My son and I recently moved into our own house. Imagine my horror when, on our first night there, someone broke in! I always bring my cell phone with me to bed, so I called SDPD, and they were there in record time.
Upon further inspection, I discovered that nothing was missing, and the police surmised that whoever broke in may have thought the house was still empty, and left upon discovering that it was not.
I couldn’t sleep at all that night, preferring to stand guard over my son. The house had an alarm system—this was one of its appeals when I decided to buy—but I could not figure out how to engage the alarm, nor did the emergency button seem to work. First thing the following morning, I called ADT Security and fixed that right away. I now have an alarm with all the bells and whistles (pun intended).
This whole incident got me thinking about the reality of keeping my son safe. I’m a single mom, so he’s just got me looking out for him. I try not to worry about anything that isn’t immediately life-threatening, but this showed me that, while that attitude may still work in many instances, there are inevitably times when it is important to be as cautious as I can.
In the Home
Living in a home is different than living in an apartment, in that you don’t have your nosy downstairs neighbor keeping an eye on everything and everybody that goes by her window. For this reason, the first thing you should consider is the overall safety of your home. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having an alarm that works. Additionally, be sure your home is in overall good repair. Many think they can skimp on this, or buy inexpensive substitutes, but the fact is that there is no substitute for the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your home is protected. As a note: you should probably draw the line at putting up an invisible fence and making them wear a collar; this may come across as a tad overprotective, and may land you a night or two in the pokey.
In Your Car
In addition to staying on top of your car’s maintenance at all times in order to ensure that it is a safe auto for your child to travel in, you should also be aware of the carseat guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Due to continuing spine development, and appropriate protection of your child’s head, neck, back and spine in the event of an accident, the AAP now requires that children sit in rear-facing carseats until the age of 2 (rather than the previously-required age of 12 months). Many parents feel that this falls into the “overprotected” category, but considering the delicacy of a child’s spinal cord, and the potential for brain damage, the AAP presents a compelling argument. It’s only for one extra year!
In Their Private Lives
It’s essential to teach your child how to be safe when you’re not around. This can be done by modeling safe behavior to them, and by teaching them practical rules for interacting with others: don’t talk to strangers, say please and thanks, don’t involve yourself in others’ business, etc. These rules keep your child safe and out of trouble once they are old enough to stray from your yard. Some parents feel that this is also the time to enroll their children in martial arts classes (or some other form of fighting), in order to teach them how to defend themselves.
On the Internet
By taking Internet safety seriously, you can ensure that your child will do the same, and their lives will be safer for it. Internet rules are very simple: don’t talk to strangers, keep your private business that way, and “if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is” are all things to remember when interacting with others on the Internet. Place your computer in a common area of the house, and don’t be afraid to ask what they’re up to. One important thing to note: bullying doesn’t only happen at school anymore. More and more children are tormented and harassed via the Internet. By being aware of what your child is doing on the Internet, you lessen their chances of being harassed in this manner.
The thing to remember when keeping your children safe is that you are not doing it to shelter them, or to somehow stunt their personal development. This should never involve trailing your child day and night to ensure their safety, or having them wear protective helmets and kneepads anytime they go out on their own—this would almost certainly cause lasting damage to any child. However, a certain amount of caution can actually be a good thing. Children who are raised in a safe, loving environment are far more likely to be confident and happy, because they know that their parents love them enough to keep them safe.