‘Safety Seeds’ to Plant In Your Children
Susie E. Caron © 4/29/16
"You’ve Got To Talk About It Now!" That's what I told a young mother. She was worried about her little ones growing up in a world full of temptation to do drugs, and other things. However, she said she 'didn't want to scare them too soon.'
So I explained why she needed to talk with her kids no matter how young or old, and for as long as she can about the tough things like drugs, alcohol, sex, to keep them safe. I gave her some guidelines and examples and she seemed ready to try.
The problem is
that most parents wait until it is either too late, or their kids have already become confused by their culture of peers who think “it’s all good.” I know that no one wants to bring up these tough subjects, especially with toddlers and preschoolers. No one wants to 'scare' their children. So parents put it off, and put it off.
You know that you ‘should’ be talking with them, but maybe you put it off because you don’t know what to say.
Let me help you with that.
Even at the youngest ages you can talk about safety in happy, loving ways that make kids 'want' to keep themselves safe. This isn't fool proof, but it's far better than doing nothing. It worked for me and my children and for many others.
This week I’ll teach you some positive ways to plant' safety seeds' to help them stay away from drugs and alcohol, Then I’ll continue over the next few weeks to help you teach them how they can keep their bodies safe from other things.
Kid's are exposed to drugs and alcohol at every age.
Today’s children are ‘growing up’ way too fast. While many of them still believe in Santa Clause, they are exposed to drugs, alcohol use, sex and abuse. It’s all too much for them. Developmentally they cannot process and make wise decisions for themselves about these things, without your help.
You may not want to bring these subjects up at all. However, I guarantee that your kids are being exposed, often as young as preschool ages. That’s why it’s imperative that you begin to plant healthy 'safety seeds' in them now, especially in your babies.
During your children’s first 5 years, what you say really sounds like ‘gospel’. From age 6 years on up, little by little, you begin to lose your power of persuasion. However, it’s never too late to begin. So use these ideas and google for others and begin today to plant safety seeds about ‘staying safe.’
How do you plant seeds so your kids will stay away from drugs and alcohol.
The best way is to introduce the concept of staying safe in very positive ways, no matter what the topic. To do that you ‘hook’ safety words with happy experiences and good feelings.
For example, while diapering your wiggling, giggling child, you can plant safety seeds by say things like, ”You are my sweetie and Mommy (Daddy) will keep you safe and I want you to stay safe.”
That’s not too young to begin, because even before your child mentally understands, the words you say, will be planted in memory along with all the good feelings that come from wiggling, giggling, and smiling between the two of you.
This is what you seek: Good feelings connected to the words ‘stay safe.’
If your child is preschool age then you can be more specific. For example: While eating with your child, preferably one of their favorite foods, you can smile broadly at her and say, “I’m so happy to see you love good food and I know you’ll never put anything into your body that could hurt you.”
Once again you’ve coupled a happy feeling experience with seed words like ‘good food’ and 'not putting anything into her body that could hurt her'. Of course, your child won’t know what you mean, and may look at you funny and think about food she doesn’t like, but that’ okay. Say this from time to time, but don’t overdo it. Just stay positive and plant the seeds.
With Elementary School Children.
What if your child is already elementary school age? From 6-10 children really like to feel important. So if you suggest to your child “We have something very important to talk about after lunch today.” That peaks curiosity and motivates the desire to find out what this is about. Again you’ll want to make lunch pleasant and offer something your child really likes. Then stay at the table together and fold your hands like this is really important and serious (because it is).
Now say something like, “I’m so glad that we can talk about this because I want to keep you safe and I want you to be safe always. Maybe you’ve heard about people putting things into their bodies that could hurt them. They could be eating them, swallowing them, and so on. I just wanted to make sure that you are always safe and would never put anything into your body that could hurt you.”
Watch their eyes and body language.
If they smile and make eye contact with you, things are probably good at the moment. Ask a few questions and repeat, “I’m glad you’ll never put anything in your body that could hurt you.” Then let them go play. Stay vigilant about their play and sleep behaviors, because that’s what will change if they become exposed. Have this conversation again from time to time to let them know they can talk with you about anything.
If they get fidgety or avoid eye contact with you then ask, “Do you know anyone who has been doing something that could hurt them?’ Be caring and non- accusatory and just listen. Encourage them to tell you more by saying, “No matter what you tell me I want to keep you safe and I won’t be mad at you because you trust me.” They may tell you about someone else, and that may be true, but it could also be about themselves, even though they put it out to you as if it was ‘a friend.’
However, this is not the time to challenge their honesty. Continue to be caring and listen. Ask them questions, “Do you think is a good idea?” and say things like “Wow, I’m worried that is hurting their bodies.” Eventually, your kids may tell you if they have been exposed or have tried something themselves. When they do reveal something, thank them for trusting you and for telling you. Tell them you want to help keep them safe always. Next you can work on a plan together, or tell them you need to think about how you can help. Then you’ll talk some more with them about this.
If you discover something that is scary, concerning, or you have questions about what to do, please contact your medical doctor and mental health professional for guidance.
These conversations also apply to your teenagers. However, if you think your teens are getting involved in substance abuse. Don’t wait, thinking, “It’s a stage and it will pass.” Talk with your medical doctor and mental health professional and get whatever help is needed for you and for your teenager.
Start planting safety seeds in your children today.
I’m aware that this is not what every parent wants to discuss with their children. But hopefully I’ve given you some idea how you can start today to plant some positive 'safety seeds' that will help keep your kids away from drugs and alcohol and continue to build their relationship and trust in you. That is what really counts.
Thank you for reading this important article. Tell me what you think about this topic in the comments below.
Twee’ means you and me
Planting 'Safety Seeds' in Our Kids
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!