Wednesday’s Parent: Safe v. Sorry

Please be safe sign. Photo by tenioman.

Funny safety sign. Photo by tenioman 

If you ever wanted to enclose your child in a protective bubble, shield him from physical harm, and block her from the stings of barbed words, you are not alone. It’s a natural instinct to want to safeguard the young.

The parental worry about safety does not dissipate with age. My mother still reminds me to drive carefully and put on a sweater–when she’s cold. I find myself saying the same things to my children. In my family, none of us are children in the sense of being little kids but we are all offspring. Parental instincts are powerful.

The auto industry may be making vehicles safer but the world is still full of old and new dangers. Moms and dads can’t wrap their kids in a protective hug at home 24/7. They must prepare their children to step outside, interact with others, and go to school.

Here are six ways parents can help their children of any age learn to protect themselves:

Transportation Parents often teach their children about the right way to cross a street, find their bus, and drive a car. The mechanics are emphasized but what about when things go wrong? The road is blocked, the bus is late or the car breaks down? Children need to have a Plan B and maybe even a Plan C.

First aid Every time a parent calmly puts a bandage on their child’s boo boo, they are demonstrating two important things: how basic first aid helps and there is no need to panic. These are useful skills whether a child is able to take care of himself or needs a school nurse. It may become critical if the child has other medical needs or there is an emergency. This is the importance of clear thinking.

Self defense Just like basic first aid, basic self-defense techniques are essential for everyone. So too, is knowing the safety resources available from a preschooler learning how to call 911 to a coed finding out about a college’s blue light emergency system. Hopefully these things will never be needed, but it is best to be prepared.

Contacts School records require emergency contact information but children need to know this, too. Having a family emergency plan is essential, especially when family members are not together and normal communication channels may be impaired. Also designate an emergency contact located out of the area. He can act as an information coordinator when family members are unable to keep in touch or arrive at a specified meeting place.

Trust It is normal to teach children respect for their elders and authority. However, children also are taught about personal boundaries and stranger danger. These lessons are just as important for a youngster heading off to nursery school as for a teenager going to college. From knowing not to take a ride from a stranger, to not leaving a beverage alone, to walking with a buddy (especially) at night, the concept of trust has to be matched with maintaining personal safety.

Common sense Take the situation where things have gone smoothly in the past. It is not unusual for adults to let their guard down and have a false sense of security. It is no surprise that less experienced young people may do the same. Public service announcements instructing individuals to stay alert, see something, and say something apply to children, too. This is where common sense and open parent-child communication can save the day.

For more important tips, read Suzanne’s Wednesday’s Parent: Safety First.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

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