(StatePoint) Being a parent can sometimes feel like your heart is walking around in someone else’s body. And while your instinct is to protect your children from any and all harm, it is also important to give them an appropriate amount of freedom to prepare them for the real world.
“Parents will always have a lot to worry about,” says Tony Pham, vice president at Life360, a company that uses technology to keep families connected everyday and during emergencies. “But having a plan can really help families be prepared for any type of safety situation.”
Parents should consider the following tips when talking to their children about safety:
Emphasize Solutions Over Danger
Constantly warning your children, whether they’re 8 or 18, about all the dangers of the world, can do more harm than good by increasing anxiety and feelings of powerlessness. Instead, focus on presenting solutions to known threats.
For example, tell children that they have every right to yell, scream and kick if a stranger grabs them. More importantly, since the majority of abductions in the United States are by people children know, teach kids to check-in with you if their instincts tell them something is wrong. For younger kids, this may mean running back to you before doing something adventurous, while for older children this may mean sending a text message before heading off with a family friend.
Get Mobile Help
Advances in mobile technology are making it easier than ever to keep children safe. For example, Life360 has created a mobile app that allows family members to request a “Check In” from another family member, along with a GPS location update. This simple technology proved useful during the tornadoes in the Midwest in early 2011, when thousands of families were able to contact their loved ones to share location and status updates even though phone calls weren’t going through.
But before it gets to that, make sure your family has a disaster plan in place. Kids and teens should know where to go in your home to stay safe during an earthquake, tornado or whatever disasters may hit your area. You should also agree on a meeting place away from your home (a neighbor or relative’s house or even a specific street corner) where you will reconnect if you were separated in an emergency.
Children need to know that strangers exist on the Internet, too. Parents should warn them about connecting with strangers or “friends” of friends on social networking sites. Children should also not disclose any personal information such as a home address, social security number or bank account without first checking with an adult.
For more information on how to keep your children safe in today’s busy world, visit www.life360.com.
Then get started on a plan that works for you and your loved ones — so you are ready when it counts.