By Kim Estes
The Holidays are here. OK, I said it. Hard to believe but true! The holiday season is often hectic and can be incredibly stressful to many parents. This year, global changes and uncertainty are also factoring into our holiday mood. There are so many things going on around us and often personal safety gets overlooked during this hectic time. However, now is the best time to brush up on safety with your family. There will be lots of interaction with family and friends and new experiences and new places. Now is a great time to practice “what if” scenarios with your kids. Believe it or not, taking time to talk safety with your kids will take some of the anxiety out of your holiday season and theirs.
Here are some great tips on how to stay safe during the holidays.
Safety while shopping:
• Have a designated spot (like a sales counter) to meet at if you get separated.
• Make sure younger kids practice their name, your name and cell phone number
• Remind kids never to leave the store, no matter what!
• Practice identifying “safe grown ups” while you are out and about
• Older kids should always take a friend when going to the mall without and adult
• Remind kids to always check first with you before going anywhere or accepting gifts
• Never leave children unattended in stores, arcades, or playgrounds
Safety at holiday parties:
• Let your child chose who they wish to show affection to. Do not force them to kiss or hug someone. Even if it means hurting Grandma or Uncle Joes feelings. Your child needs to know they have power over their own bodies.
• Check in on your kids when you are at a large gathering or function. Make sure they are doing OK.
• Kids need to check first with a parent before going off with someone at the party (eg. To play video games or watch a movie in the bedroom or leaving the house to go play in the front yard)
• Have each adult at the party take 20 minute “shifts” to cruise around and check on the kids to make sure they are all doing OK.
• If someone is making your child uncomfortable (excessive tickling, hugging, wrestling) intervene on your child’s behalf to end the behavior. You child needs to know they have your support and that you are there to protect them, no matter what.
Most of all have a safe and wonderful holiday season!
About the Author: Kim Estes is the owner of Savvy Parents Safe Kids and has worked with parents for over 15 years, educating them on various parenting topics. Kim is a certified prevention educator through the National Security Alliance, the Kid Safe Network and is a Darkness 2 Light facilitator. As a Child Safety Expert, Kim has appeared on local and national TV and Radio shows, helping to raise awareness on the importance of prevention education. For more information about her work or to schedule a workshops go to: www.savvyparentsafekids