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10 Ways to MakeYour Children More Resilient

What It Takes to Raise Kids Who Will Make Good Decisions

Parenting 911

Parenting Today's Adolescent Helping Your Child Avoid The Traps Of The Pre-teen And Early Teen Years



by Anne Perryman


Why can't I ride my bike to the playground by myself? asks 9-year-old Jason.

All the other kids are walking alone to school this year, wails 10-year-old Jennifer.


Has the world changed so much since we were asking our parents the same questions? It may seem that the level of menace in society has increased, but what has changed the most is the mind-set of parents and their willingness to confront the dangers. This new mind-set, as journalist Glenn Collins describes it, means preparing children for emergency situations, particularly those involving abuse or abduction. Although parents have traditionally done this, never has it been more encouraged in schools or sanctioned by society.”


We want to support our childrenĦs independence but, at the same time, ensure their safety. We want them to become aware of potential problems but we don't want to scare them. Here are some ways to help kids become street smart while keeping those goals in mind.


š       Assess your own situation. Would you describe your child as being fairly mature and responsible? Does he notice his surroundings or seem to have his head in the clouds most of the time? Do you think your immediate neighborhood is a safe place to walk alone? Are there kids of about the same age around? Do you know some of your neighbors, storekeepers, or others in your vicinity?


š       Establish ground rules. Create boundaries within which children can move safely on their own. However, even if it extends only to a 10-block-area, an adult must still give permission to go. Depending on the destination, a child should check in upon arrival and come home at the agreed upon time, unless he or she calls. These are nonnegotiable rules. If they are broken, tell your child that you are going to take away this privilege until you feel he or she can earn your trust again.


š       It's okay to say no. If, like most parents, you arenĦt comfortable dropping off a 12-year-old at a mall, movie theatre or video arcade, stick to your guns no matter how much your child fusses. Explain that it isnĦt that you donĦt trust him but rather that you are concerned about the crowds and the potential for an unexpected situation arising in any of these places. An adult should go along even if there are a few kids. If you sit outside the video arcade, for example, you would be letting the kids hang out by themselves but still know they were safe.


š       Role-play potentially dangerous situations with your child. Pretend youĦre a stranger in a car asking for help or a teenager inviting your child to play a free game at an arcade. Then reverse roles. Play the what if” game. Ask your child how he or she would respond in different situations such as: "What if you have a problem with your bicycle and someone you do not know offers to help?”


š       Talk to other parents. Be aware that you are not in this alone,” says educator Sally Tanned. The same conversations about safety, on the streets and on the Internet, are happening in every household where there are preteens.” Join or create parent groups at school or in peopleĦs homes to discuss and compare notes on concerns such as safety, going to parties, and other social issues.


(adapted from Work & Family Life newsletter, edited by Susan Ginsberg)



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