As a parent, it’s your top priority to do what you can to keep your children safe. When your children are young, this can often seem simpler: they are often under supervision and look to you for continual guidance and support. But what about when your children grow up, become teenagers and start to be more independent? Here are some ways that you can continue to keep your children safe, even as they grow up.
1. Practice Open Communication
The first way that you can help keep your teen safe is by building a relationship based on open communication. This will allow your teen to feel safe asking you questions, asking for your advice and telling you when they need help. Begin by expressing interest in their days and their struggles. Offer support when they need it and be sure to take time to listen. Encouraging their openness also begins with your own openness. If you’re willing to be vulnerable with your teen they will feel safer doing so with you too.
2. Teach Them to Set Boundaries
Since you won’t always be around to watch over your children as they grow up, it’s important to teach them how to set boundaries and feel comfortable saying “no.” By teaching your children safe boundaries in the home, they will feel more comfortable expressing those boundaries in situations of peer pressure. This could help keep them safe from substance abuse, for example. Also keep in mind that teaching your children about sexual consent is another way to help your children learn boundaries and respect the boundaries of other.
3. Educate Them on Risky Behaviors
If your teen doesn’t understand what risky behaviors are or what the “risk” even is, it’s quite likely that they won’t be able to recognize unsafe situations. Teaching your teen about the realities of drug and alcohol abuse and the possible consequences and side effects can help them to make safe, informed decisions.
4. Educate Them on Internet Safety
Nowadays it seems that teens are always connected to the internet. Whether it’s on their smartphone, computer or tablet, your teen spends a significant amount of time online. As a result, one important way that you can ensure their safety is by educating them on internet risks and responsibilities. Topics to address include talking with strangers online, sharing their identity, meeting with people in person, cyberbullying and the permanence of posts and photos. Help your teen understand that, even though their actions take place behind a screen, they can have significant and lasting consequences in other areas of their life.
5. Be Involved
Another great way to help keep your teen safe is by being involved in their life! While this doesn’t mean that you need to be overbearing, it means that taking the time to support and pay attention to your teen’s activities will help you know what they’re up to. Attend events when you can, pitch in when parental help is needed and ask questions out of genuine interest. By having a better understanding of how your teen spends their time, you’ll be able to support them when they need assistance.
6. Encourage Self-Confidence
Encouraging self-confidence in your teen is an excellent way to help keep them safe. Not only will this confidence help them feel capable of maintaining those previously mentioned boundaries, but it will teach them to trust their instincts when they’re in new situations and to avoid succumbing to peer pressure. Giving your teen responsibilities will help them to develop this confidence and will also allow your relationship with your teen to grow, enabling you to be a person that they turn to for guidance for years to come.
Feature Image: Ninha Morandini