Safety Tips for the Holiday Season
With the holiday season just around the corner, many families will be busy making their shopping lists and checking them twice! We recommend that you have a talk with your child about safety before heading out to a busy mall or boarding a plane, train or bus this holiday season. Crowds are greater this time of year and children may easily become separated from their parents. If this happens, parents need a plan and children should know what to do.
If your child accompanies you to the mall and stores, the Missing Children’s Network reminds parents to reinforce the following safety rules:
• As you prepare to leave your home, snap a photo of your child on your smartphone. In the event of an emergency, such as getting separated in a busy public area, you will have a complete description of the clothing your child was wearing;
• When arriving at the mall, identify with your child all the safe people and places where he can seek help if needed;
• Remind your child that he must stay within sight at all times;
• Make a plan in case you become separated. Have a pre-designated emergency meeting spot with your child;
• Tell your child to NEVER leave the mall or store without you;
• Always accompany younger children to any public restroom;
• Never leave your child alone in a public place such as a toy store, video arcade or movie theatre;
• If someone tries to take your child out of the mall or store, teach your child to yell: “This is not my Dad (or Mom)! I need help! ”, then run away and tell a safe adult such as a security guard or store clerk;
• Respect your child if he shows any distress or discomfort sitting on Santa’s lap – keep in mind that your child is learning to trust his instincts by listening to his internal alarm. This may prove invaluable in the event that your child is ever approached by an individual with questionable intentions.
What Can You Do if You See a Child Who Appears Lost?
A missing child is everyone’s responsibility. We encourage the public to always be alert and report any suspicious situations to the proper authorities. If you ever spot a child who appears lost, we encourage you to:
• Get involved;
• Ask if the child is lost and if he needs help;
• Comfort the child but exercise caution and restrain in physically touching him;
• Keep the child within eyesight; ask the help of bystanders in order to request the assistance of a store clerk. Most stores have established procedures in the event of children being separated from parents;
• Do NOT remove the child from the immediate location and NEVER drive away with the child in order to seek help;
• Wait with the child until proper help arrives.
What Should You Do if Your Child is Travelling Alone this Holiday Season?
If your child is flying or riding a train or bus alone this holiday season, we urge parents to remember thefollowing safety tips:
• When making reservations for your child, specify that your child will be travelling alone;
• Whenever possible, book a non-stop flight. Avoid booking the final flight of the day;
• Visit the airport or terminal so you child will not be intimidated and will know what to expect;
• In case of delay or cancellation, remain at the station or gate until your child departs;
• Make sure your child travels with the proper identification, as well as contact information in case of an emergency;
• Always have a back-up plan for the person your child is meeting with at their destination;
• Encourage children not to become too friendly with other passengers, or reveal any personal information.
The Missing Children’s Network wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!
Most people know about Black Friday… but now, a new Canadian movement for giving and volunteering called “Giving Tuesday” is coming to Canada on December 3rd.
The “opening day of the giving season”, is a day where charities, companies and individuals come together to share commitments, rally behind favourite causes and think about others.
On December 3rd, why not think about making a donation to the Missing Children’s Network. Your donation could make a difference in the life of our searching families and perhaps give them the best gift of all: the return of their missing child!
Thank you for your generosity!
Communicate With Your Teenager... It's Possible
If you are the parents of a teenager, you may at times feel as though you are not living on the same planet as them! Don't worry, this is completely normal! Adolescence is a period of significant changes for teens as they slowly begin to detach from parental authority.
It is important to not give up and to always keep the lines of communication open with your teenager. Communication is the foundation of every relationship, but the art of communicating isn't always easy. Effective communication involves active listening and an openness from all parties involved. Keep in mind that certain attitudes can be obstacles to establishing good communication. For example, a teen may find it difficult to speak with a parent who wants to control every situation or who consistently lectures his child or is very critical. The same may be true for a parent whose teen is hypersensitive, does not listen, shows disrespect or is uncommunicative.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to initiate communication with your child. Here are some tips to help you establish and maintain an open dialogue with your teen:
Talk with your teen. Take the time to talk about his interests, plans for the weekend, future goals, etc. and not only about tasks that he needs to do (studying, washing the dishes, cleaning his room, etc.).
Listen. Active listening is key to good communication. Teens want their parents to listen to their stories, concerns and feelings. If they feel listened to and supported, they will be more inclined to come discuss things with you.
Treat your teen with respect and don’t dismiss his feelings or opinions. Listen to your teen’s point of view with an open mind and try to find ways to discuss and acknowledge your differences without judging. Remember that your child is different from you and you need to respect him as a person, however, as his parent, he must respect you as well.
Respect his opinions and choices. It is okay to disagree without becoming derisive or mocking your child’s decisions. Adolescence can be a trying period for some teens as they are building their identity and slowly coming into their own;
Avoid lectures. If your teen’s stories spark a lecture from you, he’ll be less likely to share with you in the future. Express your concerns, but know that it’s normal for teens to want to experiment. Be up front about rules and consequences.
Spend time with your teen. Try spending quality time every day with your teen by engaging in activities that suit his age and interests. Shared experiences (meal times, going shopping, driving to school, helping them look for their first job etc.) help to build feelings of trust and respect that forms the basis for open communication. Your teen will learn that you are available to listen either when he is having a problem or when things are going well!
Ask rather than demand. Avoid the need to want to control every situation and try not to be too harsh with your teen. Instead of imposing a curfew, ask your child what time he will be home. If you believe that this is too late, try to negotiate a compromise.
Step away. If a conversation becomes too heated or emotional, it is a good idea to step away. When everyone has had the time to calm down, try to resume the dialogue.
Give your teen meaningful responsibilities. Ask your teen to perform tasks around the house; i.e. mowing the lawn, shoveling the driveway, etc. He will feel more involved in family life.
Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect parent! It is normal to feel overwhelmed at times. Step back, take a deep breath, and wait until you feel ready to deal with the situation. A sense of humou-r can also be very helpful during these times and choosing one’s battles can go a long way in maintaining a healthy and harmonious relationship with your teen!
Remember, you don’t have to go through this alone … if you require additional information or assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact the Missing Children’s Network at 514.843.4333.