Published On: Sun, Sep 9th, 2012

Keep Safe Tools For Kids

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

We all want tKeep Safe Tools To Teach Your Kidso keep our kids safe. The difficulty here is that in most cases, we cannot be with our children 24 hours a day. We need to also teach them how to help keep themselves safe. Karen Craigie from Child Abuse Prevention Australia, gives us some great tips on what to teach our kids about keeping safe. Danielle Mantakoul from Early Childhood Professionals suggests a few strategies on how to do this with an early years focus.

*  Talk to your children honestly and openly about the importance of being safe.

Danielle’s Tip:  We can sometimes assume that our kids know what it is to be safe because we have told them before, or would know what to do if confronted with a safety situation, again because we have told them before. The problem is that kids forget!  The importance of being safe needs to be a regular chat, not just the one off talk.

Make sure you know where your children are at all times.

Danielle’s Tip:  There is nothing more to say here other than, all times and with whom they are with. Consider though, that many abused children, actually knew the person already, that did them harm. Know the high risk situations such as neighbours homes.

*  Let your children know that they can always talk to you about anything.

Danielle’s Tip:  We tend to let our kids know this after something has occurred. Remind your kids even when nothing is going on. Be an approachable parent. Parents who tend to over react to situations like spilt milk can create a sense of fear in the child to tell you things.

Teach your children about their bodies, and the correct names for their body parts.

Danielle’s Tip:  Providing children with the correct body parts helps to ensure that they would be understood if they tried to explain something to a trusted adult. Treat penis and vagina as educational words, rather than words to be avoided at all cost.

*  Teach your children what ‘safe’ and ‘un-safe’ means. Discuss with them the different ways that our bodies tell us we’re un-safe (butterflies in tummy, sweaty palms, racing heart, feeling scared) and teach your children to trust their feelings.

Danielle’s Tip:  Books are wonderful teaching tools. Any children’s book that talks about feelings helps children to identify what they are feeling. Encourage your child to talk about their feelings, and let them hear you talk about yours.

Let your children know that it’s OK for them to say no – even to an adult.

Danielle’s Tip:  Tricky hey. But we need to teach kids that sometimes adults do get it wrong and can do things that are not right. It’s okay to say no, especially if they are feeling those butterflies in tummy, sweaty palms, racing heart or feeling scared.

*  Explain the difference between ‘good’ touching (like tickling or hugging), and ‘bad’ touching (like touching of private parts, touching when or where someone doesn’t want to be touched).

Danielle’s Tip:  Sometimes my kids would play by rolling around the floor with each other. At times one of the kids would end up touching a private part resulting in one of them complaining. It would be very tempting to say “oh it was an accident” and simply brush it off, but what message is this sending? I needed to stop the play, reminding the kids it’s not okay to touch someone else’s private parts. If we don’t show our kids this is serious, then they of course are led to believe maybe it’s not such a big deal. Firm reminders are needed here, then back to the game.

*  Explain the difference between ‘good’ secrets (like surprise birthday parties) and ‘bad’ secrets (like someone hurting a child and then telling them not to tell anyone). Let them know that they never have to keep a secret that they know is wrong, or that makes them feel scared.

Danielle’s Tip:  To ensure your kids have understood, throw a few scenarios at them to see if they can identify the good or bad secret.

*  Create a safety circle for your children by helping them identify a few trusted adults (like a parent, teacher, or neighbour) that they can always talk to if they need help. Tell your children that if they are ever in trouble, or if someone ever hurts them in any way, they should always tell the adults in their safety circle and keep telling until something is done about it.

Danielle’s Tip:   Your kids should assist in the creation of this list. For children interested in print, write down this list of people with them and stick it up somewhere in their room. On the odd occasion, ask them who these people are as a reminder.

Make sure your children know that they can call 000 in emergencies.

Danielle’s Tip:  When I was a kid you simply picked up the home phone, but now mobiles are also in the picture. Some homes no longer have landline phones, with the family solely relying on mobiles. This makes for a whole new lesson on how to dial 000 due to mobiles locked, passwords, call buttons etc.

*  Give your children scenarios and strategies. For example – If you are walking to school one day & someone is following you, run as fast as you can into a shop or where there are people & ask for help.

Danielle’s Tip:  Kids are very visual creatures. You give them the best chance to remember what you’re trying to teach if you role play it. Sometimes my kids would play on the front grass area. I would tell them if a car pulled up to come inside instantly. So now and then I would stick my head out and say “car pulled up”, to get them to role play the scenario.

*  If someone tries to touch your private parts, look them in the eye and say NO very loudly, keep saying NO and then run away from them and tell an adult in your safety circle.

Danielle’s Tip: Kids can worry that they will get into trouble if they say no, or have to kick, bite, push or pull to get away from danger. We can tell kids it’s okay to do these things if someone is holding them and they don’t feel safe. Tell kids if they get it wrong, it’s okay and it can be fixed later.

*  Adequately supervise your children in public areas and accompany them into public bathrooms, on public transport and in other public places.

Danielle’s Tip:  Most of us fully understand how important supervision in public places is, but many a highly conscious parent have found themselves scouring the isle for the wandering child at the shops. Does your child know what to do if in this situation? If not, talk about it when next on the way to the shopping centre.

*  Teach your children about staying safe online and using technology safely.

Danielle’s Tip:  Be selective with material you choose by only using trusted sources of children’s online entertainment. ABC iView for example has a great kids section. If you can’t closely supervise online entertainment, don’t allow access.

National Telephone Support Line AUS 1800 688 009

Written by Karen Craigie from Child Abuse Prevention Australia
Additions By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2012
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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