Safety 101: Protecting Your Child
When I was a young parent, it seemed like every day I heard stories that
scared me. Don't let the lid on your toilet up, a toddler might drown!
Don't let your child play with a balloon, especially after it has popped
or been deflated. They might choke on a piece. Don't let them stand up in
a shopping cart, they might fall out and hit their head. I began to
despair: How will they ever survive? Can't they have any fun?
Then there were all the viruses and sniffles to worry about: if their
fever spikes, is it meningitis? Does too many bruises mean leukemia? How
can we adequately childproof our home-and Grandma's, and the babysitters,
and on and on?
The responsibility for your child's health and well-being is an awesome
and terrifying responsibility. You love your child so much it hurts-and
you know how much it would pain you to have anything happen to him or
her. But yet, how can you take reasonable precautions without ruining
your child's life?
Today there is plenty to worry about: various kinds of warfare,
kidnapping, murder, molestation to name a few of the worst. But parents
have to use common sense in protecting their children, and teaching them
some basic self-protection rules can go a long way in helping them
survive the pitfalls and dangers inherent in growing up.
There are several ways to teach basic safety rules. We enjoyed using a
cassette tape (today you'd probably use video or DVD) which made safety
rules memorable and fun. Having fun with it takes away some of the
scariness. For instance, our daughters easily memorized their phone
number by using the sing-along song on the tape and inserting their own
number at the correct place. They learned that if they got lost in a
crowd, they should look for "a mother or grandmother with children" to
ask for help. As they got older we carefully used a secret password if I
left them at the library, to do some shopping, or if separated for other
reasons. I told them they shouldn't go with anyone even if that person
said "Mom" had told them it was okay, unless the person knew the
password. The children learned from their audiotape of songs and stories
that if anyone grabbed them in a store, it was okay to scream loudly,
"This isn't my mother" or "father." And that they should tell an adult
they love and trust if anyone touches them in a place covered by their
underwear, and so on. It is amazing to me how these memorable lines come
back to me from the tapes even now as I write, and I know they do for my
kids, too. You can help kids practicing dialing 911 for help and teach
them that they should never dial it unless it is really an emergency.
Today our safety concerns extend to the Internet, and making wise rules
so kids are safe there, too. Use an Internet Service Provider that allows
you to block your children's access to certain services, and keep the
computer in a central place where you can see what is going on. If they
are old enough to use the Internet they should know and abide by rules
like never going to meet anyone they have met only through the Internet.
After you have read everything you can read on child safety and helped
them understand the things they need to know, then relax and trust God,
knowing that you have prepared them well. You will continue to look out
for them as much as possible, but everyone has moments when they weren't
as careful as they should be and children get hurt. Things happen. We can
prepare, hope and pray-and then there comes a time when you have to let
them venture out from your protective watch.
[ Melodie Davis (Melodie@mennomedia.org) -- from 'Sermon_Fodder' ]
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