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Empower Your Child With Summer Fun Safety Tips!


Summer break is here, and as camps, outings, and summer parties get underway, we may not always be right there next to our kids as they venture out this season. That's why it's so important that we arm them with some effective and empowering safety skills as summer begins. Here is some basic safety advice for parents and children, whether you're at Disneyland, on vacation, camp, or even at the local supermarket.

The Safe Stranger

We often tell our kids not to talk to strangers. However, in certain instances, children may need to identify a "safe stranger" in an emergency. In a recent local news story, a child was lost on an outing and too afraid to ask for help. The child ended up wandering around on their own, not sure what to do or where to go. Luckily, it was resolved happily, and the parents were reunited with their child, unharmed, after about an hour of panicked searching. A lot of this could have been avoided if the child had been given some empowering safety skills to fall back on, including the safety tip: "if lost or scared, it's ok to ask a MOM WITH KIDS for help." * See tip #4 below.

1. My Body Is MINE!

First and foremost, all children (regardless of their age) must know that they are "the boss of their bodies". That simply means that their body belongs only to them, and that no one should try to play an uncomfortable or "yucky" touching game with them, especially with their "bathing suit areas" or "private parts" of their body. This is especially important as kids head off to swim camps or pool parties where you may not be around. Talk to your child beforehand and let them know that they should tell you right away if anyone tries to play a "touching game". Reassure them that by telling you immediately, you can help them. (PS…Remind young children that it's not "tattling" if it's about keeping your body safe. Rename it something empowering like "being a safety reporter.")

2. Just A Phone Call Away!

Make sure your kids (especially the young ones) know your cell phone number. For very young children, there are some great online companies that make adorable, personalized tattoos with your phone number. Or simply write it down on a piece of paper and put it in their pocket… tell them it's their "safety pocket".

3. Fluorescent kids!

Dress kids in bright colors so they can be easily spotted in a crowd. Take a picture of them with your cell phone just before you leave the house!

4. Find Safe Help!

If lost, children should ask a "mom with kids" for help. That's a safe stranger. Studies show that a mom with children will take a vested interest in helping a lost child and will stay with them until their parent is found.

5. Freeze and Yell!

If a child suddenly can't find mom or dad, the first thing they should do is stay right where they are and FREEZE AND YELL. By staying in one place and shouting for mom or dad, there is a good chance their parent is nearby and the child will only be "lost" for a very short time. Another option: kids can go to the CASH REGISTER PERSON, to ask for help. In an amusement part, point out specific uniformed personnel, when you first arrive, who can help.

6. Take Giant Steps!

Play the 3 Giant Steps Game: Teach your kids that they should never be more than three giant steps away from you. This is a fun way to remind kids to stay close by in large crowds or outings. It's a lot more fun than having mom or dad constantly harp "Stay here, don't wander." Making safety a game when you're out and about really works!!

7. Stay Where You Are!

Remind your child to NEVER go out to the parking lot looking for you if you get separated. Tell them you'd never leave the store, beach, park, etc. until you were reunited.

8. Set Up A Meeting Place!

With older children, decide upon on a "meet-up location" ahead of time. For example: "If we get separated, we'll meet at... the merry-go-round, lifeguard station #25, right underneath the big 'Target' sign near the entrance."

9. Countdown!

On family outings, have the kids take turns doing a "kid-count" after each ride, activity, or periodically during a hike or walk. This keeps everyone on their toes throughout the day. When kids are active participants in the safety rules, they are more likely to stick to them.

10. Restrooms Are Not For Resting!

Always bring young children into the restroom with you. Avoid facilities that are down dark or long hallways. Look for well-lit restrooms in high traffic areas. Older children should use the buddy system; they should not enter a restroom alone.

11. Check First

Kids at every age should practice the "CHECK FIRST" rule. Kids must always check first with you or the grown-up in charge, before going anywhere in a public place including: another store, play area, the food court, restroom, hiking trail, etc.



Pattie Fitzgerald is the founder of Safely Ever After, Inc. and is recognized as a leading expert in the field of childhood sexual abuse prevention education. Social Toddler offers local event and activity listings, parenting advice from industry experts, and a social networking platform where parents can find playgroups, plan playdates and meet other moms and dads in their area. For more information, please visit www.safelyeverafter.com or www.socialtoddler.com

 

 

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