This topic was raised by several Facebook followers who asked if we (well, Barry in particular) would talk about safety for the family: including fire safety, bullying, safety on the internet, etc. Be forewarned, this is a little bit “all over the place” because we just sat down and talked through things as they came to mind, and then turned it into a written post. So…hopefully it’ll be easy enough to keep up with, but forgive us in advance for being a bit scattered. 🙂
Barry: We have four kids from the ages of 2-9 years old. They are all still pretty young, BUT they can all listen and obey to instructions! Teaching your kids to listen and obey is probably the most crucial part of safety in the home. Your kids to know when you are serious.
The most crucial part of home safety is that your children know to listen and obey.
Barry: There is a voice that moms and dads have that the kids KNOW they must listen and obey. I don’t mean that as a joke, but your kids need to know that whatever you speak in that voice – whatever you say is taken very seriously.There is sometimes even an accompanying “look” on some occasions where your kids can see you.
Stacy: You may not always have the time to say “why” – your children just need to know they must listen and obey when you tell them what to do.
The second really important aspect of safety: we set clear boundaries.
Barry: We have a row of trees in the front yard. The kids know that they CANNOT go past that row of trees – there are consequences. They also know never to leave the yard or the house with ANYONE – if they see a stranger, they run and come to us right away.
Stacy: Our discussion on safety isn’t perfect: fire safety is not something that we have really preached much about.
Barry: Yes, this is definitely something we need to work on. Our kids know that if there is a fire, they should stay low and go. They can open their windows and climb out (we all have ground floor windows). But we’ve never done a fire drill or anything – and I think maybe we should. This is an area we now see we come up short so we need to dig a little deeper on this aspect.
Barry: Another area we talk about in our home is guns and knives. We do believe in the second amendment so there are guns in a few spots in our home. The kids know that guns are NOT toys. The kids know that should NEVER, EVER touch a gun. If they see one laying around the house or yard, they should come immediately see Mom and Dad and NEVER touch it. Not only not touch it, but come tell Mommy and Daddy right away.
We have made gun safety such a serious rule in our home that the kids ALL understand the importance.
Stacy: Barry has begged me to take shooting classes with him, but I’m just not interested. At some point in time, I used to carry Mace, but I lost it and I guess I need to go look for it! I do know the two rules though – eyes and groin, eyes and groin. I know where to hit if I was ever attacked, so I hope I got it covered. And also, I am very observant when I go out in public – whether I am alone or if they kids are with me. Barry has taught me to pay attention to my surroundings.
Barry: In that same vein, situational awareness is one of the biggest things I want to teach anyone about safety. And when it comes to strangers, shooting events, mugging, etc. there are two books I recommend. The first book is The Gift of Fear – which I realize sounds intimidating, but it really helps you develop your situational awareness. The best fights are the ones you aren’t in at all – if that makes sense. Pay attention! Don’t always walk around looking down with your face glued to your phone! Be aware of your surroundings. The second book is How to Be Your Own Bodyguard. It teaches the same kinds of things about situational awareness and how to not be a victim.
Don’t act like a victim – be alert and pay attention to the world around you.
Stacy: When it comes to internet safety…again, boundaries are hugely important! Our kids are NOT allowed to just play on the computer. Annie does have school online and we do let them watch a few channels on YouTube, but that is pretty much it.
Barry: As a great example of how they know that boundary…Annie came to me last night and wanted to look for a spy kit on Amazon. She has access to the internet, but she knew not to even try to go on Amazon to search without Mom or Dad. Our kids don’t have phones or personal devices, only the family computer. We’ve been asked as what age to introduce the internet, but I think that’s up to each parent. We allow Annie to use it (she’s 9 at the time of this writing), but she is a fairly advanced reader, very mature, and understands the boundaries and rules. We are in a different era now! It’s not about the phone anymore. It’s about all the OTHER things you do on and with the phone.
Stacy: I didn’t have my first cell phone until I was a sophomore in college.
Barry: Quick note on pool safety. All of our kids except Ruthie have had swim lessons. At these lessons, they learn the basics as well as the rules of the pool. I think teaching them the skills and rules is the best pool safety out there.
Our two big things with safety: set boundaries and communicate these clearly.
Stacy: To add something to that, if you set boundaries and you don’t follow through – your boundaries don’t mean anything! Make sure your kids know that the boundaries you set are REAL. If they think that the boundaries are flexible and you aren’t going to enforce them, they will push past the limits.
Barry: One last thing – I want to touch on friend safety. We do not allow the kids to spend the night away from home unless it’s with our parents. We don’t plan on ever allowing that. As far as friends go, we monitor very closely who they hang out with and what friends they have. This is easy for us because we homeschool. But I encourage you to do the same. Try to get to know the parents and kids that your kids will be around. There are really creepy people out there and it’s our job to protect the children from this.
Stacy: Yes I agree. You think you know people – but you just can’t ever be sure. Sadly, that is the world we live in.
We realize that this was just skimming the surface of this very broad topic… there is so much more we could have talked about! If you have specific questions, please ask them in the comments below.