Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Safety Tips for Young Children

Once again, it is time to go over the obvious and not-so-obvious ways to keep our children safe during the holiday shopping season.

Children have such a tendency to become distracted, no matter how many times we tell them to pay attention. As with anything else, we must lead by example here. Be aware of your surroundings and follow common sense guidelines for your own safety.

When you take small children shopping, they often get tired or hungry early and may add more drama to the experience than you would like. They can also be prone to wander, be curious and cause a little mischief. It is better to leave them in the care of a trusted relative or friend during the rush of the holiday season if at all possible.

If you must take small children, keep them at your side AT ALL TIMES. Our precious little ones become the target of would-be evildoers, especially this time of year. We must keep our guard up and teach the little ones that there are bad people out there and they must stay with mommy at all times. This is not negotiable and you must be firm and consistent about it.

With children slightly older, they will want some independence and really push those barriers. You must keep in mind that now is not the time to allow them to move into the unknown alone. Do not allow them to go unescorted to the restroom, food court, toy isle or video arcade. Do not allow them to go by themselves to "check out" something cool they saw in another shop.

Do not, under any circumstances, allow your child to go alone to the car, nor should the child be left alone in the car. You should not allow even 2 small children to go alone to the car or be left alone in the car. Safety in numbers does not include 2 small children alone in a vehicle.

Teach your children to stay with you and that if you are ever somehow separated, they must know their name, phone number and address. They should go to a person of authority at the store and tell that person to contact you. They must know it is okay to ask for help from someone who works for the store as a clerk, security person, etc. Point these people out to your child so he or she will recognize them if needed.

Tell your children to inform you if anyone is bothering them, talking to them, or following them. That is important.

While these are tips that many will find familiar, it is important to go over them and keep safety at the top of our holiday "to do" lists.

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