Child safety is a topic that can be taught to children in your daycare at an early age. Daycare providers can implement activities and lesson plans that help children learn about strangers and safe adults. We Michael Behmer, M.A., Marriage and Family Therapist, and Co-Creator of Chaos to Connection, for tips for teaching young children how to protect themselves.
OwnADaycare: What are 5 top tips for daycare owners to help children protect themselves?
Michael Behmer: Helping children protect themselves is a joint effort of adults and children. Most of the responsibility is on the adult to protect the child. In working with Feather Berkower, founder of Parenting Safe Children, my top tips for keeping children safe are:
- Parents need to be educated about the grooming process of offenders – how offenders befriend a family and seek situations where they can have secrecy with a child.
- Parents need to know how to screen caregivers and ask questions to help ensure their child’s safety.
- Children need to learn and be reminded that their body belongs the them. No one is allowed to touch their private parts except if a doctor needs to look at them and a parent is present.
- Parents and children both need to have the understanding that, “In our family, we don’t keep secrets.” In cases when children are unsafe, the perpetrator is looking to develop secrecy with a child.
- Children need to have a home and family in which they know they can tell their parents or caregivers about any worries, fears or concerns without being punished and that no matter what, their caregivers will always love them.
OwnADaycare: Can you suggest some exercises to teach stranger safety?
Michael Behmer: Following up on what I’ve said above, some exercises for parents and children include:
- Parents learning about the characteristics of perpetrators so they are educated and can protect their children. Workshops and books can help parents with this process.
- Practicing identifying strangers and friends with children
- Reminding children that their body belongs to them.
- Practicing “emotionally safe” communication with children, giving children the space to be vulnerable and talk about their worries and fears without punishment. If something should happen to that child with a stranger or adult friend who has become unsafe, the child knows he or she can talk to his or hare parent about it.
- On a trip to different stores that you visit, practice identifying employees and moms so children know who to look for if they ever get lost.
OwnADaycare: Any other tips or comments?
Michael Behmer: Thank you for the opportunity to answer your questions. I do want to stress one more time that while it’s important to teach children about strangers and what to do if they get lost, it’s also incredibly important to give children the tools and resources they need if an adult friend becomes unsafe.
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