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You’ve taught your child the basic safety rules. Don’t talk to strangers. Wear a helmet when riding your bike. Look both ways before you cross the road. But what about situations that aren’t so easy for a child to read? That’s when their judgment kicks in – so you had better be sure you are helping them to develop a sixth sense when it comes to safety.
Make a daily connection
When they are little, they talk your ears off. Not so much when they are approaching puberty. This is when you have to choose a time every day to connect with your son or daughter, in a manner that is non-confrontational. It’s most comfortable when you are sitting side-by-side, on the couch while watching TV, or in the Jeep Compass on your way to hockey practice. You just have to keep the lines of communication open. Discuss current events. Share opinions. If your child knows they can talk to you about anything, they are more likely to come to you when they have a problem to solve.
Equip your child for safety
Half the battle of keeping kids safe is teaching them to recognize the signs of danger. A bad person may actually be very kind, generous and nice-looking. Sometimes it is someone your child knows. Sometimes they use a child to get to your child. Teach your child to trust his or her instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t safe. Give your child a list of numbers to call for emergencies but also just to “check things out” if they aren’t sure and can’t get you on the phone. For example, when a neighbour pulls over and offers them a drive, or when they are at a friend’s house and they are uncomfortable about a situation. Teach your child how to diffuse a bully before things escalate, by confidently walking away and reporting it.
Have a backup plan
As your child grows up, you can have different plans in case of emergency. When they are little, your son or daughter should be using “The Buddy System” at all times. When they are older and maybe walking alone, they need to know where they can go for help if approached by a stranger or threatened by a bully. This is where the emergency phone list comes in handy – because if your child has to run to the nearest house for help, they need to have someone to call. Teach them to stay outside and ask the occupant to phone for them if necessary. As your child enters adolescence, give them a code to text you in an emergency. Then pick them up and ‘rescue’ them from the situation, no questions asked.
You just have to keep the lines of communication open. Discuss current events. Share opinions. According to researcher information from this article by Daniel Wong, helping your child or teen develop communication and social skills is one of the most important parenting skills to help develop a successful kid. A socially mature child is more likely to be able to ask for help or express their concern if they feel unsafe. If your child knows they can talk to you about anything, they are more likely to come to you when they have a problem to solve.
Our children are much smarter and more capable of handling emergencies than we may think. You can help to make your child street-smart and bully-proof by connecting with them on a daily basis, discussing safety rules, and giving them a way out of any difficult situation.
*This is a guest post