Summer is here, so how do we help keep our families happy and safe??
From bugs and the threat of Zika, sunburns, too much screen time, lack of routines, kids staying home alone, to bike safety- Summer can bring about worries for many parents.
Below is a short visual list of things to possibly consider for this summer. Having visual images are not only easier for younger children to “read” and understand, but visuals are more fun! Posting a family calendar or message center somewhere central in the home is a great way to have these items listed for all to see.
With Summer comes scrapes and bruises. I use this visual to help kids remember how to protect themselves. Bike Helmets, Sunscreen, Bug Spray, access to H20, knowing phone numbers of caregivers, etc., are also very essential.
Besides arming your children with bug spray or bug bands to prevent itchy bites, consider “arming” them with the idea they can tell a stranger to “Bug Off”. Teach your children that it is ok to be polite while still keeping themselves safe. If they feel uncomfortable by someone they do not know, it is ok for them to walk away (or run) and tell a known adult about the situation. This also goes for older kids and those in high school.
Just like mosquitos tend to fly in a group, the “safety in numbers” concept is great. If you are willing to let your child walk or bike to a local park without parental supervision, have them team up with other friends. Kids are less likely to be enticed by a stranger if they have a group to pal around with. Child predators are less likely to approach a group compared to one child — although this is not always the case, so having the “stranger danger” talk is key.
Have “check points” for your child in order to check back in with you or their sitter. If you are at a place like Bay Beach-for example- only give them enough tickets to ride one ride at a time. This is a good way to assure they will check back in with you. Picking a place at each park you visit as the checkpoint can also ease both kids’ and adults’ minds. It is also okay for you to go to the park with your child(ren). You can read a book or magazine and still allow them independence. If possible, allowing children to have a cell phone (to be able to reach you) can come in handy.
Having “Off” stand not only for bug spray but a reminder of stranger danger, helps these concepts stick likely the spray itself.
Sunscreen is important to prevent unwanted sunburns while promoting healthy skin care. Think of other things you may want you shield your kiddos from.
Monitoring screen time and setting up parental controls on the TV/Internet are two ways to keep kids safe. Having screen and gaming time rules can help kids from turning into couch potatoes over the summer. Setting up programs on phones and computers to monitor your children can help you be more aware of what they are doing and who they are contacting. These programs can also help you block unwanted people/ strangers who may be online predators
“Block” gun cabinets and liquor cabinets with locks to keep your young ones and teens safe while they may stay home alone. Even car keys if you do not want your child to think of going for a joy ride may be a good idea too!
This is an ionic childhood treat many of us remember from our own childhoods. Besides this being a cool treat, it is a visual to remind us to schedule in “chill time” so that our children have a well-balanced summer. Chill time for some may be a nap, for older children reading for 30 minutes. Getting out of the hot sun to cool off is one way to avoid later afternoon meltdowns at the pool!
I hope this quick flight of ideas is helpful to you and your kids this summer!
Again, this is a very short list of ideas to put in place for a safe and healthy summer!
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*Brand name items are not being used to endorse specific brands, but to be used as a metaphor for visual cues.