Children are very adorable, and if you ask most parents what’s the best thing that ever happened to them, they would likely tell you it’s their kids – such is the magnitude of joy children bring with them into whichever families they are born into. However, having children is the easy part (yea, even with the sometimes near-death experiences some women have in the labour room before these bundles of joy are born) – the hard part is parenting. Parenting is by no chance an easy task, as in order to safely see their children through childhood and all the numerous risks associated with that stage of their lives, parents will have to virtually become professionals in a lot of fields, from teaching to counselling, psychology, nursing and everything inbetween. So much is demanded of parents that it may sometimes be challenging to know all the right things to do to ensure that their children are as safe as possible – this is especially common with new parents with no “work” experience. LOL. Yea, parenting is actually one hell of work. To help out, below are 20 safety tips every parent needs to know:
1. Try to know the kind of friends your children keep.
It doesn’t matter if your child is just seven years old or a teenager, it’s always imperative you know who they move with. Encourage your kids to their friends over to your house for launch or small house parties where you have the opportunity to observe them. Give them a free hand; makes it easier to know them for who they really are.
2. Tell your children the roles of their school teacher aside teaching.
Your kids need to know that they should never hesitate to report any issues they have at school to their class teacher, as the teacher is their guardian whenever they’re at school. If someone or something is making them feel uncomfortable, they must report to the teacher. However, they also need to know that you should be their number one confidant, so if their teacher fails to help, or the teacher is the problem, they should report to you.
3. Monitor their activities on the internet
This one can be a bit tricky because the more kids grow, the more privacy they demand, so you don’t want to be caught spying on them whenever they are on the internet, as they’ll most likely simply find ways to avoid you. But since cyberbullying is still a thing and most times the victims never have the courage to speak out, you just have to protect the mental health of your children by ensuring they don’t fall prey. You can do this by installing some spying software on the home PC they access the internet with. Just be as discreet as possible so you don’t ruin your good intentions.
4. Teach them self defense
You can’t possibly get your children “too prepared” for life, as just about anything can happen when you least expect. There may be times when they find themselves in situations where there’s nobody to help them against an enemy, hence the need for you to teach them how to defend themselves whenever they have to.
5. Teach them to be very observant
Is a stranger suddenly getting too close to them in a way that makes uncomfortable? Is someone looking at them in a suspicious way? They should prepare to run or raise alarm.
6. Tell them to always wait in their school compound till you arrive to pick them
On no condition should your child leave their school premises to wait for their ride outside, as doing that may make them vulnerable to abduction and other dangers. Teach them to see their school as a safe haven.
7. Don’t follow strangers
Tell your children that it doesn’t matter how friendly a stranger is, they must never follow them anywhere. And if the stranger tries to force them, they should scream “I don’t know this person,” to attract attention from people around.
8. Have your kids memorize important phone number and addresses
Should your child miss their way and get found by someone who wants to help them, it would be much easier if your child knows important phone numbers and addresses to give.
9. Ensure your children know you beyond “Dad” or “Mom”
A whole lot of children live with strangers as parents. Yea, what do you say about someone whose first name you don’t even know? This should never be you. While they may still refer to you as Dad or Mom most times, tell them your first and last names – they may need them in cases of emergency.
10. Teach your children how to find you in a crowd
If you’re in a crowded place with your child and they lose their way, instinctively they’d want to move around, trying to locate you. However, that makes it more difficult for both of you. Instead, tell them to remain where they are the moment they discover they’re lost, and call out your first name, probably add the last one, too, till you reunite.
11. Teach your children to swim
It doesn’t matter whether you have a pool in your house or not, ensure your kids know how to swim because on one of those hangouts with their friends, someone might suggest swimming, and if everybody starts swimming, your child might be tempted to join in the fun. Ensure they’re prepared for such moments.
12. Cars are great, but they can be dangerous, too
Don’t ever dash out of your car, leaving your child locked inside, simply because you don’t intend staying long at the mall. A lot could go wrong. Also, when in motion, don’t forget to use the “child lock.”
13. Tell your child Never keep a secret from you
This is very important because most of the issues your child is likely to have can be easily sorted out, or even prevented, if only you knew about them. Many child molesters encourage, or threaten, their victims to “never tell anybody”. In fact, let your child know that whenever anybody instructs them to never let you know about something, such person doesn’t mean well and must be reported to you immediately.
14. Teach your child to cross the street
It is very easy to get your child used to the routine of moving from the house to their school and back, all while in a car that they don’t even know how to cross the street. This is something you want to avoid. Take your child out and teach them all the need to know about crossing the street – this is one basic lesson they shouldn’t miss.
15. Let your children know they’re your priority
More than words, this is something you need to tell them practically. You should be the closest person to your child, and they should be most comfortable around you. And showing that you prioritize them is a good way to build this sort of bond. Always create time to listen to them whenever they have something to tell you. That way, no stranger with an ulterior motive will be able to take your place as their chief confidant, by giving them the attention they need.
16. Never Walk Alone
No, this doesn’t have anything to do with Liverpool FC. Haha. The point here is the need to teach your kids to always move in company of friends, or at least one other person. This greatly reduces the possibilities of them getting attacked, as most attackers prefer kids walking alone, since they believe there won’t be much drama involved.
17. Home alone? Tell no one
If you ever have to leave your children in the house while you’re away, instruct them to never answer the phone, or at least, if they do, they must never tell the caller that you’re away. They can just tell the caller that you’re busy, and hang up immediately.
18. Create a safety code
One of the standing instructions is for your kids to not trust strangers, but what happens in cases of emergency when you have to send a stranger to your child? This is where the safety password comes in. Ensure the password is known to you and your child, alone. Educate your child about why it’s important they share it with nobody. Then let them know that if any stranger claims to be from you, they should only believe if the stranger is able to tell them “the code.”
19. Protect your child’s identity
You might be tempted to put name tags on your child’s lunchbox, backpack, etc, but it’s not advisable, as any stranger can easily attempt to gain your child’s trust by addressing them by their first name. If you must label such personal items, you might want to consider creating another code for that purpose.
20. Help your children identify security officers and see them as friends
Yes, your child knows to report issues to you when at home and their teacher when at school. But what happens if they feel threatened on the streets? Here’s why they need to know that those ladies and gentlemen in uniforms are there to ensure their safety.
There’s never going to be an exhaustive list of tips you’ll need as parents to ensure your kids are safe at all times, because sincerely, there’s about a thousand and one of them. However, this list has been able to provide basic tips for when they’re at home, at school, and even on the streets; hopefully, with them, your children will be safer.