As parents, we would love it if our children could be babies forever, but at some point, they do grow up and eventually reach their teenage years. The trick is to form a healthy relationship with your teen, so you can provide guidance with the hopes that they practice what you preach. Today, we will talk about five major issues for teens and how you can keep your precious children safe.
Safety At School
While your teen is typically safe when they are at school, there are some areas where they may need guidance. One of the most significant threats is the potential for bullying. Other kids can be mean and say things that could hurt your teen on a deep level. In addition to telling your teens that true friends will never make them feel bad, you also need to ensure that you and your child engage in healthy communication. Parents should feel confident that their teens will come to them if they are faced with uncomfortable situations at school, and your child should know that you will be there for them. So, make sure to have that conversation. You may also support and donate to an anti-hate youth engagement program that advocates for acceptance and diversity. It would also be a great idea to have your kids involved in various NYPD youth education programs.
It is also important to ensure that your children are safe while going to and coming from school. Parents can take the time to look at the best routes that their children should take to get from place to place so they can avoid dangerous parts of town. Look at crime statistics, and if there is a lot of crime in your area, then consider driving your teen to school or ensure they drive with someone you trust.
Finally, give your teen a plan for if there is an emergency at school. Teach them to find cover or an authority figure to help them through the situation and to call home when they can.
Teens love to spend time with their friends, and while you are likely glad that they found companionship, not everybody will have the best intentions. It is important to teach your kids about the difference between a healthy and toxic relationship.
A toxic friendship is one where the other person doesn’t listen to you or your concerns. They may not take you seriously and blame you when things go wrong. Encourage your teens to find healthy friendships where there is a give and take, and the friend wants to be with your kid because they genuinely like them and don’t have an alternative motive.
It is also very important to teach your teens about the dangers of peer pressure. Many young people may get into situations where they are pressured to try drugs, alcohol, or do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. Remind your children that they do not need to do anything that makes them feel unsafe and that they can call you anytime they feel threatened, and you will come running.
Alcohol is a particularly dangerous problem because it can influence your children to do things they wouldn’t do otherwise. Drinking can also be dangerous for their physical health. Excessive drinking can impair the immune system, so you get sick easier, and it can also affect your kidneys, which could lead to even more serious ailments down the road.
Again, having a good relationship with your teens is key, so you can ask them if they think they have a true friend or if they are in a toxic relationship — and get a real answer in return.
Your teen may also start finding themselves in more romantic relationships during these years, and again, you need to be the voice of reason. Refer back to the advice you gave about differentiating between healthy and toxic relationships before they escalate that relationship to another level. Tell your kids about consent and ensuring that they are on the same page with their partner so that no one is uncomfortable or put in a dangerous situation.
When you know they are approaching that age, take some time to talk to them about safe sex and be honest about the ramifications of not being careful, including sexually transmitted diseases.
Also, take some time to inform your kids about the dangers of sexting with their partners. That is when they send pictures or sexual messages over the phone. Inform them that not only can sexting lead to unsafe encounters, but if they are caught by an authority figure or another parent, then their future could be in jeopardy, and they could lose jobs or the opportunity to go to the college of their choice.
While you are talking about the dangers of peer pressure and alcohol, also discuss the serious risk of drinking and driving. At this age, they shouldn’t be drinking, but if they do, then inform them never to get behind the wheel to prevent car accidents. Instead, they should call you and will pick them up.
Distracted driving, in any sense, should be avoided at all costs. Tell your teens never to drive with too many people in the car and to ensure that they always have a proper seat with their own seat belt before they go anywhere. Also, advise them of the dangers of texting while driving. Help your teens to set up the hands-free settings on their phones, so if they must call while on the road, they can do so without reaching for their phone.
Finally, teach your kids about proper maintenance and how to keep their vehicle in good working order. Give them a hands-on demonstration of how to check the oil and windshield wiper fluid. Also, educate them on the importance of car insurance and the monthly cost and deductible that they may need to pay if they are in an accident. Putting your teen in charge of their own insurance costs may cause them to be more cautious drivers.
During the course of their day, your teen may also spend a lot of time online, so educate them on the many threats, including cyberbullying, phishing scams, and the damage they can do to their eyes if they look at their screens for too long.
Encourage your kids to have a healthy relationship with technology, where they spend time looking at things they like, but they also enjoy the world around them. As parents, don’t be afraid to check your teen’s social media profiles and the settings of their apps to ensure that they aren’t sharing personal information and talking to unsavory strangers online.
As you can see, there is a lot that parents can do to protect their teens and help them to live happy lives. Consider these five teaching moments, and you’ll be doing your part to raise a responsible child.