Controlling our fears and sharing lessons learned helps your child gain confidence.
It is up to us to support our children in gaining autonomy and being able to ensure their own safety.
Hazard identification practices and reflex responses help to build self-confidence.
This page offers advice on how to go beyond primal fears.
From an early age, you can help your child recognise the inner and outer signs of unacceptable situations in relation to their body or a potential danger to themselves.
And above all, suggest an answer to each potential situation. Here are a few important points that could be useful to your children from when they are very young through to their teenage years.
Choose with them five trustworthy people like the five fingers of the hand to form their protective circle.
On each finger, write with them the names of the "refuge people" who will always be there for them: Daddy, Mummy, their older brother, their school teacher…
These are names they will remember by dint of repetition. Drawing on the hands and taking a photo of the hand can help them remember when they will need to confide in someone
Help your child differentiate between different parts of the body.
Private parts: children must be made aware that their genitals and anus belong to them alone. It is not OK if an adult asks a child to look or touch him or her in this area.
By discussing this topic regularly, you will allow your child to develop the reflex of confiding in someone from their protective circle (five fingers of the hand) when the time comes. Explain that an adult who wants to touch them in this area is sick and that they can help him get well as quickly as possible.
Teach your child to recognize the signals in his or her body that indicate that a situation is dangerous for him or her and that he or she should avoid it.
In online gaming as well as on social media, your child must be aware that every virtual friend likes to play as someone who is not necessarily him or her. A boy can become a girl, an adult can become a child, ...
Parents need to be aware that these virtual friends are, by definition, like their real-life friends; they share an emotional connection.
One can decide to meet a virtual friend in real life, but never in secret.
Warn your child that this could happen and that it’s not a problem if they promise not to put themselves in danger.
That means meeting in a public place, preferably with a trustworthy person. Never arrange to meet an unknown person in one’s house or an isolated parking lot.
Posting images of your child on the Internet exposes them to potential dangers that would not exist if you had not posted their photo. Someone could for example steal their identity or use their picture to feed fictional lives or child pornography sites.
Due to this, we cautiously evaluate the wisdom of disseminating missing persons reports before they are published.
Avoid posting personal details of your family on social media. Set an example for your child by preserving your privacy.
Agree on a password with your child in case someone else comes to the school exit or accosts him or her on the street to "take them home".
Explain to your child that this code should remain your secret and that it will only be used in this case.
In case of danger, so that the child can react on their own, it will have to overcome the principle of obedience that it has been taught. To achieve this, here is the "Three Rs" guide: Recognise, React, Report...
This delicate exercise involves challenging some of the principles you have probably taught your child from an early age. To differentiate acceptable situations and emotions from ambiguous and potentially dangerous situations, it will need tools to be able to say "no" in full knowledge of the facts. In order to deal with an unexpected event in an autonomous and safe manner, it will have to free itself from your vision, however accurate it may be.
Here are the challenges for which you will need to prepare together: 1. Recognise emotional levers. 2. React, alert, shout 3. Report, share with their protective circle.
Leverage through compassion
If at first the child refuses to do a service for an adult, it can be accused of being mean or heartless. "Don't you want to come and talk to my little girl who's sick? That's not nice.... "”.
Your child will want to apply the values it has acquired, such as being kind, so it may feel compelled to give in.
Similarly, it might forget the advice of caution out of compassion for the suffering people or animals... "I lost my dog; can you help me look for it?”
The answer to these requests is "You have to ask the police to help you; not me, I'm a child".
Take the example where they’ve already refused several times and cannot get themselves out of this situation, and are then offered a chance to redeem themselves.
Your child is kind and does not like injustice. First, he or she will try to put into practice what they know. Faced with an adult's disappointment, anger and sadness, they may be tempted to want to redeem themselves by accepting another proposal that would interfere slightly less with the safety rules they have learned.
Have them draw a picture of the situation where they shout "NO!" to a grown-up and run away.
Discuss significant fears together and ask them to explain how they felt during these moments in terms of their body (bodily danger signals).
Teach your child to adopt the right reaction when something suspicious happens, whether it is with a stranger, a neighbour or a member of his or her close circle.
Once a child has recognised a situation that you have discussed together, whether they are directly involved in or witnesses to a scene involving another child, they must be able to respond to the situation with courage and confidence.
You can exercise with them to help them have the right reflexive response when the time comes.
If someone tries to keep them away from friends, houses, or the playground under the pretext that:
"I lost my dog / I need help / I don't know this street, can you come with me?”
Answer: "Why don't you ask a grown-up / the police?”
To prepare him/her to face a dangerous situation, practice with your child speaking up and shouting: "NO! I don't want to go with you, let me go!" and then running.
When the time comes, your child will be able to find the resources to get away from danger on his own by SCREAMING, RUNNING and ALERTING the people around him or her.
After facing an unusual situation, the child should still instinctively tell an adult straight away what it has just experienced.
If possible, the child should preferably turn to one of the members of his or her protective circle (five fingers of the hand) who will then take the necessary steps to permanently protect them (by contacting the police in particular).
If they can't, they will have to overcome their shyness and alert another adult nearby that something is wrong and that they need help.
Reporting also means protecting other children who may face the same danger.