A Parent's Handbook

Parenting is the most influential responsibility an adult undertakes in life. It is also one job for which adults receive the least amount of training.
Society expects parents to know everything!!
However, society does not provide parents the tools and skills they need to live up to their expectations. All parents need a little advice every now and then.
ANGELS Social Development & Research Association brings this handbook to guide you further.

1From decades, it has been seen that by virtue of their physical sizes, adults have power on children – and that increases a child’s vulnerability.
For example: Parents or Guardians teach their children to “obey adults”. When children get this message, they may interpret it to mean that all adults have authority to tell all children what to do, all the time. If this is a child’s interpretation, then the message has created additional vulnerability for the child. Yet, some simple, common sense steps can help minimize a child’s vulnerability.
For example:
• Do NOT insist that children hug or kiss relatives or friends. Let children express affection on their own terms.
• Let children know that their feelings are important to you. Intervene if you notice that your child is uncomfortable doing something that another adult asks him or her to do.
• Let the child know that you will protect him or her from this discomfort. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should let children off the hook when it comes to doing their chores or cleaning up a mess they’ve made.
2 Learn to recognize and take advantage of teachable moments with children. Be willing to openly discuss sensitive issues.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following age-appropriate conversations with children:
• From ages 18 months to 3 years—begin teaching children the proper names for all body parts.
• Ages 3 to 5 years—teach children about private body parts and how to say “no” to anyone who touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Give them direct answers to questions about sex.
• Ages 5 to 8 years—talk about good touches and bad touches, and safety away from home.
• Ages 8 to 12 years—focus on personal safety issues.
• Ages 13 to 18 years—discuss issues such as rape, date rape, HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases, and unintended pregnancy. There are also professionals in the community who can provide assistance with forming age-appropriate responses to children’s questions and concerns.
Remember, regardless of the child’s age: Take advantage of teachable moments.
3Games are a great way to reinforce the lessons you teach your children about safety issues.
For example: Children are always asking parents, “What if?”
Using this same game, parents can raise their own concerns and encourage their children to think and make decisions relying on the lessons they have learned.
4Teach children to say, “NO,” to instructions that might encourage them to do things that they really do not want to do.
Reinforce the rule that children should say, “NO,” to requests or demands that make them uncomfortable, even if they think they should obey. A discussion of these rules can teach a child that there are some times when it is okay to say, “NO,” and other times when it is okay to go along with the instructions. Everything hinges on context. Parents must teach their children how to discern between an appropriate request and an inappropriate request.
For example: It is appropriate to follow the instruction to “Be nice,” as long as the instruction is within an appropriate context, such as, “Be nice and don’t throw things at the other children.” But, tell children it’s okay to disobey this request if, for example, someone says, “Be nice and take off your clothes.”
5Know where children spend their time.
Get to know the adults who show up at the various locations in the community where children gather and where they play together. Be wary of any adult who seems more interested in creating a relationship with a child than with other adults. Pay attention, when an adult seems to single out a particular child for a relationship or for special attention.
Warning signs include treats, gifts, vacations, or other special favors offered only to one specific child.
6Make unannounced visits to the child’s nursery, babysitter, daycare center, or school.
When choosing a nursery, daycare center, or school, make sure that there are no areas where children play or work that are “off limits” to parents. Taking these actions raises awareness among caregivers, and reinforces the responsibility they have for the safety of the children in their charge.
7Find out if the child’s school or church religious education programs include a sex abuse prevention curriculum.
If not, volunteer to be on a committee to establish such a program. Work with teachers to review available programs and make recommendations to school administrators. Talk with other parents about supporting the addition of child sexual abuse prevention material to existing child safety programs.
• Do NOT allow a child to go alone on “vacation” with any adult other than the child’s parent.
• Do NOT allow a child to spend the night alone with any adult other than the child’s parent or another safe adult.
• Except in the case of a serious emergency, Do NOT allow a child to travel alone—even for a very short distance—with any adult other than the child’s parent or another safe adult.
You should also prohibit children from accepting expensive gifts from an adult, particularly if one child is singled out for special attention.

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