Teaching kids who have been through adverse childhood experiences vital safety skills is crucial for their development. Regularly practicing home safety skills can increase their confidence, reduce the risk of accidents, and help kids feel more secure.
However, most kids will mentally check out if you didactically tell them what they should not do. This is understandable, as no one enjoys extended safety lectures.
Instead, try to utilize novel safety strategies to engage kids and help them understand the basics of first aid and risk assessment. This can help build life-long skills that will improve personal safety and aid initiatives to improve mental health.
The average home is filled with dozens of serious hazards. This means that all kids should be aware of home safety basics to avoid hazardous materials, reduce the risk of choking, and minimize the chance of cuts and blunt trauma injuries. Educating kids is particularly important for parents in busy homes who cannot always keep an eye on every child.
Start by putting together a fire safety plan. A good fire safety plan gives kids a clear sense of direction if an emergency occurs. It reduces the chance of smoke inhalation and gets kids out of danger as soon as possible. An effective safety plan can help educate kids about the common causes of fires and teach them the importance of regularly checking and replacing alarms.
Proceed with caution when teaching kids home safety skills with practical lessons. Children with ACEs may have experienced trauma associated with domestic settings and may find the experience triggering. Conversely, a well-thought-out safety plan can help kids feel safe and develop a sense of belonging.
If appropriate, put together the safety plan together. Walk the house with your kid and try to identify home safety hazards. Write these details down as part of a fire safety plan and address any unnecessary risks there and them. This gives older kids a sense of responsibility and alleviates some of the anxiety they may feel when at home.
Children shouldn’t be expected to perform first-aid. However, accidents do happen and kids may find themselves needing to administer care in an emergency. This extends to mental health safety, too. Kids who understand the warning signs of anxiety are well-equipped to help friends and family with conditions like depression or ADHD.
Parents and caregivers can help children develop first-aid skills by signing up for age-appropriate training courses together. Importantly, these training sessions should not trigger children with ACEs and should cover sensitive topics with care. If caregivers are unsure of what to expect, it’s best to proceed with caution to protect children who may feel anxious when learning how to administer first-aid.
If kids are in a good position to learn first-aid, consider starting with simple first-aid skills like:
- Heimlich Maneuver;
- Stopping bleeding;
- Concussion identification;
- Supporting strains.
Having first-aid knowledge is not only good for your child but also for your family at large. For instance, there are several benefits to knowing CPR, including being able to recognize and assist in emergencies and having greater confidence. Children may also be able to teach others how to do so as well.
These first-aid basics should be taught in a calm environment with the oversight of a healthcare professional. Stay calm throughout the process and reassure kids who don’t get it right the first time. Remember, children will only engage with activities if they’re interested in the subject matter and feel that they are in a safe learning environment.
Kids are surrounded by risks. Unfortunately, this includes the risk that other adults sometimes pose. Take an active role in improving personal safety by repeating phrases like “Never go with anyone else unless you speak to me first,” and “I will always tell you if you are going to go with someone else”. Repeating these statements is crucial, as kids must understand that all adults who are not their direct caregivers pose a potential danger.
Carefully explore role-playing scenarios. Avoid any trigger scenarios, but try to reinforce the important lesson that children should speak to their caregiver before going anywhere with other adults. During this time, children can be taught useful phrases to get out of scary scenarios.
Nowadays, caregivers need to empower children online, too. Kids are at risk when on the web due to online predators. Show children how to create and reinforce boundaries while having fun online. You can do this by playing the same online games and learning more about your kid’s hobbies. This engages children who love video games like Minecraft and gives you a great opportunity to practice personal safety skills together.
Teaching children safety skills is a crucial part of any kid’s development. As a parent or caregiver, you can teach kids how to identify risks around the home and take care of their personal safety using role play. This engages kids' vital safety skills and empowers children with ACEs who may feel vulnerable. Just be sure to avoid any triggering scenarios that may cause undue anxiety and work with medical professionals if you’re planning to learn first-aid together.