Monday, May 19, 2014

Identifying safe adults for your child

The topic of stranger danger is not a foreign concept but, has been modified lately to teach children about tricky or untrustworthy people.  It is rather difficult to each children who to trust and who to stay away from, although I have seen time and time again where a child's instincts are even better than an adult's.  If your child is uneasy or nervous around another person, I would encourage you to respect those reactions and allow your child to have the space he needs to feel safe {even if it is a family member or friend}. It can be difficult to understand, but should be supported in order to maintain those keen instincts.

A helpful tool to identify safe adults is this worksheet that can be found here.

It could also be used as a therapeutic tool to identify adults that may be untrustworthy or 'tricky'.

Some signs your child may not feel safe around a particular person include:

-Becoming unusually shy

-Showing strong emotions of fear, sadness, or aggression

-Exhibiting behaviors that are uncharacteristic including regression of any sort, refusing to show affection, or acting out in anger

The same difficulty can come when attempting to teach your child whose rules must be followed, especially a toddler.  Certainly children must learn to listen to their parent or caregiver and rules are placed to maintain safety, but it is also important to identify other adults who have the similar authority if they exist.

I recently spent the weekend with my nephew and learned how important this concept truly is.  While playing outside, my nephew was driving around his police car and did not listen to me when I told him to stop for an oncoming car.  Thankfully my parents live in a quiet neighborhood with little traffic so there was no imminent danger, but an important lesson was presented to be learned.  I took him inside to allow his mom to handle the situation however she felt fit.  I was surprised and intrigued when she told my nephew that I was an adult that needed to be listened to like his mom and dad.  She identified me as a safe person who must be respected and obeyed.

My family is large and we spend a lot of time together so we end up co-parenting a little which works for us and is something I am thankful for and appreciate.  I understand this is not appropriate for every family, but it works for us.  Being able to teach children whose rules to follow can prove to be an important life lesson.  We must listen to parents, teachers, police officers, etc.  But it is ok, and should be encouraged, for children to check with their parents before listening to the rules of every adult. 

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