As a parent, I can attest that there are few fears that are bigger than something terrible happening to your children. The reality is that we, as parents, can only be present to watch over our children part of the time. We trust others to help us keep our children safe. This week, as we talk about ways to protect our children from child predators, please take the time to share this information with your child' s other caregivers. Here are two more important ways to help protect your children: Place the family computer in a public place. Child predators do not need an physical door to reach your children in your home. They can come in over the internet. We recommend a "no closed door" policy for kids with internet access over lap tops or desk top usage. That means if you are on the computer, it needs to be in a room where adults can monitor the content. A good barrier against predators is to install an internet filter so that children cannot accidentally access sites that are dangerous. Filters such as Net Nanny, CYBERsitter, or Be Safe can also prevent predators from accessing your child's computer through vulnerabilities in your internet security. However, you must stay current on updates to keep your filter working.
Establish an environment of caring safe communication. Your relationship is the best link you have to your children's trust. You have to work at making sure your children feel safe and secure in talking with you about anything. If you chose an authoritarian style parenting (think drill sergeant), your child may feel that they will be punished for coming to you with concerns. If you are too permissive, they may not have faith that you are strong enough to protect them. The best style of parenting to foster safety and security is authoritative style of parenting. This mutually respectful style of parenting offers good boundary setting and strong communication when delivered with love and gentleness and acceptance. Tell your kids that they can talk to you about ANYTHING. Then prove it to them by listening and reserving judgement when they take you up on your offer. When you show children that you can handle the small stuff, then they will trust you with the big stuff.
Please stay tuned as Natalie and Joleen continue to offer protective tips. As always, thanks for stopping by.
Written by Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT
Alexa Griffith, LMHC, LCAC, NCC, RPT is a licensed therapist and Registered Play Therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Alexa enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Alexa also does play therapy, family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield