The Damage of Scaring Kids Straight
Crippling anxiety is not the solution.
We aren't willing to waste this space to list out all or any of the terrifying things we commonly hear mothers say to attempt to scare their child into compliance.
We do understand why this happens though. We all want to keep our babies safe, and we do the best we can with what we have in order to accomplish this. Unfortunately, the suggestions found abundantly all over everywhere are misinformed, harmful and horrible.
To Scare (Someone) Straight: to shock or frighten someone so severely that their bad behavior or actions become corrected or markedly improved. - TheFreeDictionary.com
Frighten: to make afraid or fearful; throw into a fright; terrify; scare. - Dictionary.com
Does it lead to compliance? Quite often, yes; it really does. But do we want to make our children afraid? Is it an effective strategy to improve our children's safety? Absolutely not. In fact, it actually does the exact opposite. Using terror sets children up to be more easily victimized.
While terrifying our kids may lead to cooperation it, for sure, creates anxiety as well does not help our children to develop the lifesaving skills needed to enable them to trust themselves and correctly identify unsafe situations and people.
Our children need to be able to discern the difference between worry and fear. Legitimate fear is that gut instinct, our intuition, that keeps us safe. And worry is what prevents us from hearing it. Being able to hear that internal voice is detrimental to our safety and survival. Scare tactics make that less possible.
When we contribute towards our children being powerless and dependent on adults for their safety and security, we set them up to not only drown out that internal voice with anxiety and terror, but we also create incapable people. It's common to pair this crippling anxiety with faulty lessons on safe living.
When it comes to learning basic skills for keeping safe, "always" and "never" do not apply. There aren't concrete, blanket concepts that we can teach our children to guarantee their safety. "Strangers are unsafe" (Check out Stranger Danger Doesn't Work) and "family is safe" are not it (Check out Keeping Kids Safe to find out why).
While learning in terror is not effective, learning through games and fun is. Not only is it possible, but it's also more effective to introduce children to safe living in a way that's lighthearted and applicable to daily life. If you are a fun person, you can probably create your own fun games - or find some online, but if you're not or want to find ones that are tested and true- no worries.
We have instructions you can feel good about implementing. If you want to begin Arming Your Child with a Safety Plan that works today, we have a quick, simple eGuide to get you on track with a Safety Plan your child can start using now.
It feels best to see our children develop and demonstrate good judgement. Until they are at a place where we're comfortable, we keep them close and under our direct care. The Mama Bear PREPARED online course guides you through making personal decisions appropriate for your family on daily safe living.
Are there games or resources you share with your child to help them learn safe living?