Every parent wants to keep her child safe and sound. Because you can’t keep him locked in your arms forever, one of the best offense tactics in the land of dangerous possibilities is education. Teaching your child basic safety rules will help prepare him for the unexpected, as well as how to avoid scary scenarios from occurring.
Teach your child basic safety rules for the home. Have your child practice reciting his full name, address and phone number. He shouldn’t answer the front door when someone comes knocking, unless it’s someone he knows. Otherwise, doors and windows should remain locked unless you say otherwise. Personal information should never be given over the phone, unless he is calling 911 during an emergency. He should also never let strangers know he’s home alone. Set rules on whom he can have over when you’re not there. Always remember to work on open communication with your child, letting him know you’re available to talk if something comes up or if he has worries or fears. Discuss the issue and how to handle them.
Even young children can benefit by knowing what to do in an emergency. Talk about what kinds of emergencies can happen, such as injury, intruder or fire, and what to do. Write your address and phone number on a sticky label and place it on or near the phone, just in case he gets flustered in the heat of the moment. Unplug the phone and have your child practice calling 911. You can be the operator and ask questions such as, “What is your emergency?” or “What is your address?”
Go over general fire safety rules with your child. Show your child to drop to the floor and crawl when he sees smoke in your home. Demonstrate how to check doors with the back of the hand before opening them. Draw up an escape plan and designate a meeting place. Practice what to do when smoke or fire is present. Let your child help you check your fire alarms regularly and replace fire extinguishers by the time they expire.
Go over Internet safety with your child, especially because children are learning how to use computers at a younger age. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children recommends visiting the NetSmartz Workshop (see References) with your child to go over Internet safety. If you place the computer your child uses in a common area, you’ll be able to monitor what sites he visits. Implement privacy settings on social networking sites and set parental controls on the computer. Again, emphasize that he should never share personal information with people he doesn’t know.
Out and About
When your child is out in the community, advise him to walk with at least one other person whenever possible. He should walk on a familiar route to schools and parks. Map out the route and point out landmarks that he can remember. Designate a familiar location for him to stay at if he gets lost or something unexpected happens. Give him a prepaid calling card to have on him at all times. Caution him to never take rides from strangers, even if they say that you said it was OK. Tell him it’s best to trust his instincts in unfamiliar circumstances.