How to keep children safe on long holidays – The Sun Nigeria

By Kate Halim

School the holidays present a challenge for parents, especially working ones. Arranging childcare and managing work-life balance is difficult and often expensive. When parents are at home, it can be difficult to keep children safe and entertained, especially during the rainy season when the weather is more unpredictable and it’s harder to get out.

Sunday from Saturday spoke to Mr. Joseph Adekunle, a Lagos-based safety expert and he listed some tips that would help keep children safe while they are at home on vacation.

1. Teach your kids not to talk to strangers

It is imperative that parents of toddlers ages two and older teach their children about the dangers of talking to strangers. They should never go anywhere with someone they don’t know without first asking and getting permission from their parents. For parents who frequently take their toddlers or young children to shopping malls or restaurants, it is important not to take their eyes off them as they may get lost or injured.

2: Let your kids know what to do if they get lost

As a parent, you need to teach your children what to do if they get lost in the crowd. For example, you can tell them to go to another parent they see with children if they suddenly walk away from you in a crowded place. And if you’re traveling with more than one child, teach them to stay together at all times. This will prevent one of them from getting lost in the crowd.

3: Your children need to know vital personal information about you

Parents should teach their children their personal information in case of an emergency. Your children need to know your full name, address and phone number. They also need to know which number to call in an emergency. Make sure they know the names of some trusted family members they can contact for help when needed.

4: If you are traveling with your children, make sure you are aware of safety

Do not leave anything to chance. You should be wary of overly nice strangers and those who want to know everything about you or your children immediately after meeting them. Do not divulge sensitive information to strangers on the bus, on the plane or where you are on vacation. Be safety conscious at all times.

5: If you are traveling abroad, teach your children to stay safe

If you are traveling outside the country with your children, prepare them to stay safe by teaching them to be aware of their surroundings. When you arrive at your holiday destination, check whether the windows and doors of your apartment are safe and suitable for children. If you have any concerns or notice anything unusual, such as a broken window latch or broken door handle, let reception know as soon as possible. These checks must persist on a daily basis.

6: During the holidays, do not let your older children wander alone

Older children may want to explore the hotel or look for a nearby store, but under no circumstances should you let your child wander off alone. Not only is it easy for them to get lost, but they will be very vulnerable. Therefore, always accompany them. If they want to use the pool, stay with them. If they want to play games with other children, stay close and watch them. Also remember that adults should always accompany small children to public restrooms.

7: For safety reasons, make sure your children wear brightly colored clothes outside your home

If you are spending time away from where you are based with your children, do something different to keep them safe. Ask your children to wear a brightly colored wristband or ID with their name, the phone number of where you are staying, or a cell phone number. You should also dress your little ones in brightly colored clothes. This allows you to spot them from a distance and keep them within sight.

8: Report suspicious people

Parents and children should immediately report anyone who looks suspicious lurking around their home, around the children’s play area, especially if they are not accompanied by children.

9: Talk to your kids before a family outing

Before you go out with your kids, make a rule that you should always be able to see them and they should always be able to see you. It may seem simple, but keep reminding them periodically, especially if you think they’re getting restless.

10: Use the two giant leaps rule

Let your children know that they can never be more than two giant steps away from you. It’s a fun and easy way for young children to remember not to wander off. You should also agree in advance on a meeting place for your older children, in case you become separated.

11: Give your children specific instructions before leaving the house

Tell your kids never to leave the mall or store to look for you, no matter what they are told. Remind them that you will never leave until you are reunited.

12: Establish the checking rule first with older children

Teach your older children that they should always check with you first before going anywhere in a public place, including another store, a playground, or even the bathroom. This way you will know where they are at all times.

13: Don’t use public facilities as a convenient babysitter

For safety reasons, do not leave your children alone in video arcades, cinemas, playgrounds or other public places. Predators, kidnappers and child traffickers have been known to prey on and abduct unsupervised children.

14: Always take young children to the toilet with you

Whenever you go out with your little ones, look for well-lit restrooms in busy areas whenever possible. Do not let your children with strangers use the toilet. Let them accompany you so you can keep an eye on them.

15: Public toilets are not safe places for a child to use alone

If you feel comfortable letting your older child (at least nine years old) use the public restroom alone, stand in front of the door and call out when your child comes in, “I’m here if you need me.” It’s a clear signal to anyone hanging around in there that there’s a relative nearby. Your child is less of a target if a potential predator thinks there’s a chance they could be caught.

If you think your child is taking too long, open the door and call, “Is everything okay? If you don’t get a response or are unsure, enter the bathroom immediately to make sure your child is safe. Letting your child know that you will do this every time you go out will encourage him to respond quickly and not linger.

16: Discuss age-appropriate safety issues with your children

Discuss age-appropriate safety issues with your child in a calm and fearless manner. Replace the word strangers with sensitive people. Let your children know that it’s not the way people look that makes them dangerous; it’s what they ask a child to do that makes someone bad. Explain this to them so they can understand that someone who seems good and kind can be a bad person. Some kids go with a stranger because he seemed nice or she didn’t look like a stranger.

17: Teach your children not to accept gifts from strangers

During these long school holidays, constantly hammer in your children’s ears not to accept gifts from strangers, neighbors and family friends when you are not around. Some sexual predators take advantage of this time to groom their potential victims by giving them gifts and warning them not to tell their parents.

18: Create a code word for your children when they are in danger

It is important to create a code word that will alert you when your children are in danger. When they say this word to you, you will know something is wrong and you will do something about it. Do not tell this code word to other family members or friends. This should remain a secret between you and your children.

19: Children should not let anyone into your home while you are away

Teach your children not to open the door to anyone in your absence. Some abductors use a family friend or neighbor to lure children into their trap. Tell your kids to call you if someone shows up while you’re away. This way you can talk to the person and let them know they can’t come in or when they need to come back.

20: Make your home a haven of peace

Don’t expose your children by telling everyone about them and their academic or athletic accomplishments. Keep your children’s issues confidential and always have their safety in mind when talking with other parents, family members, neighbors and family friends. Make your home a safe haven for your children by ensuring they are safe and protected. Let them know they can entrust their challenges to you. Don’t judge them harshly when they make mistakes or constantly criticize them.

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