Your heart is pounding in the dark, your hands are clammy, and your mind is reeling with the near-miss your child had today.
You know that feeling… when you’re up all night worried about something your child did or said, endlessly replaying something that happened (or almost happened), wondering what might have been the outcome had you not been there.
Well, I have some bad news for you: this struggle for your child’s safety is a life-long pursuit, the only thing that will change are the perceived “dangers.” And what’s more, you won’t always be there to prevent them.
Fortunately, I also have some good news for you!
You may not always be there to ensure your child’s safety but there are some things you can do to empower them to protect themselves.
Child Safety Tip #1: Help your child understand danger
The point here isn’t to talk to your kid about all the dangerous things that are out there (I assume you do that already). Rather, it’s about this:
(a) remember that there are benefits to certain “dangers”
You see, a lot of times, things become dangerous when kids don’t understand them or don’t understand how to handle them. This is actually a problem of lack of experience, and sheltering our children from harm only promotes further harm down the line. Why?
Because kids learn a lot about themselves (their skills and abilities, as well as their weaknesses) when they are able to participate in a broad range of experiences. If we don’t allow them to have these experiences, we deprive them of opportunities to test their limits and develop some of the skills they need to overcome new challenges.
On the other hand, letting our children engage in “dangerous play” helps them learn how certain things impact them and what they need to do to protect themselves.
(b) learn to distinguish what is and is not a “big deal“
This just means that not everything that is scary or could potentially cause an injury needs to be deemed “dangerous” (e.g. climbing a tree), and if we can help our children distinguish between what is truly a cause for concern and what is not, we’ve gone a long way to protecting them.
Sure, our kids may get hurt or injured climbing trees, but that’s not a reason to stop engaging in certain activities. Rather, we need to teach them how to handle the fall-out of some of these choices in a positive and productive way (not to avoid these choices).
Child Safety Tip #2: Teach your child to be brave
Bravery and courage don’t come naturally to all kids. That’s not to say they cannot slowly build a stash of courage.
Why does courage event matter?
Because making the right choices (the ones that will keep your child safe) often requires a great deal of courage.
Child Safety Tip #3: Help your child find mentors
You are your child’s first mentor, but you will not be the only one (nor the primary one). That mentor will probably be one of your child’s peers (at least until your child is old enough to be more discerning). Yikes!
So, teach your child how to find the right mentor, one that will provide him with support, guidance, and positive feedback once you been so callously removed from this role.
Child Safety Tip #4: Establish a habit of communication with your child
Start developing positive ways of communicating with your child. That means you need to talk, talk, talk. And remember, you’re not talking at your child but with your child.
Also, hone your “talking” skills with these strategies (which are actually really good for also teaching your kid how to be an effective negotiator – something that will come in handy when they are in tricky spots).
Child Safety Tip #5: Help your child develop positive self-esteem
Positive self-esteem means that your child believes that he/she is capable of taking care of themselves. Encourage this notion, it’s incredibly powerful!
Sure, you’ll still worry – you’re a parent, after all. But stop staying up at night worrying about all the horrible things that can happen. That’s not going to help you or your kid stay safe. Instead, take my advice and start working on these five tips.
In fact, start today –> go to the park and encourage your child to climb the trees or monkey bars, or have your child help you cook (you can talk about knives and fire and what is dangerous/not).
If you’re stuck for ideas, drop me a comment and I’ll get right back to you!
*(photo courtesy of Martin Gommel)
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