The more I browse social media or watch the news, the more stories I see about attempted abductions of children, juvenile suicides resulting from persistent bullying, and arrests of adults who have allegedly sexually abused children. All of this can make a parent question how to keep their children safe in a world of relentless and potential harm. What would you say if I told you that you aren’t alone in that duty and there are people who can help you? You would probably ask for their contact info. But you don’t have to look very far. Who are these people? Your children.
As a parent myself, I know it’s tough to determine with which type of information or knowledge we should arm our children when it comes to their personal safety. Parents have an innate desire to make their children’s lives happy, creative, loving, and free from injury of any kind. It’s understandable that we don’t want to worry them with the scary things we see in the news or social media, therefore many parents simply choose not to. I’ll let you in on a secret. No matter how we attempt to shield our children from bad things that happen in this world, it doesn’t always work. Kids are very intuitive and aware. They already know about the scary things, whether you think they do or not. So how does this play into keeping them safe? Permission.
Give yourself permission to talk to your children about things they need to be aware of. Believe it or not, they have probably been waiting for you to talk about it with them. What better person to answer their questions than the person who loves and protects them the most? Assure them that you will always be diligent in protecting them, but they can help too. Encourage them to come to you with any concerns they may have about their or anyone else’s safety. Assure them that you will always be open-minded, honest, and will always have their back. Allowing open dialogue about things that concern your child can help build trust which may lead to the likelihood of them coming to you when they truly need help handling difficult situations at school, with peers, or even with other adults. But don’t stop there.
Also give your child permission to keep themselves safe. Many times, I will ask new students in my classes, “Who is in charge of your safety?” The majority answer, “My mom and dad.” When I look around and remind them that mom and dad aren’t with them, I ask again, “Since mom and dad aren’t here, who is in charge of your safety?” This perplexes them. I then let them in on my angle and say, “YOU are in charge of your safety!” This is usually the first time they’ve ever been told that they have the right to keep themselves safe, and it can be eye-opening for them. The first step in creating a safety plan for your child is telling them that they are in charge of their safety when you are not with them, they have the right to keep themselves safe, and more importantly, they have your PERMISSION to do so. Giving your child your blessing to do what it takes to keep themselves safe brings a new level of personal safety for them, and empowerment can begin to bloom.
Empowerment can lead to many great things in a person’s life. Learning to embrace empowerment as a child within a context connected to personal safety can be life-saving. No one has the right to hurt your child. No little kid, no big kid, no teenager, no grown up, and no older person. No one. Give them the permission to stop anyone who tries. Empower them with permission.