As a new mom, I still can’t imagine the day when I will have to let go of my child’s hand and let him walk on his own. As much as I would want to be there to guide him every single day, I know at some point, that I will have to give him space so he can learn to be independent and confident in his own self. I’m sure all moms can relate to this fear. As much as possible, we want to protect our children at all times, but we know this cannot be the case. This is why experts say it’s very important to start talking to your children about critical safety rules (as early as two or three years old) to equip them as they go along. Aside from the basic safety rules such as do not play with fire, ask the help of an adult when dealing with sharp objects, and don’t run around a swimming pool, here are some of the more important safety rules you should teach your children about their personal space.
True enough, there are good and bad strangers, and this is something you need to explain to your children. Although there is nothing wrong with being friendly to other people, such as the girl behind the cashier in the grocery, the saleslady in the mall, or the barista in the coffee shop, it is still important for your child to understand the boundaries of strangers.
A little smile, a wave of hello, or maybe a small chat of “how are you doing today” may be harmless, but you need to let your children know that when that stranger starts asking them to go with him or gives them something such as a candy, a toy, or a chocolate bar, they shouldn’t eat it or go anywhere with that person, because they don’t really know the stranger’s agenda.
Help your kids memorize both you and your spouse’s full names, mobile numbers, home number, office number, and your full address. It will also help to let them know the routes and landmarks going to your house.
Let your children know that whether it’s his or her teacher or anyone with authority, or even a classmate, there will be no need to go with anyone to a secluded area alone. Teach your child to listen to his or her instinct as well, and when he or she feels it’s not right, it’s okay to say no.
Don’t force your children to hug or kiss anyone if they don’t feel like it. They may be small, but our children are also human beings that should be respected. If they don’t feel like kissing or hugging, it should be perfectly fine, because hugging and kissing are both signs of affection that your child should be willing to give to those he or she is comfortable giving it to. They shouldn’t feel pressured to do something they feel uncomfortable doing, not by anybody.
In addition to this, it is also important to teach your children about their control over their body, most especially the private parts of their body. They should know that no one is allowed to touch their body without their permission or to make them touch anybody else’s body parts, take pictures of their body parts, or even show them pictures of any body parts. If any of these happen, they should always let their parents or a trusted person know.
No one should make them feel the need to keep a secret from Mommy and Daddy, especially if they feel that it’s not right. Always try to keep an open line of communication with your child. Make them feel safe and comfortable in telling you everything, and always try to stay calm.
Whether asked randomly or online, let them know that they shouldn’t be sharing photos or personal information to strangers, such as where they live, their school, and numbers. Again, assure them that it’s okay to say no if they don’t feel comfortable, and that they are not obliged to share information to people they don’t know.
Given this, there is no need to scare your children, but just properly and consistently discuss consequences of certain actions, and empower them with their rights over their own personal spaces. We may not have control over the dangers of the world, but it will greatly help to equip our children with knowledge, reminders, and power over their own selves.