Parents worry about their children; it’s a fact of life. Teaching them to be safe as they grow and explore is one of your most important jobs. But with so many potential threats to worry about, the task can seem overwhelming. Here are a few basics to concentrate on:
• Discuss safety calmly. You want your children to be careful, not terrified. When you talk about safety matters, emphasize that your main concern is their welfare. Listen to their concerns, and answer their questions as clearly and honestly as you can.
• Highlight important information. Be sure your younger children know their home phone number and address, as well as contact information for another relative or trusted adult.
• Don’t just talk about strangers. Attacks or abductions by total strangers are (thankfully) very rare. Let children know they should tell you anytime they’re made uncomfortable by someone’s behavior, even if they know the person well.
• Play “what if?” Rules and advice can be too abstract for young minds to understand. Make it real by asking children what they would do in certain situations: If a stranger tried to get them into a car, for example, or if they got lost in a shopping mall.
• Discuss body issues. Let your children know that no one should be allowed to touch them in personal areas. Teach them what areas you’re talking about, with the proper names, so they can tell you accurately if something happens.