You know that old saying about having kids is like having a piece of your heart walking around in this world? It’s definitely true. I feel a piece of my heart is missing when one of my children is not with me.
I am so blessed to have my kids in my life, healthy and happy, and I thank God for them every day.
But traveling without one of them created a draft in my heart because she was away from me, not close to me to keep it warm and full. I realized that when I am without my children I fear for them until they are with me again. I am not sure if this is because I am neurotic and anxious or I am just being a normal mother. Maybe a bit of both? Yes, please just nod your head and make me feel better about my neurosis and anxiety.
It doesn’t matter who my kids are with when they are traveling somewhere without me – husband, grandparents, other family, etc. I worry not for their abilities as caretakers but for the unknown. I worry for those crazy things that happen to other people. I have been thinking so much about that Hailey Owens in Missouri who was abducted in plain sight, with good neighbors chasing the abductor trying to save the girl. The abductor was someone who worked in the school, and whether or not the child knew or recognized him, she felt comfortable enough to get close to his vehicle. I realize that we often neglect to discuss safety tips with our children for fear of scaring them.
Safety Tips for Kids: Make a Plan B
Do you have a Plan B set up and do your kids understand what it is? I realized yesterday that I need to make sure my kids have a Plan B. I need to make sure they understand what to do in a scary situation. Or even a situation that’s not so scary, like if a familiar face offers to take them somewhere. They need to know what to do, what to say, and how to make the right decision.
I know I have talked to my kids before about strangers, but we don’t ever really talk about familiar-person dangers. How they can be just as dangerous and sometimes more so than strangers. How do you explain to your kids why they shouldn’t go with anyone except who you specify without scaring them?
Kids should always know what the plan is when they are not with their parents. They should know who is supposed to transport them and when, and if that doesn’t happen, if parents are late or not home. We need to discuss safety tips with our children often and develop a solid Plan B that they don’t forget.
I really like these safety tips below from Scholastic about talking to kids about strangers and how to identify a safety net of trusted adults. This network of trusted adults can be worked into your child’s Plan B, so they know if their parent isn’t on time to pick them up they have a solid knowledge of who they can trust.
Safety Tips from Scholastic
Your child needs to know that his parents, caregivers, teachers, or other trusted adults are there to help if he has doubts, questions, or concerns about his safety. When sensational events about children are in the news, discuss them to make sure your child’s impressions are accurate. These talking points can help:
- Talk openly about strangers. Don’t assume that your young child actually knows what the word “stranger” means. Be sure she is aware that a stranger is anyone she doesn’t know. In a calm but firm manner, instruct her to never go anywhere, get in a car, answer questions, or accept anything from strangers – even if the person seems friendly. Stress the fact that strangers shouldn’t be asking children for help or giving them things. Remind her that it’s sometimes okay, however, to ask strangers for help. Children should know that certain people, although strangers, can be sources of help — a police officer, a mall security person, a store salesperson, or a mother with children.
- Help your child identify a safety net of trusted adults and places, such as stores, schools, libraries, churches, synagogues, and homes of neighbors. Discuss safe routes to use on the way to and from school and other destinations, as well as places to avoid, such as deserted areas and parking lots.
- Discuss what your child should do if he is separated from you, his caregiver, or teacher in a public place. Make sure he knows he should go to an employee or security guard and not leave the site.
- Encourage your child to trust her intuition and to take action when she senses she is in danger. Tell her not to worry about being polite, but to make a lot of noise, run away, scream, shout, kick, or punch. Teach the NO-GO-TELL system. Your child should: l) Say NO if someone tries to touch her or makes her feel scared or uncomfortable, 2) GO quickly way from the situation, and 3) TELL a trusted adult.
- When your child is old enough to go out alone, demand that he tells you the three Ws: whoI’m going with, where I’ll be, and when I’ll return home. Make sure your child informs you anytime his plans change.
- Make safety part of your routine everyday life. Alert your child to ploys that manipulative people may use to ingratiate themselves. Role-play some scenarios on a trip to a park or mall or other public place. For example, you might ask, “Suppose a person in a car asks you for directions? What if someone you don’t know comes to pick you up at school or at a playground? What if they say I sent them? What if they ask for your help in finding a lost pet? Or ask if you want to do something that sounds fun?” Practice these and other scenarios on a regular basis to reinforce safety concepts.
- Establish home and phone safety rules. When your child is old enough to stay home alone, she should keep the door locked and never answer questions over the phone or at the door.
- Be aware of your child’s Internet activities. Predators use online chat rooms and other Internet resources to arrange face-to-face meetings with children. Many Internet service providers provide parent-control options to block certain material from coming in to your child’s computer. Special filtering software is also an option for blocking objectionable material. Use these tools, and stay involved in your child’s activities.
Do you talk to your kids about their Plan B? Do they know what to do in the event you cannot meet them? How do you handle safety talks with your kids without scaring them?