When you have a child and that maternal instinct kicks in, you know that protecting them and keeping them happy and healthy is the most important thing for you from now on.
It’s natural to want to wrap them up in cotton wool and keep them safe, but doing so can be a total minefield.
The world we live in is completely different to the one we grew up in, and the dangers we face can be quite different.
Here are some examples.
When we were children ourselves, we were taught all about ‘stranger danger’ but it was all in the context of ‘don’t accept sweets from strangers’ and ‘never get into a car with someone you don’t know.’
While of course these are still incredibly valuable lessons today, the world is a completely different place. For the most part, as parents we’re more strict with our children when it comes to playing outside than our parents were with us as we’re more educated on the dangers.
While we might have been off all day, playing who knows where with no way to be contacted, our parents would be happy as long as we were home in time for dinner.
It’s just not the case today, it’s not that we take our children’s safety more seriously than our parents did with ours but we’re more careful as we’re more aware of what could happen.
However, one new challenge that’s been presented to our generation is the idea of stranger danger with our children- right in our own homes. By the time kids these days are just a few years old, they know how smart devices work reasonably well and can navigate around them.
Once they know how to read and write, they’re able to search the web for whatever they want, they know how to install and use apps and even understand and write some basic coding.
Many of us as parents are still stuck in the dark ages, struggling to understand what the ‘download Adobe Flash Player for Mac’ error that pops up when we try to watch videos is.
While by the time they’re in their teens, our kids will have been using technology for their entire lives and understand it better than we probably ever will.
Their knowledge of the technical side of things is likely to far surpass ours, but of course emotionally and cognitively they’re still children and still vulnerable. For this reason, we need to teach stranger danger in a completely different way.
In a world where it’s common practice to share pictures and information of yourself with the internet on social media and chat with strangers online (and everyone is doing it) we must educate them on what is and isn’t safe.
How people that seem to be nice and their friend might not be who they say they are, and meeting with anyone they don’t know under any circumstances is strictly forbidden.
There’s lots of information online to help you with this if you don’t know where to start.
In the past thirty years, car ownership has increased rapidly. Streets you used to walk down as a child that once looked peaceful and clear will now be piled up with cars at the side of the road where people fight over parking spaces.
Routes that used to take ten minutes now might take thirty where there’s so much congestion on the roads, even though many of the roads themselves have been made bigger to accommodate more traffic.
With more cars on the road (and more large, fast roads) then road safety is another huge concern when it comes to our children.
Learning to cross the road safely is something every child needs to know how to do, this includes being able to find a place to cross where visibility is good and ideally with a crossing on a busier road.
And importantly, which roads to never attempt to cross such as dual carriageways, motorways and other very fast roads. Teaching them the highway code can also be useful, let them have an understanding of how things actually work.
This includes which side of the road drivers drive on in your country, what different road signs mean, how different junctions and roundabouts work and more.
Things can be much less scary and confusing when you understand the system. Think about it, when you go on holiday and don’t understand the road system do you feel nervous and unsafe crossing?
This is how children can feel. It’s all very well grabbing your child’s hand firmly and dragging them across the road to safety when you’re with them, but what if you ever get separated?
You want to know that they have some idea of what to do to keep themselves safe.
Drugs and Alcohol
The idea of our children getting involved in drugs and alcohol is every parent’s nightmare. While this is something that every generation of parents have to face, it’s problematic in the modern world as there are more drugs out there and they’re more potent and dangerous.
We see terrifying videos on social media of people that appear zombie-like due to the effects of the drug ‘spice’, new and even more dangerous versions of heroin such as ‘black tar heroin’ and stimulants such as mephedrone (shortened to ‘mkat’) are growing in use.
The very best thing you can do when it comes to preventing drug use is to form a close bond with your child. Be the person they can come and talk to if they’re experiencing peer pressure- this means listening to them and sympathising with their stresses rather than shouting and screaming.
When you’re close to your child, you can also pick up on subtle clues when things aren’t right, and can talk things through. Educate them on the dangers, many kids get into drugs as they just don’t have a clue how damaging and potentially fatal they can be.
Having an understanding of what they do and the danger can put them in a frame of mind where they’re genuinely not curious about trying these things and don’t want to associate with people that do.
As your child gets older and becomes a teen and young adult, you never know whos path they might come across. So keeping them away from a ‘bad crowd’ isn’t enough, they need to know in their own mind that it’s dangerous and something to avoid.
Thank you for reading this post! Here are some more posts about safety: