Parenting In Focus: Keeping your children safe

Parenting in focus: Keeping your children safe

As parents, we need to understand ways to keep our children safe, and one of the most important ways to do this is to teach children important information about themselves.

It starts with your child’s name and phone number. If they can remember their address, learn it too. Make a game out of this. Ask your child to tell you these facts with some regularity to make sure she understands and knows this critical information.

A child must know his parents or guardian’s full name. Most parents think their child knows this information; this is not always the case.

Make sure your child knows a family member or neighbor’s phone number. In an emergency and she can’t reach you, she should have another person’s phone number to call.

Talk to your child about emergencies. Most children do not know what an emergency is and what to do. Be sure to talk about 9-1-1 as part of this discussion. Children need to understand when someone should and should not call 9-1-1.

Your child should also understand who a stranger is and what to do if a stranger tries to get them in their car. Try to be calm when discussing this. You really don’t want to make your child afraid of other people. The way you present it helps your child to be careful.

Check your local library for books on these kinds of topics. Sometimes it is easier to read about the topic and then discuss it together. Other parents have had success taking their child to the police station and getting public safety information there.

Talk to your child about what to do in case he gets lost in a public place such as a mall, a fair or carnival, or parks. It is better for your child to ask for help than to keep wandering around hoping to find you.

These are ways to keep your young child safe. It is your responsibility to do and it goes on forever. There is no end to keeping your child safe.

The rules for keeping your teen safe are different. But before your young child becomes a teenager, make sure you learn about smoking, drinking, sex, guns, driving and drugs. All of these subjects are something you need to know about in order to raise an older child.

These are topics that you will probably need to discuss with your child at some point. Lay the groundwork for conversations about any topic with your child. Be open, listen and learn.

You can buy many products to keep your child of any age safer. However, nothing you can buy is as helpful as being a good parent who pays attention to their child.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which published newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents.

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