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What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers
Keeping Children Safe

Monday, June 12, 2017

Helping Your Children Cope with Divorce

Even though more and more children’s books, movies, and television shows now deal with the topic of divorce and have helped to normalize it now in a way that was never done in the past, divorce can still be devastating to children. There are strategies for parents to use to help their children cope.
Divorce is difficult for parents and children alike. Many children of divorce feel frustrated, sad, angry, and may even act out in unacceptable ways. Parents can work together to help their children over the rocky road of divorce

How to Help Children Cope

According to Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D, author of “Helping Kids Cope with Your Amicable Divorce” on, parents can help their children cope with divorce by listening, by being empathetic and by being reassuring. Parents should encourage their children to share their feelings and listen intently when they do. If they have trouble finding the words to express themselves, parents can help by being mindful of their moods and inviting them to talk and acknowledging what they say. Parents should let their children know that whatever they say is ok.

Parents should clear up any misunderstandings or misconceptions that their children have about the divorce. If necessary, parents should repeat the reason for the divorce and reassure their children that, though some things will change, the family will work together to adjust to the changes. Above all, parents should be patient with their children. Adjustment will take some time for parents and children alike.

Demonstrating physical closeness with children is a helpful coping strategy. Parents should demonstrate physical closeness in the form of hugs and a closer physical proximity.  Such closeness is a powerful way to reassure children that you will be there for them.

Parents should try to provide stability and structure for their children as they adjust to the changes. That doesn’t mean that they have to establish rigid, inflexible schedules, but having some semblance of a consistent routine in each household and open communication in and between households provides needed stability during divorce.

Divorcing parents should strive to work with their ex spouses, maintain an amicable relationship, and avoid arguing in front of the children or putting the children in the middle of arguments or disagreements. Parents should avoid making their children feel as if they have to choose sides. 

Parents should be tactful and avoid discussing with their children any details of their spouse’s behavior. Parents should avoid making negative comments about their ex in front of or to their children. Divorcing parents being amicable and working through problems together is very reassuring to children and will help teach them problem solving skills as well. 

When to Seek Professional Help

Given time, love and reassurance, many children will begin to cope with the changes that divorce brings about in their lives. Some children adapt rather quickly. Others may have a more difficult time and may need additional help.

It is normal for children of divorced parents to feel a certain amount of anger, anxiety, and even mild depression. However, if after several months, children of divorce haven’t shown signs of beginning to cope, parents should seek professional help for them.

Parents should watch for such warning signs as poor concentration and trouble at school, sleep problems, and drug or alcohol problems. If their children should start withdrawing from family, friends and loved ones or show no interest in participating in activities they formerly enjoyed, they may not be coping.

Parents should also watch for more severe reactions to the divorce such as persistent angry or violent outbursts or any signs of self injury, such as cutting. If any such behavior is observed parents should seek professional help.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Safety of Teens and Tweens at Concerts

My book, What Would You Do? A Kid’s Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers, is  book offering strategies for children, teens, and parents to empower them to stay safe in a world that presents all sorts of temptations and risks for them. There are many scenarios and activities which can be of concern for parents in regard their children’s safety. One such scenario is attending concerts or music festivals.

Teens love going to concerts, and more and more preteens who enjoy music performed by musical artists whose music is directed to the younger set, such as Ariana Grande or Katy Perry, also want to attend concerts.  Nothing can guarantee a child's safety at a concert or anywhere else for that matter. However, there are steps parents can take to minimize any routine problems preteens and teens may encounter. I have presented below five strategies to help with that.

Preteens or tweens should never attend concerts alone.    
Children of this age should always have parent or adult supervision at concerts. Even teenagers can benefit from an adult presence. If a parent accompanying a tween or teen is embarrassing to him or her, parents should purchase  tickets a row or two behind the child and his or her friends. With such a strategy, parents can be there if they are needed without being on top of them.

Once parents feel confident that their teenagers are old enough and mature enough to see a concert without adult supervision, parents should make sure that they go with friends so they can look out for one another.

Always designate a meeting place.

Decide where your kids should meet if they get separated from you or their friends. It is a good idea to size up the concert or festival venue before the music begins. This is especially important at festivals, clubs, or other general-admission concerts where everybody tends to wander about.

Prepare for any possible emergencies, especially big emergencies.  

Power outages, unexpected thunderstorms, a sudden illness or injury affecting a performer, and, tragically, even terrorist threats -- any number of situations might force an abrupt cancellation or exit from the concert Always be familiar with the location of  emergency exits are. Know where the security guards are. Stay calm, stay together, don't push or get pushed.

Prevent potential problems.

Be alert to suspicious behavior and self-destructive behavior and notify an usher or guard to such behavior. "If you see something, say something."
 Likewise, remind our teens to keep an eye on their wallets and bags, water bottles or sodas, and tell them to never accept a drink or a snack from a stranger.

Anticipate needs and bring the essentials.

Make sure your teens and tweens have memorized key phone numbers in case they lose their phones or use up battery power while taking video. They should be equipped with sunglasses and sunscreen for outdoor concerts, as well as tissues (concert restrooms often run out of toilet paper) A small bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel might be a good essential to take along too. 

Make sure their cell phones are fully charged.  It might be a wise idea to have them call or text to check in with parents at a point in the concert. In addition, they should always have cash for emergencies.