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How to talk to your kids about safety

Teaching your child or young person information about safety can be very tricky and confronting for most parents as they often worry about making the world a scary place for their child or feeling they are making them grow up too fast knowing to much information. However preparing you child for potentially uncomfortable, challenging and dangerous situations is necessary and provides your child with important life skills to help them grow up strong. The younger we start using the language of safety and utilising day to day life events as learning opportunities to practice these skills in safety the more confident, resilient and able our child/young people will be to recognise, resist and problem solve their way through life.

The following are just some ideas that you could use to talk more with you child about their own safety. Just remember that you are your child’s best role model and it is important that they see you practicing the skills everyday.

  • Remind them that ‘We all have the right to feel safe at all times’. This is theme 1 from the Protective Behaviours programme. Explain the theme to your children, explain what safe is, what it feels like, what it feels like not to feel safe, and remind them of their responsibility not to make others feel unsafe.
  • It is important for our children to learn how to express how they are feeling and how to cope with their big emotions.
  • We can support them by introducing I feel when statements, for example ‘I feel angry when I have an argument with my brother because he yelled and hit me’. Look out for indications that your child needs help to deal with his anger as you may need to step in and show them how to calm themselves down.
  • Teaching your children about the body’s early warning signs for safety is also important. These are all those funny feelings we get in our body in response to feeling unsafe, challenged or excited. For some we know them as our natural fight flight or freeze responses. Everyone is an individual and so will have a range a different signs that happen for them from butterflies in their tummies, hearts beating fast, to clenching their fists or curling their toes. Try exploring you child’s signs by playing some fun games like blowing up and bursting a balloon, climbing to the top of a high piece of play equipment, playing with slime or a jack in the box and then talking about each other’s ‘funny feelings’ together.
  • Make time each day to talk with you child about their day and how they are feeling. This will encourage children to share with you all the good times and all the difficulties that they face. Instilling in them that ‘We can talk with someone about anything no matter what it is’.
  • Talk to your child about a network of adults who they trust, who are supportive, that can help if they have a problem, feel unsafe or are struggling with managing big emotions. This should include a range of adults for all aspects of their life including, family members, teachers, and community members (eg coach, scout leader).
  • For all of us to feel safe in our world, ensuring that we feel calm, protected and cared for, we need a level of choice and control with an understanding of timeframes for any situation that we face.
  • Persistence is one of the most important ideas we can teach our children. To keep on telling and talking even if we do not get the support we need the first time.  Making sure they do not give up until their unsafe feelings and early warning signs in their bodies go away will ensure that they will feel heard and protected.

For more information in regards to the Protective Behaviours programme or speaking to your child about any of the topics covered here you can follow the link through Help Me to Protective Behaviours WA, or jump onto one of our live chats.

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