As parents, we know that there are extreme versions of parenting that are not desirable. There is the helicopter parent who hovers over their child, making every decision for them, seemingly shading them from the sun, thinking that by being there they can prevent any harm or trouble coming their child’s way.
Then there is the laissez-faire parent. This parent can hardly seem concerned about the welfare of their child, setting them free out the back door at unthinkably early times, letting them graze on whatever food they can scrounge from the fridge sometimes during the day, and letting them come home long after other children are tucked in bed. Even on school nights!
Somewhere in between is the average parent who is seeking to find the balance between caring every moment for the most important person in their lives, and allowing them to grow and explore independently to develop the skills to survive adulthood.
Here are some tips that can help provide a measure of safety this summer, while allowing your child to explore a waterpark, amusement park, zoo, or other public location.
Establish ground rules for where your child can – and can’t – go
The term ground rules emerged from baseball use. Every space has its own rules for what is a home run and how much foul territory exists. This is true any place you visit.
As a parent, make clear rules about where your child can – and can’t – go without you. In many spaces it might mean moving around in one room, or one ride, or one pool. As kids get older those boundaries can expand, but should always be enforced.
Establish check-in times and locations
Once your children are old enough to spend part of their time moving about independently, they are also old enough to come back together and meet with you at appointed check in times. This can be as often as every hour (maybe at adult swim breaks popular at some pools) or might just be two or three times a day, maybe for key meals.
Either way, the child who wants to be trusted must hit these targets to build trust and a sense of safety for parent and child.
At every location, have rules for where to gather in case of an emergency. This can often be a prominent point inside the location, and another right outside.
These apply not just to emergencies for the child, but if any emergency pops up in the area, like a weather alert, an injury, or a special park announcement.
Know who to ask for help
A final piece of information your child needs to know at every location is who to ask for help. In the case that they wander too far away or they become disoriented and scared, make sure they know who works there and who they can ask for help.
These rules will help keep everyone safe and secure this summer.
Photo by Yulianto Poitier: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-and-three-children-playing-water-1231365/