Generally speaking, most children will be able to handle this information without showing any fear over it. That said you will be teaching them about some scary situations, and some children may react more fearfully than others. Here are some tips for teaching this information without scaring children:
- Remind children that you are teaching them these things so that they will be safe all of the time, and not because you think that something bad will happen to them. Chances are nothing like this would ever happen, but we need to work on being safe no matter what happens, just in case.
- Make sure you do not give children the impression that all the world is bad. Explain to them that most people are kind, caring people who love children and would not do anything to harm them. But there are also a few bad people out there who might do something to hurt them (whether intentionally or unintentionally), and we need to be extra careful to keep those people from hurting us.
- Remind children that by learning these things, they will be safe no matter what happens. They are learning how to keep safe even if something goes wrong, so there is no reason to be scared.
- Avoid using words such as death or die, especially with young children. ‘Hurt’ or ‘harm’ is more effective, and something the child has dealt with. Young children do not even begin to understand or comprehend death until about age 6 or 7.
How To Handle A Child’s Fears Should They Arise
Should your child end up developing a fear over a particular safety issue, take the following steps:
- Always respect a child’s fears. Never indicate in any way that a child’s fears are ‘silly’ or ‘babyish.’ Even if they do seem futile, they are not to the child. Always respect a child’s fears.
- Follow these steps for putting a child’s fears at rest:
- Talk to the child to find out what’s really scaring them. Often times it may be something different than the obvious. Ask them questions to find out what’s really wrong.
- Have a talk with the child about why it scares them. Again, it may not always be the obvious.
- Help the child overcome their fear by putting it into real terms, and talking about how they can keep safe from it. If the child is scared about a fire happening, you can remind her that as long as she follows the rules and knows how to get out, fire will never get her.
- Talk up all of the safety precautions you are taking as a family to keep them safe.
More detailed information on dealing with a child’s fears can be found online in our section on fear in children.