Growing up, life felt good and safe. I had freedom to explore my backyard and hung out with friends without adult supervision. The internet was around, but it wasn’t the central focus of society. My parents could easily control what I could and couldn’t see and protected me from the broken world a lot easier than parents can today. For that, I am grateful! I was able to maintain innocence for a long time.
But the world has changed. Supervision is necessary and protection from worldly dangers is difficult. When I was young, a story about a child abduction was rare, and now with 24-hour news stories and connections to every part of the world, we are bombarded by every terrible headline involving children — each confirming our biggest fears.
So how do we help maintain our children’s innocence while also equipping them with the knowledge they need to stay out of danger? Safety is important to teach so that our children are less likely to find themselves in situations that compromise their boundaries or reveal too much that their developing minds can’t emotionally understand. As parents, we worry enough and don’t want to make our children carry the same burden. There are ways to explain safety to children in a way that doesn’t encourage fear.
Here are some ways we can teach our children about worldly dangers without stealing their innocence:
1. Use age-appropriate language.
A friend of mine, who has been a longtime foster parent, said she quickly learned what was an age-appropriate way to tell her children about their birth parents. For example, she wouldn’t tell her very young children that their birth parents were addicted to drugs, she instead would say the parents made poor choices so their environment wasn’t safe. As the children grew, my friend would explain their situations in more detail, but the point was for them to understand the “why” more than it was to hear the details.
2. Encourage boundaries.
Our children need to know that their bodies belong to them and they have the power to say “no.” Teaching healthy boundaries is essential. There may be times when they find themselves in an environment where they are uncomfortable, and children need to know that they have the power to control what happens in that environment by saying “no!”
3. Teach your kids to trust their inner feelings.
Encouraging a child’s intuition is important. They are able to sense negative energy. Teach them to ask themselves: “Does this feel right?’ and then to respond appropriately. Not everyone out there has good intentions, and we need to teach our children to trust their inner knowing.
4. Equip yourself with resources.
Below are some great books to have on hand that present dangers in a way that does not evoke fear and simply gives children the knowledge they need to effectively keep themselves out of danger.
For The Kids:
Never Talk To Strangers
Super Duper Safety School: Safety Rules For Kids & Grown-Ups!
NO Trespassing – This Is MY Body!
No Means No!
For The Parents:
Safe Kids, Smart Parents: What Parents Need to Know to Keep Their Children Safe
How do you teach safety in your home without compromising your children’s innocence?