The Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center recently has published a newsletter talking about family safety. The big question asked was "When is the right age to talk about personal safety with your child?" Their answer - there is no right age.
Children of every age learn about how to be safe. When babies are learning to crawl and walk, they
look to their parents to help protect them and teach them to be safe. Toddlers are protected from
What the Gundersen Center does recommend is having a family safety night twice a year, keeping in mind that as questions and "what if" scenarios are brought up, or situations arise that need to be discussed, that those are addressed.
- Have your children trace their hands, and in each finger, write the name of an adult they can talk to if someone is breaking their personal safety rules.
- Choose a code word specific to your family that can be used if your child needs a ride home with no questions asked.
- Use the "what if" model by using scenarios to learn more about what your child already knows, doesn't know, and to encourage more conversation. These can include questions such as:
- "What if the person breaking your body safety rules is someone that we know and like? What would you do then?"
- "What if you get a bad feeling around someone, but don't know why?"
- "What if you're in a place where you don't know anyone, and are scared?"
Teaching children about what to do in various situations can help protect them from potential
dangers. Some situations to talk about with your children, as is developmentally appropriate, are:
- Stranger Danger - Which strangers are safe to talk to, i.e. police, moms with kids, etc.
- Good touch, bad touch
- What to do if they're lost
- What to do when they are in a situation that makes them uncomfortable
- How to say "No", even to people they like and care about
Having Family Safety Nights are a great way to talk about hard topics in a way that isn't scary to kids. It helps prepare children to know what to do if a safety problem comes up. It also helps children to not be afraid, but to be able to act if a threat to their safety arises.