By Wyatt Welch
Winter is Coming—Are Your Kids Prepared?
To me, winter is the best time of the year! Quality time with loved ones, cozying up next to the fire and drinking plenty of hot chocolate. Though Winter brings these fun opportunities, it also presents some dangers to our children. Let’s prepare for winter together by following these safety tips.
First, let’s talk about body safety. Ask your children the question “Who owns your body?” I wish I was asked when I was younger. Let children know that their body belongs to them. Not our friends, teachers, siblings, parents, or anyone else. Your body is the greatest gift you’ll ever receive. Tell your children that they should listen to their body. If someone ever does something that makes them feel uncomfortable they should come and talk to you. For example: During the holidays, family members may want to hug your child. Your child should be able to determine for themselves if they want a hug or not. When I was a child, I hated being told that I HAD to give a distant relative a hug. I always felt uncomfortable. If I said I didn’t want to, I was told I wasn’t being “nice” or “kind.” I didn’t feel happy or safe, but I was told it was the right thing to do.
This season, teach your kids that it’s okay to respectfully say no.
“No thank you.”
“I don’t feel like a hug right now.”
“ How about a fist bump instead?”
These simple phrases teach our children that it’s okay to respectfully say no.
Give the Gift of Believing
Next, 9 out of 10 times a child is abused by someone they know. That can make it scary for them to come forward and disclose the abuse. If the person is almost always someone the child knows, that means that it’s highly likely that it’s someone you know as well. If a child is hesitant around someone or makes comments about how they don’t feel safe, LISTEN. Give them your full attention and let them know that they have a safe space where they can talk. Ask open-ended questions about why they may feel a certain way towards someone. It’s important to validate a child’s feelings and make sure that they feel heard. Help them understand what they are feeling. Take what your child says seriously and do what you need to do to keep them safe. If needed, report abuse by calling the child abuse hotline at 1 (855) 323-3237.
Online for the Holidays
As children are home for winter and indoors due to the cold, remind them of internet safety. Talk about what’s appropriate online, and how they should behave. Let kids know that if you wouldn’t say it in person, you shouldn’t say it online. When they see things that may be inappropriate or hurtful, teach them to come and talk to you about it. Together you can block and report the behavior.
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
Finally, If you’re roasting chestnuts over an open fire, let’s be safe about it! We want to keep open flames out of reach from children. Check areas around fireplaces or space heaters to make sure nothing flammable is around. Set reminders to unplug appliances that aren’t in use to prevent burns or sparks and double-check the smoke alarms. Create a family safety plan for a fire. Where would you meet? How should they get out of the house? These are important questions that have the potential to save a life. Lastly, talk to kids about how to call for help if they may need to. Make a memorization game out of learning the home address. Tell your child what to say when asking for help so that they can be safe.
These are just a few simple ways to look out for our loved ones, not just during the holiday season, but year-round! If you want to learn more about keeping your child safe, follow us on Instagram and TikTok. Happy Holidays!