יום טוב Safety Check
A lot of parents have spoken with their kids about safety, and many schools have integrated programs to educate their students. As this block of חגים comes it's a good time to check in with your kids and remind them about the problematic behaviors that they need to be watching for. There are a lot of new people around whether you're home with an influx or you're off visiting somewhere. Please note that there is a need to make sure you aren't catastrophizing, but rather calmly explaining safety procedures.
This is a great time to remind younger kids that it's not about who the person is but how the person behaves. Abuse can come from friends, family, shul members, or anyone else who has the opportunity. Being proactive will help make everyone secure. Teaching them the signs will also allow them to feel empowered rather than scared.
Your kids are better off in supervised groups than in isolation with only one other person. Remind your kids that no one should be acting in a sexual manner with them, and explain what that means. Along with that, review the body parts that no one should be touching. If your child seems uncomfortable around a particular child or adult, find out why. Above all else, they need to know that they can tell you anything and that everyone will be safe and they won't get in trouble. A common way to manipulate kids into silence is to threaten the safety of the child or their loved ones or tell them their parents will be angry.
Your older kids may be in situations where there is alcohol. They need to understand that alcohol functions as a drug in their body and that it can be dangerous for kids to drink it. If you are drinking in front of them please talk to them honestly about how you limit the amount you have and/or how often you drink. Modeling responsible drinking for your children while talking to them about how to make good choices will help them when you're not around. Let them know that if they're feeling pressured to drink they can come talk to you or another responsible adult. The goal is safety, it's not to punish them. They need to know that they have someone to approach for help when they need it.
Last, over חג we have candles, ovens, stovetops, and platas plugged in. Please double check your venting in your kitchen and the wiring on your electronics. As you set up candles talk to your kids about fire safety and your fire plan. If you don't have a plan, then discuss with them how you could safely evacuate from different parts of your home.
Please note that this advice is meant to be general. You know your kids and how to best talk to them. If you have a child who deals with anxiety they can benefit from knowing that you are also thinking through potentially harmful situations and you have a plan in place. Your kids rely on you to be their source of security and these conversations let them know that they can trust you to keep them safe.
Thanks to Kidshealth, Child Safety Pledge, and Darkness to Light for input for this piece