As any parent knows, there are seemingly innumerable dangers and risks your child will encounter every day from the moment he’s born. Natural disasters, accidents, and, unfortunately, some of those dangers will even come from other people.
But the world isn’t all gloom and doom or impending disaster. You know that, and you want your kid to know that too. But you also want to ensure they have the skills and tools to maintain awareness and safety, and exercise caution and good judgment in face of possible danger.
This balancing act is one of parenting’s greatest duties, and can be one of the most daunting!
Here are some tips to help teach kids about being safe, without instilling fear:
1) Examine and plan for various dangerous situations ahead of time
Make a list of possible dangers together with your child, talk about why they’re dangerous, and establish clear guidelines and rules for what they should and should not do in any given situation and why. Then they’ll have a clear understanding of the rules in advance, and won’t be confused or uncertain about how to react or proceed if they find themselves in that situation.
2) Teach them who to look to for help, and to always have a plan to get it
If your child finds himself in a compromising situation and you aren’t there, you don’t want him to look only for you and panic or shut down if you’re not there. Talk about how to select other adults he can look for to help – for example, a nearby worker in a uniform, a police officer, a mom with kids, etc. Teach your children to always have a plan to be able to get help in any situation, wherever they are.
3) Teach them that there are different rules for different circumstances
Teach your child that if they are playing on their own alone or with a friend, it is different than if they are playing with an adult who is taking care of them. If someone at the park starts making conversation with a child and their caregiver, it’s probably ok to respond. But if they’re playing on their own or with just a friend and a stranger tries to approach, talk to, or try to give them anything, they must immediately go find and check with the adult in charge first.
4) Act it out
Role playing is a great way to ensure comprehension and practice their ability to act “under pressure”. Simulating various potentially dangerous situations and scenarios is a good way to put them through the paces and make sure they react correctly, in a safe and controlled setting with you, before they’re in a situation when they have to do it and they’re on their own.
5) Last but certainly not least – teach them that most people are Good!
Teach your children that most people are good, so chances are that most strangers are as well and they don’t need to be scared of them – but that there are still rules we must ALWAYS follow in certain situations, or with people we don’t know well, no matter what, or who they say they are, or how nice they may be.