Giving your child the gift of independence means teaching her certain safety principles. Your child needs to know the basics when it comes to how to stay safe and what rules to follow. Here are some guidelines every parent needs to teach.
Sticking to Groups
Kids need to understand how being in a group can keep them safe. Teach your child not to wander off alone when on field trips or other events, and try to arrange for a buddy system if your child walks to and from school. You don’t have to scare your kids about the concept of being alone. Just emphasize how much easier it is to stay visible when in a group. It’s also easier to ask for help and keep from getting lost. When swimming, staying in a group or with a buddy keeps kids safer because it can decrease the risk of drowning. Kids should know to be mindful of where they are in relation to their group and to stay close. This is especially important in natural environments, like camping or hiking. Kids can benefit from the additional help they receive while they are developing outdoor experience.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Teaching kids to be aware of their surroundings encompasses a range of ideas. This is more than just the basic rules of stranger danger. A common concern is that an unknown person will abduct a child, but there are plenty of situations that are more likely to occur and bring danger if kids aren’t prepared. Children should know that being aware of her surroundings means assessing where they are, who they are with and what is happening. It can be as simple as noticing that they are playing too close to a street or as complex as noticing the dynamics of a friendly competition starting to change. Kids also need to know what physical surroundings are off-limits to them. If they are allowed to be a certain place during the day but not at night, they need to be mindful of the sun going down and the surroundings growing darker. Children can be unaware because they spend a lot of time in their imaginations. This is great for creativity, but it’s not good when kids can’t assess the situation around them and decide what to do to stay safe.
Teach Beyond Stranger Danger
The idea of a child being harmed by a stranger is horrible, but it isn’t the most likely scenario. Children need to know that they don’t have to go with anybody or do anything they don’t want with their bodies, even if the person asking them to do it is someone they know. It can be as simple as telling a child that they don’t have to hug someone they don’t want to. Teach body autonomy early so your children will be confident that they control their own space. Let kids know who is allowed to pick them up in an emergency situation, and ensure they know not to leave with anyone else. Remind them that someone they know shouldn’t ask them to keep secrets or spend alone time with them away from their parents.
Teaching kids to stay safe can feel overwhelming, but covering a few important principles is a great start to protecting your children. By teaching your kids how to be safe, you can make sure that your kids are protected even when you are not around and have greater peace of mind.
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