After working through the process of a divorce, children have to adjust to a new way of living. They may feel like the entire world has changed, even down to the small details like feeling comfortable talking with one parent or the other. It can open the door to unknown threats due to miscommunication or a lack of trust between kids and their parents.
Even if there’s nothing else in common between you and your former spouse, both parents must think alike regarding their children’s safety. Your kids must know that you have their best intentions in mind or they may reject your rules and dive into danger.
Read on to learn safety tips all parents should share with their children, no matter how old they are.
Starting a conversation about these factors could influence your kids to make smart decisions to protect themselves when faced with new situations.
1. Avoid Strange People
Your children will have to get used to shuttling between each parent over time. As they grow comfortable in a new bedroom or house during their visits, they may come across strangers. They should know never to open the door to strange people or go off with them alone. Even if someone is ringing the doorbell, they need to check with either parent to confirm it’s a trusted friend or family member.
2. Remember the Emergency Plans
New living arrangements require new safety plans, even if your kids will only be in their second home for short periods. Sit down with them and review where they can find the smoke detectors and where everyone should meet outside if they need to evacuate during a fire.
You can also go over emergency plans for tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes, depending on where each parent lives. These plans will help your kids feel safe no matter where they are, which will help them adjust to their new reality.
3. Value Your Voice
During and after a divorce, kids can react differently to parental separation and may feel they aren’t significant enough to keep their parents’ attention or save the family. The degradation of their self-esteem might cause them to stay quiet in the future if people treat them in mean, disrespectful ways.
Remind your kids that if someone says or does something that makes them uncomfortable, they have every right to tell that person to stop and then report it to an adult. Valuing themselves and their voice could save them in a dangerous situation.
4. Protect Personal Information Online
In the age of the internet, virtual threats pose just as much risk as in-person dangers. No matter how old they are, your children should learn about internet safety, such as never giving out their passwords or personal information.
Teach them to look for suspicious emails and avoid talking to strangers online so to be safe when they browse social media feeds or research information for school projects.
5. Use the Buddy System
When your kids explore where one parent moves, they’ll be in an unfamiliar environment. Curiosity may prod them to forget about their safety, which is why teaching them about the buddy system is smart. They’ll never go anywhere alone so they have a helping hand if they get scared or feel uncomfortable.
6. Ask for Help
Divorce can sometimes cause children to feel like they can’t trust adults. Parents need to assure them that the adults in their lives are always there to help. There’s no problem too big or small that they should have to face alone, no matter where they are or what they’re doing.
7. Learn About Your Security System
You or your spouse may install a security system after you begin living apart. Don’t forget to teach your kids how to activate or deactivate the alarm. They’ll need to know about this if they’ll get home from school after the alarm’s turned on or if they want to lock up the house at night.
8. Decline Shared Food or Drinks
Kids should never eat anything from a stranger or share food with their friends because of germs. They might feel pressured to do this when meeting new people or entering a new school system. The next time you sit down to eat or hang out, teach them about germs to help them understand the dangers.
9. Remain Calm and Wait
If your child gets lost in an unfamiliar store, supermarket or area of a new neighborhood, they should know to remain calm and wait. Panicking could lead them to get even more lost and confused. They should also know they can find a store supervisor or adult with a cellphone to contact you in case of an emergency.
10. Listen to Your Gut
As much as you’d like to teach them about every danger in the world, that’s not a realistic goal. One of the most important things parents can do is encourage their children to listen to their gut. If they feel pressured by friends or something feels off, they should immediately find an adult or get out of the situation.
Stay on the Same Page
You may disagree with your former spouse about many things, but you have to stay on the same page when you share safety tips with your children. Your kids will take things seriously and remember your instructions if you work as a team regarding these rules.