Guest post by Whitney of Beauty in the Mess
Over the summer I was struck with how much I take for granted in regards to teaching my children safety skills. I’ve taught them not to play with scissors or knives. We don’t play with Daddy’s razor. We learned how to FaceTime Daddy if something ever happened (they love that one!). We keep the medicines and essential oils out of their reach. But if they were faced with a dangerous situation, I wasn’t sure how they would react.
We started with the basics and worked from there. These safety skills are continually talked about throughout the day and week at our house. I want my children to internalize these skills so if they are ever in the situation, they don’t have to think about it, they will just do it.
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7 Safety Skills to Teach Your Child
1. Know how to call 9-1-1
And know what info the dispatcher will need (name, age, address, what happened). Every week, we practice our phone number and address. I don’t make it scary. They think it’s fun.
2. Make a Fire Plan
If there was a fire in your house, would you and your children know what to do? Where to go? I would love to think that if there was a fire, my children would run straight to the door to get outside or grab the fire ladder to climb down to safety. But the reality is that my kids would be scared and hide somewhere. Especially my youngest who cries when we go out to eat and they bring fajitas to the table.
3. Take a field trip to your local fire station
Call your local fire station and set up a time to take your children and invite your friends. The kids will be able to see the trucks up close and personal. While you’re there, ask if one of the firefighters would mind putting on their full gear in front of the children. This was huge for my kids, and we need to do it again.
If there happens to be a fire and your child is hiding in a closet scared, if a firefighter comes looking for them, the child needs to know they are safe. I’ll admit, the fire gear is a little intimidating. All three of my children were scared. The three-year-old warmed up to him enough to give him five, but the five-year-old and two-year-old were terrified. We need to go back so that the firefighter in their gear is safe and comfortable, not intimidating and scary.
4. Most strangers are good
The keyword here is most. This one gets tricky. I want my children to be polite to new people we meet, but I want them to stay safe. We stay away from using terms like “stranger danger” because not all strangers are dangerous. What we have taught them, is that no adult should ask a child for help. If an adult needs help finding their puppy, or directions to the nearest frozen yogurt place, they will ask an adult. If they ask my children for help, my children know they are to run away and find me or my husband.
5. Only eat candy with Mommy and Daddy’s permission
While this may seem a little silly, hear me out. Go take a look at your medicine cabinet and see it through the eyes of your children. Bright colors. Little pieces. Yummy looking liquids. Obviously you’re going to try and keep medicines locked and out of the way at your own home, but what happens when they go to someone else’s house? Teach them if they see medicine or candy out, stop, and go get an adult.
6. No one should ever touch your child in their private areas unless Mommy and/or Daddy is there
Even at the doctor’s office, you should be there with your child if the doctor has to examine that area. Please also teach your children that this should never be a secret. We don’t keep secrets from Mommy and Daddy. I try to stress that. I don’t want someone touching my child and my child be afraid to tell me because that person told them to keep it a secret. The whole thought makes me sick to my stomach, but we have to talk about this.
7. Let your child know that it is never too late to tell someone
Whether there is a bully on the playground hurting your child with words, someone they know touching them in places they shouldn’t, a friend trying to get them to eat this “candy” because it makes them feel funny, or someone trying to get them to keep a secret. It’s never too late to tell you. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Would they really lie about something like that? Ask questions, but never make them feel small. It probably took a lot of courage to get that secret out in the open, and they need to know that you love them no matter what.
Teaching these safety skills is ongoing. My children are 5, 3, 2, and 5 months, so the depth we go into each one is up to the maturity of each child. Like I said, my two year old is terrified of fire and firefighters in full gear. So we watch kid’s shows that talk about fire safety, try to find books that show fire and talk about fire safety. Anything to get them familiar with all things fire safety.
I hope you have found this list of safety skills helpful. By no means was this meant to scare or overwhelm you. There are just some topics that don’t come up in every day conversation that need to be addressed sometimes.
What safety skills would you add to the list?
Whitney is a lover of Jesus. She is a wife, mommy, lover of pumpkin spice lattes with a side of gluten free pumpkin bread, Disney addict. In her free time you can find her browsing Etsy or meandering through an antique store. You can check out her reviews, tips on using essential oils, and thoughts on motherhood at http://beautyinthemess.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
This is a great list! My husband is a firefighter and each year they do a presentation at the school and at the fire hall about fire safety. During the presentation, at least one member is in their gear so that kids can see what that looks like. I would think it would be pretty scary to see a firefighter in the middle of a fire if you were a little kid. Kids might even think it is a monster instead of someone there to help.
