It’s one thing to keep your children safe when they’re always with you and you can physically contain them. It’s a bigger, scarier task to keep them safe once they’re out of your physical grasp every minute.
Some of this is universal: teaching your children their address, teaching your children your phone number. One of my friends — an opera singer — made up a song with her phone number that she taught her sons when they were teeny. I taught my kids my phone number in a kind of sing-songy rhyme. And we all teach our children that if they get lost, they should find a mom WITH CHILDREN and ask her for help.
Other safety measures are more location-specific. How many of you worked on teaching your children where they were in your neighborhood? City parents come up with a plan in case someone gets separated on public transportation. (The fear of ending up on the wrong side of a closed subway door from my child used to haunt me.) Suburban parents talk about how to get home from the playground.
All these are vital, but the most important thing we can do to keep our kids safe is to listen to them and take them seriously. Encourage our children to talk to us and tell us what they think and what they experience. Trust what they say, and let them know they can tell us anything. Protecting our children means teaching them to protect themselves. That their bodies are their own, and that they have parents who will keep them safe.
How do you talk to your children about staying safe?
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