Safety, part 1
Keeping your fifth grader safe may be different than keeping a younger child safe. You have probably taught your fifth grader about stranger safety by now. Of course you have. Many parents begin these lessons with their children at a very young age. In the world we live in, it is probably a good thing to start this lesson early. As parents we must be ever vigilant when it comes to strangers, and we need to teach our children to be also. And of course it must be done without inducing fear of strangers, just a healthy respect. Unfortunately, sometimes in our busy lives we forget to reinforce that lesson as our children get older. And without constant reminders from us, our children may become complacent regarding safety. Let’s look at the lessons that we should remember to discuss with our fifth graders.
First of all, our job is to instill caution in our children, not fear. So it is important for us to speak to our children in an atmosphere that makes them think safety, not danger. We should remind our children that not all strangers are bad or evil but that some might be and it is not possible to tell by what they look like if they are the acceptable kind of stranger or the unacceptable kind of stranger. We should also remind them that it is alright to speak to a stranger if they get parental approval. As our fifth graders become more independent and look to others besides parents and siblings for social support, they will have to meet other people. And everyone they meet will be a stranger the first time they meet them. Additionally, children of this age lack the judgment that older teens or adults may have gained through experience. We know that the man who greets us every time we go to the store is an employee of the store, and a paid greeter. But because we nod back, or speak, and allow the child to accept stickers, what message are we giving our children? Are we telling them that this person is no longer a stranger? Fifth graders often still view the world in black and white. Either someone is a stranger or they are not. As adults it is our job to model the behavior we expect from the child, but we must also communicate. We must let them know that acquaintances are still strangers. Stay tuned for more information about safety, and a few reminders on how to achieve it.