It’s never too early to teach your kids how to take care of themselves. Criminals aren’t going to wait until they are “of age” to see them as targets. Use the following tips to get the point across to your children.
1. Help them learn where they live. While they are ticking off those ABCs, add some other helpful information as well. They might not be able to spell their address but they can memorize it. If they are ever lost, they can find help and get back to you.
2. Teach them to say your name. They’ll only use your name when they are in trouble just like you use their full name when they are in trouble. Saying “mommy” and “daddy” isn’t going to help the police.
3. Tell them how to answer the door. To a child, someone with a smile seems friendly. So, telling them not to open the door to a stranger might get confusing. When you are not around (using the bathroom or in the shower), a child shouldn’t let anyone in the house even if it is a family member. At a young age, this will prevent them from opening the door to the wrong person. When they are older, they can open the door to people that they recognize.
4. Set ground rules for older kids. Older kids and teens especially see time alone as time to play and get away with mischief. It could also be a time that could lead to disaster. When you are away from home, tell them under no uncertain terms are they to let anyone in the house, even friends. And, telling anyone on the phone that parents are not home is a no-no and so is giving out personal information about themselves or their family over the telephone.
5. Teach them to protect themselves away from home. The one exception to the rule of obeying their elders is when an adult is making them feel uncomfortable. Then they have the right to pull away, yell, scream, kick and run as fast as they can in search of help. Make sure that kids understand that this includes people that they are acquainted with who are the perpetrators.
6. Show them how to use a cell phone. These devices are handy for talking to friends but they can be a lifesaver in a dangerous situation. Even young kids who walk home from school or are latch-key kids can benefit from carrying a cell phone. For young kids there are cell phones like Firefly that allow you to program in important numbers for them. All your child has to do is press one of the big buttons for the phone to start dialing. It’s easy and gives parents peace of mind.
You don’t want to rob your kids of their childhood by telling them about the scariness in the world. To keep it that way, give them the ability to arm themselves with the street smarts and information that will save their lives.
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