The trouble is…well, it’s like this barrel of apples.
There’s an old saying that goes, “There’ll always be a couple of bad apples in every barrel.”
That’s the way it is with strangers. Cubs have to be careful because of a few bad apples.
“Look!” said Sister. “I found one! It’s all bumpy and has a funny shape!”
“Well, it certainly is strange looking,” said Mama.
“But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. You can’t always tell
from the outside which are the bad apples.” She cut it in half.
“See?” she said. “It’s fine inside.”
“Now here’s one that looks fine on the outside…but inside, it’s all wormy.”
-The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers by Stan & Jan Berenstain
Hot days at the pool and beach. I love summer! Days of not rushing to this activity and the next. Summer is also a time that you should be having “safety talks” with your kids. These talks should begin at an early age, changing your language according to their developmental level.
I promise, she honestly enjoys to dress up. (Well, most of the time!)
10 Summer Safety Tips to Discuss with Kids
1. With younger ages, reinforce that they should stay near you in public places. I reminded this to my son when we went into a store the other day. I told him, “Remember there might be some wormy apples in there!” (He’s listened to me read the Berenstain Bears book about strangers over and over again!)
2. Discuss WHO they can tell if a separation would occur.
3. Teach your children your cell phone number. If you have a younger child, write the number on a small sticker label. Place the sticker on the child’s shirt.
4. Take a picture of your child before you go into an amusement park. This will be helpful if your child does become separated from you. You will be in a panic state and might not be able to quickly recall your child’s hairstyle/ clothing colors. Flashback to when my daughter was 4-years-old at Great Wolf Lodge during a story time in a crowded lobby. I just blinked and she was gone. Fifteen minutes felt like an eternity. It’s shocking that the stress I experienced in that short amount of time didn’t cause my body to go into labor. I’m still surprised that other people didn’t help a pregnant woman. Just stared at me while I frantically looked for my lost child. (Who suddenly appeared in her spot again when the show began!)
5. Role play situations. Take turns playing both roles- the stranger and the child. Here is one scenario. The child is playing outside with a few friends. A kind man drives by, stopping in front of the house. He gets out of the car while waving a paper for the kids to see. The kind man yells that his little dog is lost. He asks if someone would drive around with him to find his lost puppy. (I have used this scenario with younger kids. There is usually one child who says it’s okay to help the man!)
6. Go bananas! Teach your child to “go crazy” if a person would ever try to take him/her. “Going bananas” means to kick, scream, bite, fall to the ground.
7. Swim with a friend/adult. As a child, I loved to swim. I even tried to convince my younger sister that I was a mermaid! Our family spent numerous days at my aunt’s pool. Do you remember when pools had a sudden drop to the deep end? I recall one afternoon at my aunt’s house. Family members were gathered around talking. My mom was right there watching me. I slipped down the steep slant into the deeper water. I panicked, trying to make it over to the shallow side. My aunt noticed that I wasn’t playing in the water anymore. When a child is drowning, it might look like the child is jumping in the water. To everyone watching, it looked like I was jumping and splashing around. My Aunt Ruthie saved me.
8. Always wear a helmet while riding a bike/scooter.
9. Discuss body safety rules. Remember that abusers often know their victims!
10. Be strong to stand up to peer pressure! Peer pressure can even happen with close friends. In my professional experience as a counselor, it is often the kids you would never expect. So pay extra attention during play dates! Have a discussion about peer pressure. Ask your child to share a time when she or he was pressured by peers. Teach your child to follow the feeling inside that is saying, “I don’t think this is right.”