Ready or not, here they come: The holidays. Along with the holiday season come the relatives and the insane schedules.

Even though the holidays are stressful, safety conversations with your child shouldn’t be. However, with recent news reports, parents are concerned and safety is on everyone’s mind. Now is the time to take a moment BEFORE things get too crazy hectic and time becomes too short, to talk to your family and create some common sense safety tips.

Safety while shopping

•Have a designated spot (e.g., a sales counter) to meet older kids if you get separated.
•Younger children should know to look for a “mom with kids” if they get lost and need to ask someone for help.
•Have younger kids practice your name and cell phone number.
•Remind kids never to leave the store, no matter what!
•Older kids should always take a friend when going to the mall and not leave the mall with anyone.
•Kids need to check first with you before going anywhere or accepting gifts.
•Never leave children unattended in a vehicle, stores, arcades, or playgrounds.

Safety during holiday parties

•Let your child chose who they wish to show affection to. Do not force them to kiss, hug or sit on someone’s lap (Santa alert!). Kids need to know they have power over their own bodies.
•Check in on kids during large gatherings. Have each adult take 20 minute “shifts” to do a quick walk through the house/yard and check on the kids to make sure that they are doing OK
•Kids should check first with a parent before going off with someone (e.g. to play video games in a bedroom or leaving the house to go play)
•If someone is making your child uncomfortable, such as with excessive tickling, hugging or wrestling, intervene on your child’s behalf to end the behavior. Your child needs to know that you will protect them.
Safety conversations with your child will be better received when you keep them short and simple. Never use scare tactics. There will be lots of interaction with family and friends, new experiences and new places. Take time to practice “what if” scenarios with your kids Taking time to talk safety with your kids will take some of the anxiety out of your holidays.