One of the greatest concerns parents face today is the challenge of keeping children safe in a fast moving and ever
changing world. The world we live in today is not the same as the one we grew up in. We grew up in a much smaller and slower
moving world than that of today’s youth.
When I was growing up, I played outside from morning until the streetlights came on with little-to-no adult supervision and in relative safety. The streetlights indicated dinner time, which was a cherished family gathering around the dinner table. We enjoyed our meal together and conversation of the day’s events. This was our time to connect. Television was a part of life, but not the main focus. We had a telephone on the wall, and when someone was talking on it, the rest of the family was quiet and respectful. With no cell phones, Dad was only summoned at work if the house was on fire or an equally important emergency! We learned to problem solve because we had to.
Another important factor, which was much different than today, was that we lived in the “now” reality. While actually
doing something without a cell phone or computer at hand, we were forced to focus on our activity. Creativity flourished,
delayed gratification was a developed by the natural wait for things, and it was not so easy to be distracted from any negative consequence of actions that may not have been in our best interest! Today we do not live in the now, we live in the “screen,” and such fixation can be a sure impediment to learning necessary life lessons. Often, children make choices not by a set of family values but by what others are doing. They are all too quickly aware of and informed in the advent of this “selfie” society, where good examples are hard to come by and even harder to filter. If we want our children to grow up and live in a safe world, we need to teach them to make good choices. When it comes to self-defense, children and young people are often at a disadvantage. They are smaller, weaker and more easily influenced than most adults. However, this is also the precise time period when the most important form of self-defense self awareness, can be developed. This is when the mindset can be formed and if we teach good safety habits when our children are at a young age we have a head start!
Train your children to be aware. Awareness is lacking more now than at anytime in the past. Most situations can be avoided by simply being aware of the world around you. Teach your children that they need to pay attention to what is happening in their environment. They won’t learn this on TV. Let your children make their own decisions, guided, of course, by your sound judgment. By allowing your child to seemingly make their own age- appropriate decisions as soon and as often
as possible, they build their insight, ability and confidence in making sound choices. When children are allowed to make their own decisions, they learn by their own successes and mistakes which path of judgment is best. When we learn, we grow our minds, and our ability to problem solve increases. The more problems solved on their own the better, and the better equipped they will be in life.
Additionally, if children are respected for their good decisions, they will treat others with respect as well as be able to
recognize “disrespect.” This is an important factor in developing healthy personal boundaries. This will translate to a day to day skill set, making the on screen challenges seem more like the fiction it is. Your child will be able to recognize real warning signs in the real world, and will be able to avoid tangible potential problems unlike the drama scenarios they see on TV. Remember, the key here is age- appropriate decisions with your guidance.
Remember to connect with your children on a daily basis. Find a ritual and stick to it. Dinner can be difficult with kids
on the go, but it is very important to do your best to make that work. On the nights where it does not, have a plan B for connecting. Don’t let a day go by.
In a world where people are endlessly challenged to make safety decisions, make sure your children learn well how to interpret information and do what they think is best. Hopefully, they will grow to be the person who can teach their children the same!
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Dan Ronin has trained in the martial arts for over 30 years. He is a combat veteran who served as a Military Police Investigator in the Army for 8 1/2 years. Dan offers classes in Counter-Attack self defense for open hands and weaponry, as well as disaster/emergency preparedness. Contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602-373-9630