. Even if that’s what we would like to do, it just isn’t realistic. So how can I protect my child? How can I keep her/him safe? Here are a few tips that I have parented by.
Be a Positive Role Model
Something every parent should be aware of is that children watch us very closely. By mimicking our movements, using our phrasing and adopting our habits, they learn how to interact with others. The better the parent’s habits are, the better the child’s will be, for the most part. Make sure you stop at a crosswalk, look to both sides, make eye contact with the drivers approaching and obey the traffic signals. This way your child sees how it should be done. If you run across without looking, it will be hard to convince your child to look before he/she crosses. When you leave the house, make sure your doors and windows are locked and your home alarm system is activated. It’s not ok to strap your child into a car seat and then drive off without buckling up yourself. Leading by example is the best way to go.
Have an Open Conversation with Your Child
It’s never too early to start talking about possible dangers and their avoidance. However, it’s important not to turn it into a horror show. Your child shouldn’t be afraid to go outside or be social, just to be aware and know that he/she has a safety-net they can rely on. Strangers are a topic that all parents address and that’s a good thing. What we tend to leave out, because it’s just too painful to imagine, are those people closest to us: family, friends, teachers andpeers. Let your child know you are ALWAYS there for them no matter what. If they experience any physical or psychological abuse by a family member or friend, you want to make sure they know they can come to you and, most importantly, that you will do whatever it takes to protect them from this person.
When it comes to bullying in school, your child should be aware of where to turn when things get rough. A teacher, the principal, the janitor, any grown up that’s available will do for starters. Being there when they come home to ask how their day was is good, listening to their answer even better. If there’s a problem, you want to know about it before it gets out of hand. If your child is experiencing problems with a classmate/neighbor, don’t go ballistic right away. Call the bully’s mother and, in a friendly way, ask if you can come over and get together with her and her child. All parties should be present to talk it out. If this fails, take it a step further; involve the school or the venue where the bullying is taking place. Don’t give up until it’s resolved. Your child will thank you for it and at the same time learn that he/she doesn’t have to put up with it. If your child is the Bully, you may want to ask yourself why and what you can do to change it. Bullying is never a good start in life and usually doesn’t end well.
Avoid Violent Media in Your House
In our society, playing computer games or PlayStation is a part of every-day life. What we play is a choice we make. There are all kinds of games out there to keep your child entertained without being violent. War games, warlocks and dungeons are all things I wouldn’t want my children to dream about at night and that’s why I prefer not to buy them. Sure, they will be in contact with these things one way or another but that doesn’t mean I have to provide it for them. Just staring at a screen all day isn’t that great of a past time anyway. Limit their screen time (TV and computer), involve them in outdoor activities such as sports, gardening (give them their own little patch to plant in) and walking. The less violence you subject them too- that includes screen violence-the less they will feel the need for it. By the way reading is a great alternative to the computer.
Have Your Child Assist With Safety Checks at Home
Safety is a much more interesting topic if it’s learned by doing. Have your child help when you check your fire and smoke detectors. Let them change the batteries and make sure they function properly. Show them how the home alarm system works and let them activate and deactivate it when entering or exiting the house together. Once you have checked your garage for potential dangers, such as flammable substances, tell your children what you found and why you are removing or relocating these things. Show them how important it is to remove clutter. This way they know what to look out for and naturally adapt a healthy attitude towards staying safe in a natural way.
Surely everyone has their own opinion on parenting and safety. This is my personal view on the topic but I’m always open to suggestions. If we don’t share, we won’t know what others are doing, and what we can do better by learning from them. That’s why I am sharing this with you and, hopefully, others will share too. Let’s make this world a safer place for our children, one article at a time, one family at a time.
This is a guest post by Naomi Broderick. She is a mother of three and a professional writer. When she’s not juggling her three children in the front yard she writes for Protect Your Home, a leader in home alarms.