5 tips to keep your children safe this holiday season!

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A few safety tips for you this holiday season:

 

Along with the wonder and excitement of the upcoming holidays, comes some increased stress and worry.To alleviate some of the stress caused by traveling with the kids and/or having family and friends in from out of town – KidSafe suggests you think about implementing a few simple safety guidelines within your family to avoid some vacation pitfalls. Sit down as a family before your trip or before relatives and friends come into town and have a conversation involving the following:

1. Creepy Relatives

Be aware of relatives that make you or your child uncomfortable: Often parents have expressed to us that they are heading to visit family for the holidays and they have a concern about their child’s safety around a certain adult. They can’t quite put their finger on it, nothing concrete has occurred, but a certain relative makes them uncomfortable and they don’t want their children alone with this adult. How do you handle this without insulting the relative or creating a riff in the family? First and foremost, always and we mean ALWAYS pay attention to your intuition!! You are the first line of defense in the safety of your child. Always err on the side of protecting your child. If that means you are watching your child perhaps more vigilantly than usual, explain to your child that as nice and fun as this particular relative or any other relative may be, you must “Check First” before going anywhere with him or her.

So what should you do in the unfortunate event that you have someone in your family that you know is definitely unsafe? Obviously you would prefer your children to never be around this type of person, but sometimes the holidays necessitate proximity. For older children, explain that this particular relative or friend of the family is someone you do not trust and you do not want them to be alone with them at any point during this visit. For younger children your eyes need to be on them. Trusting your intuition means that you keep a watchful eye on your children or perhaps not attend the event. And of course, if you are a witness to any type of abuse, or a child reports it to you – take it seriously and don’t hesistate to tell the proper authorities.

2. Hugs and Kisses

What if your child does not want to hug or kiss a relative or friend? Please do not force your child. When we force children to hug and kiss or touch an adult that they don’t want to, we are sending them a very clear message that the wants and needs of the adult are more important than your child’s. Empower your children that their bodies belong to them, and although they should be polite, they do not have to hug/kiss/touch anyone if they don’t want to. Our children’s book – My Body is Special and Belongs To ME! (a 2011 Literary Classics Award Winner) – educates children and parents about this concept, and teaches children that they have rights over their bodies.

Children are more vulnerable when they are alone. We want to stress the importance of children using the Buddy System when out and about. Even though you may think you already do this, take the time to have a direct conversation about what the Buddy System means. Kids often need concrete examples to understand our expectations.

3. Communication

Communication between the adults should be very clear about who is watching the child. We cannot tell you how many times a child goes missing at a theme park or public place, and one spouse turns to the other and says in a panic, “I thought you had your eye on her.”

 

4.  Public Restrooms

Set guidelines before any trip that children of all ages will use the public restrooms only when accompanied by an adult. Please take this precaution especially at highway rest stops and large venues. This of course applies to young children but it also can apply to your 10-year-old son entering the woman’s room with you and vice-versa with a dad traveling alone with his daughter. Have these conversations before the trip so your children understand the expectations and will not be resistant once you are at the crowded bathrooms.

5. Getting Lost

Introduce the concept of “Check First.” Say to your children, “We are going to be visiting with family, going sightseeing, etc and I don’t want to lose any of you.” (Humor works great when talking about personal safety). “With that said, kids you might see something that catches your eye while we are walking in the city, for example. Do not stop to look, and do not go in a different direction without Checking First. That means you walk right up to me (or other designated trusted adult) and tell us what you want to do. We will then say yes or no. This will help us avoid getting separated. Also, when we are at the hotel and you want to go visit your cousins in their room, etc – you don’t go anywhere without Checking First with us.”

Tell your child that if by chance they do get lost, the safest person to seek help from is another mom with children. Then, explain to kids step by step what they should do. “If you can’t find us, stay exactly where you are and look for a mom with kids and say ‘I am lost, can you please help me?’” Make sure your children know all of the appropriate cell phone numbers. For young children and children with special needs, place a laminated ID card (make it yourself) with their information on it as well as two cell phone numbers where you can be reached and stick it in the bottom of their shoe. Tell your children that if they get separated from you, they should never ever leave the place they’re at, no matter what anyone says.

One final guideline that is good to implement during vacation, and quite frankly, all the time, is that when having visitors or visiting elsewhere – when playing in a room all doors stay open and no playing in the parent’s bedroom. This always helps kids and adults make better decisions.

We hope you have a Happy Holiday, Great New Year and wishing all your children stay KIDSAFE!!

 

Testimonials

"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be included in the KidSafe program. I highly recommend this program to other schools. We hope that we will be given the same opportunity for our Kindergarten and 2nd grade students to be a part of this wonderful program during the 2016-2017 school year."

Mrs. Keelyn Meselsohn 2nd Grade Teacher/Team Leader Tradewinds Elementary School

"The Safe and Smart Series Book My Body Is Special and Belongs To Me is kept in my middle school clinic and has been a tool that has opened many conversations for me between students that have experienced a difficult situation and were unable to talk about it. Through the illustrations and nonjudgmental verbiage the author has allowed kids permission to share their feelings about invasion of their personal space. Thank you so much."

Nurse Connie, PBC School Nurse 6.8.2016

"I'm so grateful that KidSafe has partnered with my daughter's school.  I learned so much in the parent training--how to recognize potential sexual predator behavior; how to quiz my child about what they would do in different scenarios; and how to explain safe and unsafe touch.  In addition, knowing that my daughter is receiving weekly trainings on these topics gives me great peace of mind.  I have confidence that I can reinforce what she is learning in school in order to prevent her from ever being a victim of such a heinous crime.  Thank you KidSafe for your dedication to protecting our communities' most vulnerable citizens."

Christina Kranick

“It was a normal Saturday and I was at the rink with my 7 and 8 year old. My son asked me if he could use the Men’s Restroom by himself.  Without hesitation, my daughter said,  Absolutely not! I was in KidSafe today and you cannot go to the restroom alone.  It is very important that Mommy is with you.. with us.   I was so proud of my little girl!  We are so blessed to have Debbie Miller at our school teaching our children the importance of safety. Many thanks to you all!  Your program and instruction is absolutely amazing.  Keep up the great work!"  

Tara Henley Admissions Assistant, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School, Ft. Lauderdale

I am a parent of two Pine Crest children and I attended your program on Monday night. I just wanted to thank you so very much for the very informative seminar. As hard as it was to hear all of those things, it was very needed. We were thrilled that you were able to come and share that very important information with us and our children. So again...thank you.

Elisa Aronberg

Today’s training was awesome! It was very informative. Sally was a very good resource, she motivated us a lot! We want to pass on this information to parents, teachers and students! Thank you for offering workshops like this. These are tools we use to continue serving our children and families.

Participant from Children’s Services Council of Broward Seminar

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