Our children are the most precious things in our lives. We raise them, we nurture them, and we stand in the way of anyone or anything which may harm them. But parenting in the 21st century is a very different experience to what it was a few decades ago. It used to be common for parents to let their kids go out to play after school with no real idea of where they were going and who they were seeing. All that mattered was that they had to be home in time for dinner! Of course, this still does happen today. But parents of today are generally much more fearful than we used to be, and more aware of the potential dangers our child might face. There’s no real reason as to why. After all, the world is no more dangerous today than it was twenty years ago. But perhaps it is down to the fact that we have much greater access to news and scary stories that make us want to keep our kids as close to us as possible. If anything happens in our neighborhood, we will probably hear about it first via social media. So, this form of news reporting can sometimes breed a fearful type of parent. But whether we’re talking 1982 or 2016, there are still certain things you need to do to protect your children.
Teaching Stranger Danger
Every parent knows the importance of teaching stranger danger. After all, we were all taught it by our own parents. But it’s a tricky one to address with your children. You want to equip them with a set of skills that enable them to protect themselves if they are ever without you, but you also want to avoid instilling a sense of fear in them. If a child is so terrified by the dangers you tell them about, it can make some of them afraid to even leave the house. This can severely impact their future social skills, so it is important that you try to avoid this scenario. But as long as you go about telling your child in a calm and reassuring manner, it should be fine. There are certain basics you will need to cover; for example, you child should know their address, area and house number by heart. They should also know how to call 911 and that they should avoid shortcuts that are either desolate or not well-lit. Even though you might have taught your child to be impeccably polite to their elders, tell them that it is okay for them to be rude to an adult if they are alone and feel uncomfortable. Finally, if the worst happens and they are picked up or manhandled by someone, tell them to scream. Encourage them to kick, fight, bite and yell as much as they can in order to attract attention. More often than not, this will cause the abductor to panic, and flee if someone else is in close proximity.
Safety in the Home
Your home is your castle, and you need it to be a safe space for both you and your family. If you have very young children you probably are never going to leave them in the family home without at least one adult present. But there are plenty of times where you are not going to be able to keep your eyes on them all the time. Or perhaps your children are a little older – say, in their early teens – and you leave them home alone for short periods of time. Your children need to know how to cope in emergency situations should you not be around, whether you’re just in the yard or if you’re at the store. The most imminent danger to children in the home is unsafe electricals. So, for the most part, make sure everything is switched off and encourage your child to ask you first before they use anything. They should also know the difference between an ‘on’ switch and an ‘off’ switch to help prevent any accidents. They should also be aware of the various home security systems you have, such as smoke and burglar alarms. Teach them the codes for these so they know how to operate them in case any of them accidentally go off, or if they feel unsafe. There are plenty of easy-to-use alarms available and you can read lots of Alarm Reviews online too. If your child is home alone or you are busy out the back, teach them to never open the door to a stranger.
We hear so many horror stories about children getting into trouble on the internet. This can be seeing content that isn’t suitable or being groomed by someone older. Kids these days grow up with technology and it isn’t right to completely deprive them of it. Children judge each other on their ability to integrate and access to the internet can often mean that children are more in touch with one another. But, at the same time, it needs to be used safely. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a tech-wizard to be able to keep your little ones safe online. Parental controls are easy to install on most web browsers and these can filter what your child can see online and what they can’t. It is a good idea to install these whilst your children are young, even if they have their own laptop or tablet. In terms of speaking to other people online, it is difficult to truly know who your child is communicating with. Ask them questions if you have any concerns about someone in particular, such as how they know who this person is. In some cases, many parents ‘friend’ their child on social media to see what exactly is going on, but a lot of children are reluctant to accept their parents as friends. If this happens with your child, suggest instead that they friend another trusted adult, such as an aunt or a family friend.