Summer is a time for families to enjoy spending time with each other and relax. Taking a little time to develop some family rules will ensure that you and your children have fun and stay safe this summer. Here are some guidelines and ideas that you can follow.
When attending events with small children and/or multiple children, remember that safety is the number one priority. While we all want our children to have fun, if they cannot have fun safely it is not worth the risk. It is important to plan ahead and make sure that there are enough parents actively paying attention to children at all times. As we all know, children get very excited and have a lot of energy and strength. It only takes a second for a child to be put at risk unintentionally.
What to Teach Them
Safety Skills. It is important to teach safety skills to children of all ages to use in public places. Make a fun game out of some safety skills to help keep their attention such as the Red-Light-Green-Light Game and Stop, Look, and Listen. If you are in public it is a way to get their attention quickly. Asking your child to put their hand on your car in a specific spot, or on your pocket can help keep them in place when you are unloading another child or items.
Stay with Parents. Most children love to run. For younger children it is good to hold their hand, put them in a stroller or wagon, or you could use the always controversial child safety harness. One thing to remember when they are in a stroller is that they more than likely will not stay there. If you are at the zoo or an exhibit of some type, you will need to have the capacity to take them in and out of the stroller to see things while you are also watching other kids.
Stay Away from Strangers. Teaching them the proper reactions if someone they do not know shows a special interest or tries to take them somewhere can help you and others to react quickly and appropriately to what is happening. And let’s be honest, we all would rather a child overreact than underreact in a situation like that.
The “Safe” People to Ask for help. Teaching them that police officers, lifeguards, and maybe other mothers with children are safe people to ask for help is always a good idea. Also identifying a meeting spot for older children if you do lose each other can be helpful. Keeping proper identification on your children is also important. There are a lot of different ways to do this ranging from writing their information on a piece of paper and putting it in their pocket to having an ID bracelet. Teach them your phone number so they can contact you.
Treat Other Children with Respect. Helping children to understand that it is not okay to put another child at risk and to let a parent know if another child is hurting them can help parents to stop a bad situation before it gets worse.
Rules for YOU!
Pay Attention/Stay Alert
Parents and caregivers need to pay attention just like we ask our children to pay attention. If something seems suspicious, remove yourself from the situation, and let the appropriate people know about it. If there are too many people at an event to allow a child to be watched safely, does it make sense to stay there? No one likes to disappoint children but sometimes you need to do it to stay safe.
Avoid using alcohol and/or drugs while you have your children in your care, even if they are in bed. Anything that dulls your senses will keep you from using good judgment and can be a risk to you and your family.
Keep Your Common Sense
Just because the zoo or amusement park didn’t put up a protective barrier does not mean the situation can’t be dangerous. Look around and think about what could go wrong. Don’t dangle young children anywhere except over a mattress or the sofa.
While everyone loves having family pictures, take them safely. Sometimes taking a picture can become a distraction. In today’s digital age it is easy to focus more on taking pictures, social media, and email than just enjoying the moments with our children. Isn’t that really what they want anyway, time with family and time to play?
Team up with Others
Using the buddy system can help both parents and children. If you go to the movies, park, or zoo it is always good to have another parent or caregiver with you to help watch the kids when you need to pay attention to one child, unload the car, or use the restroom. It is also good to have children stick together if they are in a crowded environment, especially with older children who may not require a parent to watch every minute. While the vast majority of people who prey on children are not strangers, there are people on the watch for mothers who are distracted because they are loading the car or taking care of their kids.
Following these guidelines can help your family to have a fun time this summer in a safe environment.