Keep Your Kids Safe This Summer: Take 5 and Connect
If you’re like me, you have likely tricked your brain into thinking that summer will be slower or a “break” from the everyday hustle of packing lunches, rushing to the bus stop, parent-teacher conferences, sports and recitals. But if history repeats itself, and this summer is like others, it will most assuredly be just as hectic. Kids are going off to camp, visiting family, having slumber parties and field trips. As they head in these different directions, let’s take 5 and connect with them, prepare them and remind them we love them and want ensure they are safe.
Connect: The best way to protect our children is to connect with them. Quality time and communication sends the message that they are valuable, and communicating their value and worth helps build resilience and healthy self-esteem. Take 5 and ask some open-ended questions that invite them to open up.
“What are you excited about this summer?”
“What are you nervous about?”
“Is there anything that you are scared to do or try?”
These open questions give them the opportunity to share if anything worries them, and allows you the opportunity to ease any fears, encourage them, and remind them you are always there for them.
Your children are possibly headed to new places and will be around new, unfamiliar people. Take 5 and ensure your kiddos know what to do if someone scares them or makes them uncomfortable. I am confident that you already talk to your children about safety issues, but if we continually weave it into our “everyday” dialogue, it reduces any inhibitions they may have in asking questions about the challenging subjects of internet safety, abuse, bullying, etc.
Here are some personal safety messages that can be woven into conversations (NOT ALL GIVEN AT ONE TIME). Keep in mind that you are not trying to prepare your children for every possible scenario or situation that might arise – you are trying to help them learn to be confident and empowered in their relationship with you, so that they will come to you if anything makes them uncomfortable. (Tweak to fit your family structure and circumstances as well as the age of your child.)
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, please tell me.
If someone hurts you in any way, please tell me.
If someone tells you not to tell me something, or scares you, please tell me.
If you are feeling sad or lonely, please tell me.
If you are confused about something that someone says or does, please tell me.
If someone hurts your feelings, please tell me.
Who do you feel comfortable talking to when you have a problem? I hope you will always feel comfortable talking to me. (You may also want to identify other adults you want to refer your child to if he/she has something to talk about that he/she is uncomfortable talking with you about, like a school counselor, church leader, etc.)
It is always OK to tell me if something is bothering you. If you see something going on with one of your friends and your friend seems like he/she is hurting in some way, please tell me.
Guest post authored by: Autumn Williams, Curriculum Specialist, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center