Personal safety skills for children are vital to their overall health and wellbeing.
We all want our children to stay safe from harm; however, no parent can be with their child every minute of every day. We must, therefore, do our best to empower our children with the skills and knowledge they need to respond safely to difficult situations in the absence of a parent or trusted guardian.
Talking to your child about personal safety can seem daunting to many parents; however, it is important to your child’s health and wellbeing to have these conversations.
Strategies to keep your child safe.
There are some very easy steps parents can take to help their child stay safe in a variety of difficult situations. By helping your child to define what ‘safe’ means to them and by learning some simple safety strategies, your child will be better equipped and feel more confident to respond to situations where they feel unsafe.
Key personal safety concepts to discuss with your child include:
- Talking to them about feeling safe. Discuss what feeling safe means to them. Ask them how they know they are safe and talk about situations that would make them feel unsafe.
- Help your child to recognise and trust their body’s ‘early warning signs’ such as their heart beating fast, sweaty palms, the feeling of butterflies in their stomach, feeling sick, getting wobbly legs or goose bumps etc.
- Talk to your child about what to do if their body gives them early warning signs – say no, yell, scream, run away and go to talk to an adult in their safety network. Practice saying “NO” loudly and forcefully, particularly as children can find it confusing and confronting to say no to an adult.
- Ask your child to identify and name adults who they trust and would include in their safety network.
- Agree on a safe word for your family. That way, if your child is ever approached by an adult and are unsure whether they should go with them, they can ask them for the safe word first.
Remember to also take advantage of teachable moments throughout the day. Repetition is essential to ensure your child retains key concepts, so the more frequently you can repeat this information or practice it, the better!
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