TGIS – Thank Goodness It’s (almost) September! Parents rejoice, children groan. No matter how you feel about the end of summer va-cay, it’s definitely time to start gearing up for the start of a new school year. So, in between shopping for endless supplies (do I really need to buy more glue sticks?!) and the latest must-have fashions, take a few minutes to review some back to school safety tip as we get ready for the next 10 months of school activities, sports, after-school programs, play dates, and everything else in between.
Back to School Safety Tips for Younger Kids
Make Sure They Know Your Number
By Kindergarten, kids should know your cell phone number. You can also put an I.D. card into their backpack with pertinent contact information, and let them know exactly where it is in case they need it.
Pick Up Rules
Go over exactly who is allowed to pick them up from school, and keep the list short so it’s not confusing. Review it every day as part of your drop-off ritual, especially if there are different people picking up on different days. (ie. “Don’t forget Grandma is picking you up today.”) Create an “Ultimate Safe Grownup” list of who else is allowed to pick them up in an emergency. Limit it to 3 safe adults – i.e. grandma, Auntie Sue, one or two of their friends’ moms. Tell your children you would NEVER send someone they don’t know to pick them up. If someone else tries, they should immediately go find a teacher or another mom with kids and ask for help. Do not rely on a family password or codeword until your children are at least 8 or 9 years old. Younger children cannot be relied on to remember the password or to ask for it if someone else tries to pick them up. Be ON TIME/EARLY at pick-up time. Tell your child exactly WHERE your pick-up spot is to avoid them wandering.
Do not put your child’s name on the outside of their belongings. If you must label, use initials or put their name on the inside of the clothing, jackets, backpack, etc.
The “Touching Rule”
The “Touching Rule”: Let your child know that they are the BOSS OF THEIR BODY and that their private parts are private! Simply put… “no private parts/touching games with other kids or adults.”
By kindergarten, children should be able to use the bathroom by themselves. If they need help, be specific as to whom they can ask. Usually, it’s just the teacher or teacher’s assistant. Don’t be surprised, however, if your school has strict rules about teachers not being allowed to help in the bathroom. Many schools are now super-cautious about teachers in bathrooms, changing a child’s clothing, etc. Find out exactly what your school’s policy is.
For All Kids
Remind your child to trust his instincts: that “uh-oh” feeling. If anyone EVER makes them feel uncomfortable, they need to get away from that person and tell you as soon as possible.
No secrets from Mom or Dad… especially if it makes you feel “weird” or yucky.
Kids are allowed to say NO to anyone, even a grownup, a teacher, sports coach, etc. if they’re asked to do something that makes them feel yucky, scared, or uncomfortable. If someone says “Don’t tell…”, they MUST tell.
Remember, the world is still a safe place and most people that our children interact with are not dangerous or waiting to hurt them when we’re not looking. Teach safety skills in an easy-going, non-fearful manner, just like you’d teach any other life skills. A little common sense goes a long way.
Author Bio: Pattie Fitzgerald is a Certified Child Predator Safety Educator and founder of Safely Ever After, Inc. teaching parents and children everywhere non-fearful “safe-smarts”. For more info., please visit www.safelyeverafter.com.