Parenting In Focus: Keeping your children safe

As a parent, we need to understand ways to keep our children safe, and one of the most important ways to do this is to teach children important information about themselves.

That begins with your child’s name and phone number. If they can remember their address, teach that as well. Make a game of this. Ask your child to tell you these facts with some regularity to make sure she understands and knows this critical information.

A child should know his parents or guardian’s complete name. Most parents think their child knows this information; that is not always the case.

Make sure your child knows a family member or neighbor’s phone number. In an emergency and she cannot reach you, she needs to have some other person’s phone number to call.

Talk with your child about emergencies. Most children don’t know what an emergency is and what they should do. Make sure that as part of this discussion you talk about 9-1-1. Children need to understand when someone should call 9-1-1 and when they shouldn’t.

Your child also needs to understand who is a stranger and what to do if a stranger tries to get them into their car. Try to be calm when you discuss this. You really don’t want to make your child fearful of other people. The way you present this helps your child understand about being cautious.

Check your local library for books about these kinds of subjects. Sometimes it is easier to read about the topic and then to discuss it together. Other parents have had success taking their child to the police station and getting information there about public safety.

Talk with your child about what to do in case he gets lost in a public place like a shopping mall, a fair or carnivals, or parks. It is better for your child to ask for help than to keep wandering around hoping to find you.

These are ways to keep your young child safe. This is your responsibility to do and it goes on forever. There is no end to keeping your child safe.

The rules for keeping your teenager safe are different. But before your young child becomes a teenager, be sure to learn about smoking, drinking, sex, guns, driving and drugs. All of these subjects are ones you need to know about to raise an older child.

These are subjects that you are likely to need to talk with your child at some point. Lay the foundation for talks about any subject with your child. Be open, listen and learn.

You can buy many products to help keep your child of any age safer. However, nothing you can buy is as helpful as being a good parent who pays attention to their child.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which published newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents.