Going Into Mama Bear Mode
I recently had a gut wrenching, heart stopping, prickly feel it in your throat experience regarding safety with my five year old daughter a few weekends past.
I was doing four loads of laundry with my child at the neighborhood laundromat and just as I was about done and ready to load the car, a stranger takes it upon herself to sit my daughter on her lap and begin to whisper to her. In that moment, I quickly felt danger and because of that I quickly jumped into mama bear mode and removed my daughter from the situation.
Afterwards, I politely yet sternly told the lady that she had no right to do what she did. I left the laundromat soon after with a scared daughter. In the car ride home my daughter told me that the stranger made her sit on her lap and it was after that statement “made her” that my heart sunk and that it dawned on me that I never really had a formal sit down talk with my little one about safety and child abuse. I mean when really is it a good time to have talks as such… my answer, after that day, was now is the right time. Especially now since the incident and since most of our children, and my child particularly, are spending their summers away from us with people we do not know so well in overnight or all day camps.
It is important that we take control of what we can and have a sit down talk with our child(ren) about safety. It could be the very thing that saves them. Before the talk, I must admit, I did my research to prepare for the delicate conversation. After doing the much needed research I feel comfortable sharing some tips with you and my daughter on what I discovered about how to teach your child about child safety/child abuse.
1. Teach your child(ren) the meaning of PANTS Privates are private Always remember your body belongs to you No means no Talk about secrets that upset you Speak up, someone can help
2. Teach your child(ren) the formal words for the male and female anatomy. The reason being, if something should happen when the incident needs to be retold, there will be no misconceptions about what part of the body was violated.
3. Ask your child(ren) to play in areas where they can be seen and supervised by a parent guardian or worker at all times. Anything can happen at any time…so it is important to know that a responsible adult is not far away to help if needed. (This is the step that saved me with the laundry incident)
4. Teach your child(ren) not to disclose personal information like their full name, address, phone number, etc to strangers.
5. Teach your children their personal information in the case of an emergency so that the proper authorities may be notified.
6. Play “what if” with your child(ren) to test their knowledge about safety and child abuse. ie. What if a stranger offered you candy, would you take it? What if a stranger asked you to go with them somewhere, would you go? etc.
7. Keep the lines of communication open with your child(ren). He/she/they should always feel like he/she/they can come to you to talk about anything. I hope you have found my story and my tips to be helpful to you and yours. If you can, reiterate these tips as often as you can to your child(ren). May they help to keep your child(ren) safe.