There’s a big bad world out there. You were always there for your child when she was a baby or toddler, or you left her in the care of someone you could trust 100%. But as your child continues to get older, you will find yourself having to hold his hand less and less. With time, you will of course find yourself getting a bit worried about your child’s safety and when she starts using the public transit herself or navigates the sidewalks, things are definitely going to get nerve-wracking for you.
The fact of the matter is that every single parent out there dreads the day they may receive a phone call with the news that something bad has happened to their child. But you need to bear in mind that tragedies don’t happen all the time – they are pretty rare and even things like abductions, accidents and other cases of abuse can easily be prevented as long as parents and children take the necessary steps.
So here goes – given below is a list of safety rules that should be known and followed by every family out there:
7 Your #priority should be your child
If you truly want to keep your child safe against any abuse that may be initiated by predators, bullies and wish to prevent her from becoming sexually active before she’s active, then it is extremely important for you to maintain close relationships with her. Some of the best things that you can do in this regard is to eat dinner together as a family as many nights of the week as possible and make sure that you spend a bit of ‘one on one’ time with her. This is basically meant to help your child feel close to you, which would in turn lead her to expressing her problems and emotions to you.
Apart from that, you should also plan out ‘special time’ with each child of your as often as possible (at least once a week). During this time, you should let things remain ‘one on one’ between you and your child and let her decide how she wishes to use this time – make sure that you don’t bring up homework or reading during it. In case your child appears to be distant or a little defiant, then your first priority should be to start re-connecting with her.
As a rule, you should talk with every single child of yours on a personal and intimate level at least once a week. This is going to go a long way in helping you learn about their ‘inner’ worlds – the thoughts they have, the feelings they experience and the ideas coming up in their minds. While having such discussions with them, make sure that you actually ‘listen’ so you can learn about all that is going on inside of them.
6 Your children MUST know how to swim
We all know how important it is for everyone to know how to swim – for obvious reasons, every single member of your family should acquire this skill. While you’re at it, you should also teach your children that they MUST NOT dive into water that they haven’t personally established to be safe.
The best part about teaching your children to swim and encouraging them to do so on a regular basis is that it offers both health and safety based benefits. During the hot summer days, swimming can help your family stay cool, while helping all of you enjoy a healthy physical and social activity. To promote an active lifestyle all through the year, don’t forget to take your kids to indoor pools in the colder months. Apart from that, drowning happens to be the second leading cause of death for people aged between 5 and 24, which goes on to show how important it is for you to teach your children how to swim.
As you teach your child to swim, she is going to become a stronger swimmer with time and it will also assist her in gaining valuable experience in the water. The experience she gains this way will reduce the risk of an emergency in case she accidentally falls in an unguarded pool. The fact is that all through life, there will be plenty of situations wherein your child will come into contact with water, and unless she knows how to swim, she will always be in danger of drowning. So in order to prepare your little angel to face such situations, it is highly recommended for your entire family, including your kids, to learn how to swim.
5 Your children should learn to cross the street
Things like crossing the street are so ‘automatic’ for us that as parents, we at times forget that our children need to learn about the safety issues associated with it. When your child becomes old enough to hold your hand, you should stop every time you have to cross the road and say, “Let’s cross the road safely. First, we need to check the signal – if it shows the person walking, we can cross. Now let’s look left, then right, and then left again, and we can cross if there are no cars”. With time, encourage your child to take charge of this ritual – by the time she starts crossing the road herself, all of these habits will be engrained in her mind.
The thing you need to bear in mind is that children don’t have the same ability to judge things like speed, distances and noise direction as adults. For this reason, it is necessary for you to teach your little one about basic street safety the moment she starts walking around the local streets by herself.
The basic rules about being a pedestrian
To get your kids to learn about the basic rules of being a pedestrian, it is highly recommended for you to practice the same rules during your walks with them. You need to do this to the point that it starts feeling like second nature to your precious little angels. By the time that they start walking down the streets by themselves, they won’t be surprised by any pedestrian road rules and will know exactly how a road needs to be crossed.
4 Save your kids from being bullied
In order to keep your children from being bullied, it is vital for you to make sure they have high self-esteem and hold strong relationships with their family and peers. You need to bear in mind the fact that bullies tend to prey on kids that they believe are vulnerable. This includes needy children who are extremely desperate for peer acceptance and are willing to hand out with a group of peers even if they get mistreated.
