parent and teach safe kids

Is Your Child a Free Range Child? Were you one?


Years before she became a celebrated speaker, author Lenore Skenazy learned that I was writing about teaching safety, and actually wrote and called me, or maybe I called her…can’t remember…. She was in a hot debate
As the World’s Worst Mom for letting her son take the New York Subway alone.

Since then I have stayed in communication with her, not always agreeing but totally supportive of the outcome we both believe in, empowered healthy kids, who know how to take care of themselves, given basic safety guidance.

We both believe that it is the parents who have become afraid, and then affected their children with the same fears. It reminds me of the parents of students I had over the years
Who were not allowed to have pets, because they could bite or scratch them.

Things I worry about.
Children sitting in front of a screen, your pick, tv, iPad, computer, video game, etc.
Children not playing in a group, riding bikes, running around with squirt guns, and water balloons, and basically laying outside, until they are really tired.
How many of us played outside? How many obese kids did you know who played outside?

I went to camp for 3 months , a whopping three thousand miles from home, when I was 8,9, 10 and 11. There was some supervision you bet, but I was not under constant surveillance. I learned to swim, ride a horse, raise a calf, feed the cows, new games, adventure, learned to Bail hay, camped and sang around a campfire…made homemade peach ice cream…picked blue berries in the White Mountains…..the best summers of my life.

I was always hungry at supper time , always happily tired at night and skinny as a rail.
I never once felt unsafe or afraid.

Even at home, we always played till dark or until our Mom whistled.

So why am I telling you all this?
I wrote a book to teach children how to be alert to behaviors, what to do if faced with bad behavior and what I had hoped to gain is empowerment for parents as well as children.

I have not seen the study Lenore discusses, with Forty year low in kidnappings,
But safety is so much more than that. It is teaching kids common sense and resourcefulness.
Think about the girl and boyscouts. Don’t they end up earning badges in being resourceful?
Knowing what to do when faced with situations, commonly called, life?

Yes, there will always be bad behavior with humans, from the playground to the grave.
But keeping a child locked up, or in a parade of careful scheduled activities is not the answer.

When you give my book, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?, 20131228-075925.jpgto a teacher, a new parent for a baby shower, to a friend, you are not just hoping to help their children become safe people, but the actual teaching of the kids then allows that parent to allow their child to become “Free Range.”
If parents each felt they have helped to develop a child into an empowered
Human being, you will see more children, emerging from their air conditioned homes,
Asking each other to go and play!


Where is Isabel?

Where is Little Isabel?
While we wait to hear, take a few minutes to begin teaching safety to your children, grandchildren and students. It is something you can do now, and someday might allow them to save thier lives.

Teach Them the Drill
EMERGENCY! Teach your family the drill!
Won’t it just scare them……?
Not if you do a good job. That goes for teaching any safety lesson. Think empowerment!
Remember, not knowing what to do is really scary!
Pick yourself a safety emergency word, make one up or do what I did, use a foreign word for danger that couldn’t be accidentally used.
Here are a few scenarios……they may never be applicable, you pick what you need.
1) Tornado coming-
A trusted family member yells warning- no lost time- family goes directly into their drill. Practice makes perfect. Take turns scattering family members around home area, trusted adult yells emergency word, family responds…..make it a game, discuss any problems. Children are great at contributing their ideas. ( I had a certain blogging Mom in mind here!)
2) Home Invasion-
(About a mile from our home, two men were shot during a home invasion last week. It has been years since we had this kind of activity in our town. ) Growing up my daughters had their drill, if they heard our emergency word in the house, there has been a home invasion, get out your window, over the fence, and to the neighbors. That was our drill, you will make your own. You will have no time, they need to trust, and act. Naturally, if you can get your children out of the house, you can then focus on saving yourself, your spouse, etc. Like all of my safety lessons I remind people that the people with the bad behavior, the bad guys, have no idea you are yelling to save your kids. They have no idea your children are busy saving themselves. We used a Japenese word at home. I don’t know why, but I picked Japenese…..I wouldn’t have used a Spanish word, most Californians can speak some Spanish.
3) Car-jacking-
This happens! If a car hits you from behind, check, this could be a carjacking. If you think it’s a carjacking I’m counting on your observation skills and intuition (say you see “kids”getting out of their car)….. You can start by, not stopping, call 911. Personally, I would drive to a safe place. Remember your cars usually have an alarm, use it!
That being said, here’s where I would have made the wrong decision.
This happened a block from my daughter’s home just a few weeks ago. I probably would have gotten out, it was a car full of young girls, a block from the university. Wrong, it was a car jacking, go figure! We are all still learning!
If you are parked, getting gas, perhaps,
A) No kids, hit alarm button then throw those keys, yelling,” take it!” Grab what you can, me, I’ve got my wallet, and yelling, run to a safe place with safe people and call for help.
B) Got Kids? Hit the alarm button, Then you may have to use your emergency word. Yell your word. Older kids able to get out of seatbelts, do, and if possible, unbuckle siblings. Then get out and run to a safe place. Your job, keep the attention of the assailant! Then throw the keys as far away from the car as you can, yelling, “take my car! Not my kids!” this is a huge heads up to the good people, who are everywhere! You always want to get attention. The bad guys really hate alot of attention! Open the doors, evacuate the kids, run……
A little aside, don’t carry lots of cash, or credit cards, be sensible. The ones you do carry keep a copy of both sides of those cards at home so you can call them in if stolen.
Okay, so now you know what’s been happening in my little university town……..usually it is all good , but the gangs in CA really do have us more aware of our surroundings, watching out more for ourselves, our families and our neighbors.
Think safety……Just keep an eye on what your family needs. Keep on top of current events in your town, or area. Like all of safety education, having a plan is less scary than not having one.
My children never had to hear our emergency word. But they did know how to save themselves, and are now smart, secure and aware parents.


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Attend your local Safety Fair together.

Play and ride bikes in groups for safety.

Stay in parent approved areas.

Wear a whistle when alone and If you are in trouble blow it.
If you are lost while camping, blow it and sit down in the shade to wait!
You will be looked for!

While walking keep an eye on what is going on around you
in front, back, and side to side. If you ever sense danger,
Run to a safe place, with a safe person and tell!

NEVER wear two ear buds while walking
You need all of your senses! Drop one while out of doors.
Compromise, safe and sound!

Stay away from cars parked with people inside.

This is just a trick, responsible adults find other adults to help them.

Wishing you all a safe summer!

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What Should You Do?
Helping Children Protect Themselves in the Twenty-First Century
2010 Tate Publishing
By Melinda Reynolds Tripp


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Last Friday,  a young Mommy, a wonderful member of my extended family, asked her four year old, (five next week,) to go get the family sand shovels up at their towels…..and when she looked up from her two year old to see him coming back..nothing.

She saw a sea of people, towels, but her son was nowhere in sight.

The mother ran directly to the lifeguard station, the mother said , “No,” to this bad situation, she ran to get help from a safe person, the lifeguard, and told. Yes, she used her own learned safety plan.

The young man took the information, radioing the lifeguards along the beach, and then they heard crying.

Behind the lifeguard station they find her son, alone, crying.

Parents, Teachers,

Please don’t let these teachable moments pass you by.

Even if you believe that your child understands his safety plan, saying no to a scary situation (ie;lost)

Going quickly to a safe adult, and telling.  If he could not find the lifeguard station a second choice is to teach your child to  find a mom with children and ask for help.

She was so sweet to share her “scared mom story”

…….and I pass it along, for you to use as your own reminder.