It’s a perfect list, and I should add swimming, as a safety skill as well…Thanks for the tips….
I would also include firearms safety. This should start at a young age and include always, always, always, following the basic safety rules starting with you guns (especially of children are too young to own or use guns themselves). Too many children are killed each year by friends who are curious and find guns in a friend’s home. The NRA has the Eddie Eagle program which teaches children the safety rules and encourages them to not touch guns then tell an adult if they find them (much like having your children ask to rematch candy).
My son (5) LOVES Eddie Eagle. I work in a firearm retail store and he has been doing Eddie Eagle since he could talk. Stop, Don’t touch, Run Away, Tell a Grown up. He made a song out of it, and we also used that to apply to sharp objects such as knives or broken glass. My husband and I are avid shooters and I think firearm and sharps safety is hugely important.
I would also add what to do if you get lost. Small children tend to run as fast and as far as they can until they fall down, which can make them very hard to find (in a mall or out camping etc). One of the best skills to teach a small child if they get separated from a group is to find a safe (sheltered, or out of traffic) spot and sit. Don’t run but sit and wait for help.
Children need to be taught their parents name. A lost child that only tell the police or store staff that your name is mommy isn’t going to help. If the child know his or her name along with your first and last name greatly increases your chances of being reunited faster.
Heather @ My Overflowing Cup
This is an excellent list, Whitney. I can’t think of anything to add to it, but I’m heading over to check out your site now. Thanks so much!
Thank you for this great list. I also taught my children when they were younger and we were out that if they became separated from me to look for a mom with a stroller to ask for help. Many of the places we went were frequented by stay at home moms (park, zoo, science museum) where there are plenty of moms but not a lot of policemen or other people with name tags (the obvious people to ask if you’re lost). The reasoning behind finding a mom with a stroller is they usually are used to talking to and understanding children and will be likely to be helpful. Plus, as my hubby jokes, a lady with a baby and a toddler probably isn’t looking to “pick up a spare” and will want them back with you ASAP 🙂
This is a really great list! I was wondering if you would write about seeing a fireman in full gear, and you did! When I was a small child, my dad was a firefighter. early one Christmas morning he was called out for a fire started from the lights on a christmas tree. There was a four year old boy in the house and he was so scared of the firemen that he hid under his bed. They didn’t find him in time……. That was a really hard year for my dad. And I think he still thinks about that every year at Christmas. Now I always try to teach my children that firemen may look scary but that stuff is just to keep them safe so they can help you. NEVER HIDE. Anytime we go to any sort of community function where firemen are out and about, I always go to the firemen, tell my dad’s story (so they understand why this crazy mom is introducing her kids to him), then I ask the kids to say hi to him and I ask him to put his face mask on quickly for the kids.
The only slightly ‘out of the ordinary’ thing that I teach my kids that I didn’t see on this list is to ALWAYS make sure they can see a driver’s EYES before they walk in front of an occupied vehicle. There was a sweet little six year old who was recently run over by a school bus. He bent down in front of the bus to tie his shoe and the bus driver couldn’t see him there, so she started to go. Anytime we’re walking through parking lots or crossing the street, I make sure the kids check to see if they can see the driver’s eyes and I remind them that they should be able to see the driver’s eyes at all times when they’re in front of the vehicle. If they can’t see the driver’s eyes, the driver can’t see them!
Ok. Now that I sound like a totally crazy, paranoid, psycho mama….I’ll do myself a favor and wrap this up 😉 Great blog post!
This is a great list. In addition, I taught my children IF anyone says, “DON’T TELL YOUR PARENTS,” that’s a good indication you NEED to tell them. This may have saved the life of a young friend who told my daughter that she had a handful of pills and was thinking of killing herself.
This is so helpful and so necessary for a mom of little ones. Thanks for the reminder we need to address and re-address these things!
I love your list! It is a great starting point. Look into the non profit organization called radKIDS. It is amazing. www.radkids.org.
Great ideas. For us dealing with strangers we tell the kids it is okay to talk with them if mommy and daddy are around. My youngest thinks everyone knows her because she is engaging and people will call her by her name often because they hear me saying it so often when in public.
