With the world getting bigger by the day, the scary truth is that you’re not always going to be able to hold your little one’s hand! However much we may hope that no harm will come to our children, it is always better to teach them how to be prepared and safe. Child safety is a crucial part of their development and growth. Teaching them about safety can be a challenging feat to accomplish. To start off you have to imagine the various dangers your offspring may face which, on its own, can be a harrowing thought. But children are intuitive by nature and quick to grasp new information, so the earlier you teach them how to keep themselves safe, the more protected they will be!
Make sure your child is comfortable and ready to have this conversation about safety. It is important that they don’t get afraid while you talk to them. So, make sure your tone is casual and reassuring, and not one that will instil fear in them.
In today’s world, with children interacting with a lot of people from a very young age, learning to understand the difference between a good touch and a bad touch is crucial for your little one. Once that differentiation has been understood, it is important that your child can approach you if they feel uncomfortable with the way they were touched.
Our video ‘No Touch’ talks about how you can make your child recognize a good touch or bad touch. Take a look at the video below, and start talking to them about their boundaries at the earliest!
It is necessary that your child has a safe group or safe circle that they can approach whether they’re in trouble, unhappy, or just want to talk. A safe circle is the few most-trusted people in your child’s life. At KLAY, we encourage children and parents to make a ‘safe circle’ on paper using pictures of the ‘safe’ people in their child’s lives – parents, grandparents, siblings, and their teacher.
Ensure your children don’t keep any ‘body secrets’- i.e. secrets about having been inappropriately touched or made to feel uncomfortable – and come straight to you, especially if someone tells them to ‘keep it a secret’, or ‘play a game and not tell mum and dad’. Having them talk about such experiences is a healthy practice that will help them cope with and process what happened, and make sure that your child safety is ensured.
Teach your little one the importance of setting personal boundaries. They need to understand the concept of personal space from a very young age. If they feel like someone is invading their space, they shouldn’t be afraid to yell out. Think of a phrase or a code word together, which they can yell, in case they feel like they’re in danger. Choose something that will catch the attention of passers-by!
Instruct your little ones to always stay in a group or to stay with friends (or relatives) when outside. Their buddies will keep them safe, and they can keep their buddies safe too! If, your little one is alone, make sure they know that they have to call you to inform you that they are alone.
Also, ensure that they know they should never leave school, play-dates, or anywhere with anyone else – known or unknown – unless you know of it, and are okay with it!
Ensure your children know their home address – at least the locality they stay in, mum’s and dad’s full name and phone numbers (at least one phone number!) This will come in-handy if they are in trouble and need to reach out to you.
Spend time on the weekends and in the evenings verbally creating various virtual situations for your child to think about how they would respond if faced with a challenge. ‘What would you do if I’m late to pick you up, and (familiar person) aunty offered to drop you home?’
This gives them the space to think of and tell you how they would respond to different situations. It also gives you the opportunity to correct them or suggest a safer alternative (if you’re uncomfortable with the solution they came up with) and ensure your child safety at school or in any place in your absence.) In the case of the example above, your little one may say, ‘I’ll tell my teacher and go with XYZ aunty’. However, you may need to teach them to call you first to find out if you’re okay with this plan.
Teaching your child road safety rules should be a part of your routine to keep them safe. Teach them the right way of crossing a road – ‘Find a zebra crossing, look left, look right, look left again! All clear? Go!’ Make it a habit to practice this sequence every time you are out together.
Also, encourage your child to walk on the side of the road where they can see the on-coming traffic!
It is important to teach your children to stand up for themselves, be it against a bully or against actions or words that harm them and their space. This will help your young one develop their own voice, instinct and self-esteem.
If your little one takes any medication ensure they carry it in their backpack, along with dosage and information, at all times. Also if they are allergic to any food or medication, ensure they carry a note stating the same. Further, it is necessary to educate them about medical problems that they face, if any so, that your child’s medical safety is ensured at all times even in your absence.
While your little one is having the time of their life running around and playing in the park, it is necessary that certain norms are followed. This not only ensure child’s playground safety, but also the safety of others around them. While it’s natural for them to be excited, make it a point that they wait for their turn on the swings or slides. Teach them to maintain a safe distance from the swings to avoid accidents. In case they are pushed or pulled, they need to be taught to reach out to you or an accompanying adult, instead of hitting the other child back!
Talking to your child about their day, the happy moments and not so happy moments in their day, their friends, and their lives not only keeps them connected but also helps them feel safer. The most important balance to strike here is between talking and listening. The more you actually listen to what they have to say, the safer and more comfortable they will feel talking to you about anything.
So super mums and super dads, remember, safety first always!
With children out of school, physical distancing as the new norm, and children’s rights under threat, the new world order has “turned back the clock” on years of progress made on children’s well-being. However, it’s not all bad. As a human race, we’ve been built to adapt: we’ve seen a tipping point in technology-enabled education and the promise of a new education policy in our country.