Three Keys to Teaching Kids Safety
I catch myself feeling sorry for my kids because they are missing out on a lot of the experiences that I got to have as a child. When I was a kid, I had a lot more freedom than my kids do. By age eight I was roaming the neighborhood. We played out in the woods all day as a gang of kids and then came home for dinner. When we came back out after dark the only rule was that we had to stay in the three neighboring yards. We rode our bikes by ourselves to the grocery store down the street. Today, it isn’t safe for my kids to do that at their age.
I have been teaching my kids about common sense safety since they were old enough to speak. I believe that there are three keys to making my kids safer kids:
1. Teaching them to be observant.
2. Teaching them to be confident.
3. Reviewing safety techniques daily.
Being observant is a huge key that we tend to miss these days. I see kids and adults in public all of the time that are completely distracted, and therefore completely venerable. My children are not allowed to be in public with MP3 players or handheld video games. In public, we are not safe, unless we can see and hear what is going on around us. I teach my children to focus on their environment and to notice when something seems out of place. I set an example for them when I run by myself in our neighborhood. I have no ear buds in my ears, and I carry mace in my hand.
Confidence is also something that we often forget is important to keeping our children safe. Unfortunately, predators out there know how to shop for victims. As parents, we can use this knowledge to our advantage by teaching our children to never ever fit that profile. My kids know that if an adult that they do not know approaches them they should scream KIDNAPPER at the top of their lungs. More importantly, they know that if that adult turns out to not be a kidnapper that there is no harm, no foul. They know that they will never get in trouble for making that sort of mistake because their safety is way more important too me than my own embarrassment. I teach my kids to stand up straight, to look people in the eye, and to speak to them clearly and directly. Confident kids are far less likely to be preyed upon. I teach my children to be as loud as possible when it comes to strangers.
There are gobs of simple safety techniques that can be taught to kids that are very young in age. The important thing about teaching them these techniques is to go over them often. Growing children can forget things in a few months, so the key is to review safety over and over. I teach my kids where to hit an adult and how important it is to fight back, scream, and always defend themselves. I remind them constantly that safety is found in numbers. We also spar with our kids on occasion so that they feel confident in how to do this. I think that any martial art can have a positive impact on a child’s sense of confidence when it comes to self-defense. I always fall back to our time spent in the car together to remember that I have a captive audience, and that it is a great time to review techniques that can help to keep us safe. I find comfort knowing that with repetition, I can provide my children the tools that they might need in case a dangerous situation should ever arise.