The best advice I have ever been given was teaching our kids that mommy and daddy are “secret keepers” and they can come and tell us anything. This only works as long as you actually do it, as they get older they will understand this is true with a few exceptions.
Found this on Pinterest–excellent! I never would have thought about the fire -gear issue, but our kiddos are familiar because so many folks they know volunteer here. It’s a great point. Stranger-danger too. We’ve try to teach our kids how to find an adult to help them to, look for uniforms, name badges, etc. Not someone that comes to them, but someone they can go to. They can’t be afraid of strangers–they need to be able to get help.
These are so great-I know my own family has been very negligent of fire safety in particular. I would like to just make a comment though, regarding “stranger danger”: I have read that in the case of a child getting lost, it is best to teach them to look for help from a female, first. Sadly we live in a day and age where just looking for a uniform (policeman, firefighter, etc.) may actually not be advantageous as there are unfortunately individuals who abuse those positions. Statistically a female is less of a threat and will generally stay with the child until the parent is found.
This is a terrific post with some great tips for parents and kids. I am with SOS 4 Kids of Toronto, Canada and we offer interactive safety training programs for children and youth. Our very popular “Home Alone Safety for kids” program is very current and teaches kids 9 – 12 about street smarts, people safety, fire safety, safe internet usage, at home safety, injury prevention, basic first aid and home alone readiness. It is offered Canada-wide and in October, our partners launched the program in California. Another partner will be launching soon in Texas. Your community would certainly benefit from this type of programming. Please visit our website at www.safetycoursesforkids.com if you are interested in bringing this course to your community.
Love this. I’d love to see something about gun safety, too. I’m in Texas. While we don’t own a gun many people do. I think the fact that we don’t own a gun makes it more dangerous for our kids because they aren’t growing up around them.
This is a really great list. The only thing I would add is for parents and their children: Walking in areas where there are cars – parked or moving, requires a stop and look both ways. I see too many parents with children walking into streets, from behind parked cars and so many variations. Seldom do I see an adult stop with the children and look both ways before proceeding to cross safely. Even young mothers with strollers just push the carriage/stroller right into oncoming traffic without a look first. And then people wonder why they get hit.
I would have to disagree with number four. I agree that most strangers are not dangerous BUT because you can’t tell which are “the good guys” they should never talk to strangers. I have taught them that if they are with me and a stranger speaks to them it is fine to answer but if they are uncomfortable I do not force them. I simply explain that they have been taught not to speak to strangers. I have never had anyone think they are rude and usually get a “good job” for having taught them so well. I also talk to them about never leaving an area with another child, if a child needs help they should always bring them to me. We also teach them they should NEVER go into a house without checking with me or my husband.
Thanks for the tips!
Instead of stranger danger (and to help with the fact that most molestations etc aren’t strangers) we’ve taught our kids to NEVER go ANYWHERE with ANYONE unless mom or dad knows. Want to go grab ice cream with your Uncle? Awesome, let us know first. Want to go to Academy with your friend and his dad? Check with us first. Want to get some extra practice time with your coach? Check with us first. And, clearly, a stranger pulls up and offers you a ride, check with us first (while never getting near the car). That way, I always know who they were with, and the adult they are with knows I know. And we also covered the “never keep secrets from mommy or daddy Especially if another adult asks you to, and no one but mommy or daddy or a doctor Who Needs To should touch their private areas. We also, from birth, taught our kids (and used whenever talking about them) the proper names for all their body parts. Head, elbows, shoulders, knees, penis, vulva, they’re all just body parts. It’s important for kids to know proper terminology. It helps at Drs appts, it gives them ownership over their entire body and lets them know there’s nothing shameful or mysterious about them.
I love these tips! Thanks for sharing!
My daughter is young (and therefore fast and a little spazzy) and she knows if we are ever separated by elevator doors (one on, one off) she is to STAY PUT. Mommy will come to her, don’t go anywhere.
Never happened but I taught this because I’ve had to make some fast grabs!
That is a really awesome tip! Thanks for sharing, Mary Ann!
Great reminder for parents. On a field trip to the firestation when my daughter was younger, a fireman in full gear came out to show the kids and my daughter was terrified. When I told her he dressed like that to save people from fire she said she didn’t want to be saved. Very eye opening.
I would add “Never Ever Swim Alone” which means without an adult.
These are really useful skills for my kids
Teaching children how to be safe around fire and firearms is so important these days. Thanks for sharing this post!