Time seems to travel at light-speed when you have kids. They need the help of their parents less and less, and that newfound independence can be beneficial for mental and physical growth. Parents want their children to be able to play in the yard without supervision or walk down the street alone when they reach a certain maturity level. However, they want to feel confident that their kids are safe when doing so.
One of the most important jobs a parent has is to protect his or her children. Teaching important safety guidelines is one way to help children remain safe when a parent or guardian is not present. The following are six important safety rules to teach your kids.
- Getting Lost
Your children’s independence can lead them to getting lost — whether at the grocery store, at the park or somewhere else. You can prevent your kids from panicking, and possibly falling into deeper trouble, by teaching them what to do when they become lost.
Teach children to stay in the exact place they are when they notice they’ve become lost. Then, tell them to begin loudly calling your real name or the name of the guardian they were with (not just mommy or daddy). This safety measure can be practiced at home numerous times before it is ever needed.
- Contact Information
Knowing contact information is another important safety measure for whenever a child feels lost or unsafe. Any child who is allowed to walk down the street alone should know his or her first and last name, parent or guardian’s first and last name, and at least one important phone number.
- How to Handle Strangers
“Stranger danger” is a common phrase used among parents and in schools. However, this phrase implies that children should never, ever talk to strangers. This can put children in difficult circumstances. It is better to teach children the warning signs and unsafe situations that may be present when dealing with certain strangers.
Teach your children about the behaviors of dangerous people, such as an adult offering toys or candy or asking for assistance. Your child should know not to leave a public area with a stranger or enter a stranger’s vehicle.
It’s not uncommon for children to need help from strangers. For instance, your child may need help from an adult if an accident happens when playing with friends. Teach your children to know where to find helpful people, such as teachers, police officers, or even other moms or dads with kids.
- Body Safety
Your kids’ independence means they can make many decisions for themselves. It is your youngsters’ choice if they want to hold hands with someone, accept a kiss or give a hug. Teach your kids that they always have the power to say no, and they don’t need to provide a reason when doing so.
- Street Safety
Some of your best childhood memories may involve playing outside with friends in your neighborhood. Someone probably yelled “car” when a vehicle was coming, and you all rushed away from the road.
Street and vehicle safety is something you learned, and your children need to learn. Teach your kids to walk on the sidewalk whenever possible and look left, right then left again when crossing the street. Tell them to always be aware of vehicles backing out of driveways or parking spaces.
Parenting experts suggest teaching your children how to unbuckle their car seats. Kids as young as 2 or 3 years old can learn how to remove themselves from the car seat and honk the horn of the vehicle if they are stuck inside. Bigger kids can learn how to unbuckle their siblings and safely exit the vehicle to seek help.
- No Secrets
Communication is key to excellent parenting. Teach your children they can always be honest with you — even when they’ve done something wrong. Explain to them that a friend or family member should never ask them to keep a secret from you.
Your child’s independence requires mutual trust. You must trust that you’ve taught your children well, and they will practice what you’ve taught them. Watching your children grow and explore the world around them is one of the most rewarding parts of parenting.
Author bio: Kids Car Donations is a national organization that accepts vehicle donations to better the lives of children. The organization partners with a number of well-known nonprofits serving children and teens who are confronted with physical, mental and emotional challenges to provide the care they need.