To make sure that your child does not give in to bullies, it is best for you to play role-playing games with her in which you can teach her to stand up to a bully by saying that she will not let anyone abuse her and walk away. While you are at it, don’t forget to tell your child that it is natural for her to be a bit scared of a bully and that it comes naturally. But with that, she should also not feel any shame in walking away from a bully, telling an adult about what she is facing and asking for help.
Encourage her to share her concerns with you
As a family rule, it is vital for you to stay calm when your little one confesses about being bullied. As she explains her concerns with you, it is recommended for you to listen to her in a loving manner and show your support for her feelings. Once she is done talking, you need to teach her how to respond and make her understand why it is not recommended for her to fight back or retaliate against a bully.
3 Tell her that her body belongs ONLY to HER
Statistics show that at least one out of every three girls suffers some level of unwanted sexual touching by the time she becomes sixteen. But it isn’t just girls that get sexually molested – the statistics for boys are just as bad with one out of six boys claiming sexual molestation by the same age. To get your child to learn about unwanted sexual touching, it is highly recommended for you to get her to read books like ‘My Body Belongs to Me’ by Jill Starishevsky.
As time passes by, you should teach your child that no one in the world, irrespective of whether it is a child or an adult, has the right to touch her in a manner that makes her uncomfortable. Just so you know, in most cases of child molestation, it is usually someone the child knows and trusts that initiates the molestation. Although you routinely tell your child to stay away from strangers, it is also vital for you to make her understand what inappropriate behavior is from someone that they are familiar with and trust. While you are at it, you should also focus on explaining to your child how she should never keep any secrets from you.
Good touch, bad touch
To help your child stand up for herself in a sexual abuse situation, it is vital for her to make her own decisions about who gets to touch her body and who doesn’t from an early age. For this, you should raise her with the basic house rule that, “We should ask people before touching their body. If they say NO, it means NO. We shouldn’t steal hugs and kisses”. Also, if your child doesn’t want to be touched by a friend or relative, you shouldn’t force it on her.
2 Pay attention to car safety rules
If you have to transport a little one in the back of your car, it is vital for you to train yourself to check the car before getting out to be sure that your child is out of it – this is meant to help you avert from spacing out and forgetting a sleeping child. Yes, it sounds horrible, but as a parent, you may be sleep-deprived for a while and there are plenty of stories around about toddlers and babies dying in cars because their parents went on autopilot. Also, if your child is old enough, she should be taught to buckle up.
To ensure safety, it is also recommended for you to teach your little angel to get out of the car immediately in case the car is being driven by someone drunk. To help her learn, play role-playing games so she may know what to say get out of the car and get to a safe place. Teach her things like, “I’m about to throw up”, “I’m getting car sick – stop the car NOW!”
Child safety seats are a must
The best protection that you can give your child when traveling by car is that of using a child safety seat or car seat. With the help of a child safety seat, it will be easily possible for you to reduce the risk of a potentially fatal injury for both babies and toddlers. Remember, the best car seats aren’t necessarily the most expensive ones. It is best for you to get one that is the perfect pick for your child’s size, weight, age and your vehicle.
1 You should know your child’s friends and their families
This is yet another basic family rule that you should definitely follow. Whenever your child goes to a friend’s house on a play date, it is necessary for you to know the kid and his family. While you are at it, it is also vital for you to watch your child for cues about what happens on these play dates.
As a parent, it is necessary for you to get to know the parents at households where your child likes spending his time. For this, it is important for you to talk to him in great details about what goes on at his friends’ houses. Are the kids there allowed to use the computer without adult supervision? Do their parents allow them to go down to the store by themselves? Would it be possible for her to recognize if her friend’s dad got drunk? Does she know what to do if her friend’s father/mother touched her inappropriately? Also, you need to engrain in your child’s mind that she needs to leave any room and house immediately in case a gun comes up – no matter the excuse, just make one and leave from there right away.
They’re strangers to you
That’s right. The people that your child is going to spend time with are total strangers to you. For this reason, you need to make sure that their morals and values align with yours and that they do not expose your child to anything that may harm her. To make things simpler, it is best for you to communicate your morals and standards to the parents who will be watching over your child and convey your stand on things like alcohol, use of media and where it’s alright for the kids to play to them.