Posts Tagged: kids labels

6 Safety Tips for Kids: Teaching Them about Stranger Danger.

With spring just around the corner, chances are our kids will be asking for a little more freedom than they had last year.  If you are considering allowing them the opportunity to develop their independence by walking to their friend’s house a few streets over or taking a small unsupervised trip to the park, be sure to “Take Time For Training” before you send them on their way.

When a missing child makes the news, every parent has the same thought flash through their mind: what if that was my child? Unbearable thoughts. This is a good reminder that we should all talk to our children about street safety rules.

First, some facts for parents. Most all missing children in Canada are taken by a non-custodial parent who could not gain access through the court system. Random abductions are very rare indeed.  Canada is a very safe and friendly country.  Sadly, most harm that befalls children in our society is inflicted by their family and caregivers, not strangers.

Still, we need to teach our children safety rules and review them a couple of times a year.  Here are the rules every child should know, an abridged list from the Protective Parenting program created by one of my mentors, the late Larry Nissan.

1. I Won’t Go with Someone I Don’t Know

This is a rhyme your children should chant in their heads.  Have them say it out loud to you. Have them practice saying it out loud to another adult with assertiveness.  It’s a rule!  Children should not have to decide if a person looks like a nice person or a bad person.  It’s not their job to think, judge and assess. It’s only their job to follow the family safety rules.

2. Adults Should Seek Help from Other Adults – NOT from Children

If an adult asks for help, go get another adult to help them. That means that even if they are old and have a cast or crutches and need help carrying their groceries to their car; even if they have lost their kitten and also have a picture of that kitten – don’t help.  Here is why: adults try to trick children, so children don’t need to think about how “real” the problem looks, they only need to follow the family safety rules. Adults seek help from adults, NOT children.  If you are asked for help, tell the adult you will help, by getting your teacher, or parent or some other adult to help them.

3. Never Display Your Name

Don’t dress your child with hats and t-shirts with their names on them.  It’s easy to convince a child that the adult knows them by using the child’s name.  Put labels on the inside of clothes, out of sight, but where they can be found if needed.

4. Family Code Word

Make up a family code word that ONLY your family knows, and keep it in your heads–no writing it down on paper to remember.   If someone needs to pick up your child for you, tell them the password and then create a new one since that one is now used up. Tell your child to always ask for the password if it’s not the pre-arranged parent picking them up.

5. Take Two Steps Back

Always keep two steps back from a car.  If a car slows down and asks for directions, take TWO STEPS back from the car. You can give driving directions from the sidewalk.  NEVER get into a car for any reason. Even if it’s cold or rainy and they can drive you a few blocks home.  Not even if they say your mom was in a car accident and they are supposed to take you to the hospital to see her and she didn’t have time to give the code.  Remind them that since these can be tricky, it not their job to evaluate the safety of situations, just follow the family safety rules!


Abductors are also cowards (why else would they be doing this?) and even if they threaten you, they will not chase you if you are running through a parking lot or screaming.  If they touch you, make a scene and shout at the top of your lungs:  “This is NOT my PARENT!”  This is even the case if they hold a gun. They don’t want to fire a gun in public and be noticed.


About the Author:

Alyson Schafer

Alyson Schafer is a psychotherapist and one of Canada’s most notable parenting experts. She is the resident expert on The Marilyn Denis Show, CTV News Channel and CBC’s The World This Weekend. Alyson is an “Ask an Expert” Columnist for Today’s Parent Magazine, and sits on the Health Advisory Board for Chatelaine Magazine.  Alyson is the best selling author of “Breaking The Good Mom Myth” and “Honey, I Wrecked The Kids” and her latest, “Ain’t Misbehavin”.  She is an international speaker including the inaugural TEDxKids in Brussels and offers free parenting tips at

How to motivate an unmotivated kid.

Big brother helping little sister with homework.

I’ve always been fascinated by what makes some people super motivated, and others, not so much. I found this particularly interesting when I saw differences in motivation between my children.

Why do I have two kids who are equally clever, yet one is disappointed with a certain mark or grade in school, while the other thinks it is more than acceptable?

A few weeks ago I spent an evening holding a gun to one kid’s head forcing him to prepare for a math test taking place the next day. No gun to head, no study. Across the room was the other child busily typing on her laptop. When I asked what she was working on, the response was “I have a science test in two weeks so I’m just putting together my study notes to get a jump on things.”

Two kids – born only fifteen months apart with the same parents, same home environment, same encouragement, same role modeling, and yet so different. Why?

With no answer to that question, frustration was mounting. When you have a smart kid not working to potential, it’s enough to make any parent get twitchy. I usually rely on natural consequences – don’t study, then you fail. Better luck next time. Problem is – with this kid, doing badly doesn’t bother him too much. Not exactly what I’m looking for in a consequence.

I happen to be lucky enough to be pals with psychologist and parenting author, Alyson Schafer. She gave me a few quick tips that I’ve put into practice – and my kid and I are not as frustrated with each other.

Tip #1: Teach him the EFFORT IS NOT STUPIDITY. This is big. Whenever he actually had to TRY at something, he liked to default to “Oh well, I guess I just suck at this”. That’s a pretty easy out, so we’ve had lots of conversations trying to turn this way of thinking around.

Tip #2: Don’t dictate when he’s going to study, but task him to. Every Sunday he creates his own study plan for the week. No longer is it me nagging him to study, it’s him having to be accountable to his OWN plan.

Tip #3: Don’t argue when he thinks what he’s studying is useless. He’s likely right. Have the open conversation that there are bits of the curriculum that are outdated or won’t be relevant to him. Get on his side, but remember to teach that getting through this is all just a step to be able to have choices when it comes to post-secondary education and a career.

Do your kids have different motivation levels? How do you manage your expectations around the effort they do or don’t put into school or activities?


About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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