Kids are naturally observant and often notice things we would not expect them to or want them to notice. They often say what is on their minds and ask questions we would never have thought to ask. You can take advantage of this for their safety.
While kids are young is a perfect time to teach them situational awareness. Teaching them to be aware of their surroundings can stop a potential kidnapping or may help someone else in need. Too many kids have their heads down nowadays whether they are playing on their phones or other devices or they are just not paying attention to anything.
Five Ways To Teach Your Kids Situational Awareness:
1. Play games with them. We would play a lot of "I Spy With My Little Eye Something..." passing the time at restaurants, doctor's offices, and ball games. I would start with the game with picking out a color of something. This game has the benefit of teaching kids to look around and notice things that wouldn't normally notice. I would also make up games like "Name 5 Things That Are (Color)" or Name 3 Things That Start With (Letter)".
2. Leave the electronic devices at home. When you are running errands or taking short trips, leave them at home. Instead of looking down at a device, kids will be looking up and around and probably noticing a lot more than you want them to. However, they are looking up and being aware of what is around them and that is a good thing. If they are walking to a friend's house, school, or the park, teach them to stay off the devices too. They need to be looking up, not down.
3. Teach them to be wary of strangers. I know there has been some debate on this, but the truth is that kids need to wary of anyone who they or you do not know. They need to be taught what to do in those situations also. If they are approached by a stranger and you are near by, they should be yelling for you immediately and running towards you. If they are approached by a stranger alone, they need to keep walking or start running for home or the nearest safe place. You should also teach them some basic self-defense in case they are grabbed.
4. Teach them to look for the good people. They should know to look for the good people or the "helpers". Just like they need to be wary of strangers and people who might harm them, they need to know that they can run to a teacher, police officer, pastor, or fireman for help or to get help.
5. Teach them to be confident. If kids are confident and look like they are in control of themselves and their environment, they will less likely become a target. There is a difference in being cocky versus being confident. You should teach them to look everyone in the eye, be assertive in their body language, and be vocal if someone is bothering them in a displeasing way. When they walk into a room, teach them to enter with confidence, looking around at their surroundings, and taking notice of everyone in the room. This will take practice and encouragement from parents. You should practice this at home as well as away from home. You can ask them questions about what they noticed and what problems could have occurred.
In what ways would you teach your kids situational awareness?
Thanks for reading,