Teaching Your Child About Strangers Without Causing Fear
The safety of my kids is something I think about constantly, as I’m sure it’s certainly a topic on every parent’s mind. When I was growing up, you could play outside in the front yard without parental supervision and leave the doors unlocked every night without worrying about intruders. Unfortunately, times have changed significantly.
My three kids are still very young, so I know I have many years of worry ahead of me before my babies enter the real world to fend for themselves.
Even the thought of something bad happening to my kids used to drive me to fits of anxiety, and watching the numerous safety awareness clips in our baby DVDs only made me more aware that these things could happen. Soon enough, my anxiety began to rub off on my children.
Instead of dwelling on the anxiety, I took action and ordered The Safe Side video so my kids could learn what to do if a stranger ever approached them. We all liked the video because it was fun and upbeat, with lots of sound effects, bright colors and entertaining scenarios. It even had a catchy song about safety that we learned.
We spent a a lot of time watching The Safe Side video together and talking about different situations, approaching it comfortably and with confidence. The anxiety my kids experienced slowly eased.
According to KidPower, talking about “stranger danger” or focusing on scary stories can increase fear and anxiety for everyone. Instead, tell kids in a matter-of-fact way that you believe most people are good — and this means that most strangers are good, but a few have problems, and should be avoided.
KidPower also advises that young people learn best by actively participating. Practicing children’s personal safety skills increases their confidence and competence. It is important to do this in a way that is fun, but not scary.
Here are some educational safety tips that parents can use to help them be prepared, with out being paranoid.
1. Have a Child Safety/ID kit: A child safety or identification kit can include a fingerprint kit, hair DNA sample collection, dental records, an organized record of stats such as height, weight, color of eyes and hair and a recent color photo; you can also personalize and order an identification bracelet.
2. Watch safety videos as a family: Safety videos can be very helpful in the first steps to educating your kids on how to identify a stranger and what to do if they get lost, or encounter an uncomfortable situation.
3. Talk to your child: Educate, inform and discuss. It’s never too early to start talking to your children about safety, strangers and how to be proactive instead of reactive. Knowledge creates confidence and could save a life. It’s important to create a dialogue or a question and answer time with your kids. Encourage them to ask questions, and listen carefully to their concerns.
4. Role play: Acting out different scenarios that could can be very helpful. For instance, what to do if they get lost in a store, incur bullying or are approached by a stranger.
5. Join Neighborhood Watch: Join your local neighborhood watch group, attend the meetings, and subscribe to their email list. This is a valuable way to learn about what is happening in your neighborhood and a great way to get to know your neighbors, if you don’t already.
6. Teach kids their name, address, phone number –Your child can escape, wander off or get lost in the blink of an eye; teaching them their full name, address and phone number can make all the difference should an emergency occur. If your child learns visually, write the telephone number down (in big numbers) and paste by the home phone. Practice repeating the information.
7. Calling 911 – Teaching your child to call 911 in an emergency is an important part of house safety rules. You’ve heard it on the news: “3-yr old saves mom with 911 song.” The basic tenets are the same for teaching kids and adults to call 911: Know when to call, make sure the operator knows where you are located and don’t hang up. Teaching kids to call 911 should start as soon as they can use with the phone.
In one of my favorite videos about safety, “Kids & Strangers,” comprehensive, real-life scenarios are reenacted. John Hall, creator of ‘Kid Escape’s Grip, Dip and Spin’ method, (featured on CNN, The Montel Williams Show and, The Oprah Winfrey Show), physically demonstrates real , practical scenarios for what a child should do if he or she is approached by a stranger or grabbed by a predator.
Children’s safety always comes first, so be vigilant, proactive and start the process of being prepared early, so you can lessen the fear and create confidence. And remember, being uninformed is the scariest of all scenarios.
Related Topics: Safety
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