There’s no compromising where the safety of your children is concerned. One of the hardest parts of being a parent is trying to keep your cool during those long hours when your little one is out in the world. Spend too much time watching the news and your mind can wander down all sorts of dark roads. Will she make it home from school okay? Is she still too young to be taking the bus or the train by herself? How will she react if a stranger tries to talk to her on the street? You can’t be there every second, but you can raise your kids with a worldly perspective, and the street smarts to recognize a bad situation before it gets worse. It will take consistent effort, but in the end, hopefully you’ll be able to keep calm on those inevitable occasions when your kid is five or ten minutes late. Here are five tips for raising street smart kids.
First of all, make sure your child knows all of the basics by heart. That means she should know how to spell out her full name and address, and have her number and your numbers memorized. You should also help your kid learn the neighborhood, so she can recognize streets in the area and avoid getting lost. She should know the way to school, and the best routes to anywhere else that you and the family regularly go.
When it comes to strangers, you don’t want to completely terrorize your child. You don’t want your daughter running around thinking every person they pass is a kidnapper. Instead, the goal is basic, common sense. Your child should know not to leave anywhere with someone she doesn’t know, regardless of what that person says. She should never open the door at home for someone, or tell someone on the phone that she’s alone in the house. If people ask for help or ask her to approach a car, she should know to stay away. And finally, remind her to call 911 or find a police officer if she’s ever concerned.
The supermarket or the shopping mall can often be crazed, and you won’t be able to keep both eyes glued to your child the whole time. So she should know enough not to stray out of your sight. Together you can plan a spot to meet if she gets lost, and always lay out that strategy in advance. Make sure she knows to look for someone in a uniform or an employee with a name tag on if she needs help. But at the same time, she should never leave the actual store with someone, even if that person says they are going to help her find her parents.
Regardless how street smart your child is, he or she will eventually cross paths with a bully. It’s a major problem within the school system, and adults aren’t often around the handle things. Your child should know how to diffuse the situation by walking away, or to stay with friends if she’s afraid to go places. The approach with a bully should be firm and confident, which your street smart child should be able to handle. But make sure she knows if she feels she’s in danger it is okay to give the bully what he wants.
Kids play in all sorts of weird places, many of which are far away from your close protection. But there are certain places your child should know are off limits. Anywhere that’s unpopulated or deserted after hours, such as a park, playground or abandoned building should never been a part of her plans. If she does end up in one of these places it should only be with friends. Storage lockers and stairwells should be avoided, and she shouldn’t be afraid to wait for the next elevator if someone gets on that’s making her uncomfortable. The street smart kid should learn to trust her gut, as that instinct will often save her from trouble.