Author: Rachel Visser, Prevention & Education Coordinator
Gingerbread houses. Twinkling lights on homes in your neighborhood. Snow falling softly as the family sits and watches a holiday movie. That’s right folks, the holidays are here! The festive spirit and overall feeling of joy puts a smile on many of our faces. But as with any season, engaging in prevention activities to keep our children safe and healthy is just as important! KIDS Center is here to offer prevention tips that can ease the stress of the holidays.
- Model consent over the holidays. Ask kids if they want a hug instead of assuming. Or perhaps they’d prefer a high five instead of giving a kiss goodbye. You can even go a step further and have a conversation with family members and friends letting them know how your child will be choosing how to say “hello” and “goodbye”. Explain that your child has choices about his body.
- Minimize the opportunity for isolated 1-on-1 situations. Enjoy group activities like playing board games or watching a holiday movie. 80% of sexual abuse incidences happen in isolated 1-on-1 situations. Additionally, this will create a time where family and friends can bond, a very important protective factor for your children.
- Your kids might not be in school, but they’re still online. Talk with your kids about internet safety and screen time. Set limits as to how much time they can spend, daily, on a screen, and encourage them to find activities that are off screen and engage different parts of their brain. You can also find time to sit with your child and have them teach you how to play their favorite online game. This empowers them to be the expert and it shows you are interested in what they find fun and are aware of what they are doing online. It is all about balance!
- Lend a helping hand. Offer to watch children of your friends or family members, allowing them to finish seasonal shopping or errands with a little less stress. If you have the capacity to watch a little one, or two, extending this service to a caregiver who might be a little frazzled this time of year can lessen the risk of a child feeling the backlash of a caregiver’s stress.
- It’s okay to say no. You don’t have to go to every holiday party or family gathering. Make sure you put the best interests of your child/family at the forefront of the season. Sometimes family gatherings can be a time of tension depending on family dynamics. Allow yourself the ability to set boundaries that are healthy and conducive to your family’s well-being. This can also be a time to start your own family traditions!
Make this holiday season one of fun, safety, and cheer!