Dr. Janet Taylor: A Mayo Clinic survey found that many parents worry about the safety of their children. Up to one-third of these same parents report nonstop fears that are so intense that they can alter the parents' normal functioning. Can anyone say obsessive-compulsive?
I understand their ruminations. News reports are getting stranger and scarier. The recent Garrido horror is one of the most disturbing in recent memory.
The fact that eighteen years ago, a couple kidnapped, sexually tortured, and held hostage a then 11-year-old girl and the two daughters she had in captivity is mind-blowing. Luckily, stranger abductions and kidnappings are rare in the United States.
That being said, here are some tips for parents and especially moms:
1. Teach your child to memorize their name, address, phone numbers, and one emergency contact.
2. Instruct your child on how to call 911 in the case of an emergency.
3. Model good safety behavior. Check and lock doors at night. Be prepared when getting in and out of transportation (i.e., keys in hand), and report any suspicious activity to the police.
4. Practice what-ifs. For example, ask your child: What if someone asked you to help them look for their puppy? What if Mommy is taking a shower and the doorbell rings? What if someone makes you feel very uncomfortable?
5. Include Internet safety in your tips. For example, teach your children and teens not to give out personal information online.
6. Keep the lines of communication open. Listen to your child's concerns. Instruct them to talk to you about anything that scares, confuses, or upsets them.
7. Visit www.take25.org. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a great two-page resource guide on Stranger Danger.
Don't overwhelm your child with fear. Instead, inform them with facts.
|Dr. Janet Taylor is an Adult Psychiatrist in Private Practice in Chelsea (NYC). A consumer health strategist and certified life coach, her company, Mind Projects, Inc., specializes in corporate stress management and multicultural health strategies. Dr. Taylor has a column, "Ask Dr. Janet" in Family Circle magazine and is a frequent expert on national television. She lives with her husband and four daughters in Chappaqua, New York.|