As a parent, you have been through many ups and downs with your teens, celebrated milestones, comforted heartache, and no matter how old they are, you’ll never stop making their safety your number one priority. While infants and younger children need your constant care and attention, teenagers need far less, making it hard to connect at times without seeming like an overbearing “helicopter” parent. However, as the parent, your teenager’s well-being is still your responsibility (although he or she is partly responsible, too) and there are ways to ensure his or her safety without taking total control.
In theory, school should be one of the safest places for your teen, but sadly, that’s not always the case. We’ve all seen the news and read the tragic headlines of violence taking place in schools. While you can’t prevent a violent act from occurring at your teen’s school, you can prepare them for what to do in a dangerous situation. For example, if your teen encounters a classmate bragging about bringing a weapon to school, it’s important to teach your teen how to handle a potentially dangerous situation. While many teens don’t want to be put in a situation where they will be viewed as a “snitch”, help your teen devise a safe plan when such a situation occurs (such as who to talk to, who he or she can trust, how to get away).
On the Roadways
Handing over the keys to your newly licensed teen driver may be one of the most difficult decisions in a parent’s life, but if you set rules (such as driving curfews) and make your expectations known, your teen is more likely to stay safe on the roadways. Even if your teen isn’t behind the wheel, he or she must know how to stay safer on the roads. Have a honest discussion about the potential dangers of driving by mentioning distracted driving and how to safely operate a vehicle year round. Even though teens are part of the “risky” demographic of drivers, with proper instruction, they don’t need to become a statistic.
After school Activities
When teens engage in extracurricular activities it not only boosts their social lives, but is also an essential for college applications and job resumes. After school activities may mean that you rarely see your teen during the week, but it’s still important that he or she is safe. If your son or daughter is enrolled in a team sport, make sure his or her participation is safe, such as use of safety gear like helmets or protective eye-wear. Failure to follow proper protocol can greatly increase his or her chance of being injured or receiving a traumatic brain injury. A good way to ensure your teen’s safety is by expressing any concerns to the coach and attending games or matches when you are able, so you can witness how injuries are treated.
Unfortunately, peer pressure will never go away. Even if your teen is “well-adjusted” and doesn’t seem easily persuaded by others, it doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t being pressured by peers to partake in unsafe behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, or even engaging in unsafe driving. While you can’t follow your teen around, warding off all overwhelming pressures, the best thing you can do is be there for your teen and make sure he or she knows that you are available for any kind of conversation (no matter how difficult). Discuss the dangers of engaging in underage drinking or drug use and consequences that he or she may face. It always seems to be easier said than done, but encourage your teen to “walk away” from a situation that seems unsafe.
Your teen probably spends more time online than he or she does talking to you and with smartphones, the internet is always just a quick tap away. While the internet can be a treasure trove of useful and educational information, it’s also a place full of cyberbullies, exploitation, and nasty gossip. Chances are that your teen is more tech savvy than you are, but it’s still important to have a discussion about internet safety, whether your teen is open to the discussion or not. Just like you would with other activities, such as driving, set rules and expectations for your teen’s internet use. Have frequent discussions about what he or she is browsing on the internet and be aware of what apps he or she uses.