It is no surprise that one of the first words children say is ‘No’. As a young parent, I found navigating this difficult because they did need to eat the food, go to bed, do an activity etc. However, in reality, children at the earliest of ages must have the ability to say no and remain steadfast when it really does matter.
Parents and those working with children such as their teachers need to help children know what they should not accept and know the signs when something is dangerous.
All too often the danger signs are couched in:
- something attractive and enticing
- it looks innocent and okay
- a situation where – because we have trained our children to be polite and respectful and they don’t think it’s right to say no – they are not truly aware of the inherent danger
- relationships where emotional ties become so strong that the ‘writing is not seen on the wall’.
These days danger can also be presented online and the harm from this can be as detrimental as in person.
Daniel was 13 when he died at the hands of a stranger. We actively and rightly so train our young children about stranger danger but when our children become teenagers full of confidence and independence (again – these are important and positive traits our teenagers need to have to progress into adulthood) it’s important to maintain those conversations about:
- Knowing the signs of danger
- Preparing in advance and putting in place strategies to avoid situations where they are placed in a more vulnerable situation
- Being self-aware of how their body is responding, that gut feeling, the physical body warning signs
- Strategies – such as
- if in doubt don’t
- Never travel alone
- Physical distance
- Review the situation
- As a parent, it’s good to remember you are still the parent when your children are teenagers. I would sometimes tell my children they weren’t going to a particular place or event and that they could blame their parents for ‘being so mean’ when explaining to their friends why they weren’t allowed to go.
- Online activity can be addressed by putting wifi parental controls in place. I would encourage all parents of teenage children to purchase apps that keep your children safe. You can read more about this here.
Our teenagers are vulnerable and we owe it to them to address this in our everyday conversations. Daniel was the same age as our Middle School students, he was most likely being kind and polite as we have also taught our children/students. We need to balance this out, sadly, with awareness of dangers.
Jacq Vreeling, Head of Middle School