It is likely that your child will encounter a police officer or EMT in early life. Hopefully, this experience will not be the result of danger or trauma, but regardless of the circumstances, an unknown person can cause a child to be concerned. Talking to children about community helpers is a simple thing to do that will benefit them greatly. Here is why and how to introduce the conversation.
Who Are Community Helpers?
While many people think of police, firefighters, and medical personnel as community helpers, the category is much broader. In reality, a community helper is anyone who lives in a community and works to help the community at large. This could include bus drivers, teachers, mail carriers, and librarians. Each of these people has a specific set of duties that better the public life. Community helpers also frequently have jobs that require special identification, uniforms, or tools.
Why Do Children Need to Know?
Part of the role of parents is to prepare children for potentially dangerous situations. This includes emergency plans, identifying information, and how to find help if necessary. This preparation is essential for your child’s safety. In the same vein, we teach children to recognize community helpers so that if they need emergency assistance, they know who to trust. We spend a significant amount of time teaching our children not to blindly trust people they don’t know. We also must educate them about community helpers so that they can discern between unknown individuals and those who are there to help.
How to Approach the Topic
You will likely have many opportunities to naturally teach your child about community helpers. For example, if you are visiting the Greenville public library, take a moment to explain the librarians’ job, how to recognize staff members, and ways that they help the community. In the same way, you can point out police, firefighters, or medical professionals when you see them in public. Use these little opportunities to acclimate your child to the roles community helpers play in your world.
While understanding community helpers’ jobs will certainly help your child feel comfortable, it is also important to explain the roles they would play in an emergency. Once your child is old enough to learn your family’s emergency plan, be sure to also explain to them that community helpers are often present to help in the case of an emergency. For example, when you teach your child your phone number, also remind them how to find someone to trust if they get lost (someone in uniform or with a name tag, for example). This gives them the tools they need to be safe if they are separated from you.
Hands-On Ways to Learn
One of the best ways to help your child become comfortable around community helpers is through positive exposure. When you encounter such people, keep a positive attitude and show an example of kindness. Thank your mail carrier and your doctor and nurses. Wave to emergency personnel when you encounter them in calm moments. Your child is watching your responses and will learn a lot from your example.
If you want to further encourage your child to be comfortable with community helpers, consider visiting local locations where community helpers work. Fire stations are frequently available for tours and taking cookies to the firefighters would make everyone’s day. The same is true for police stations, post offices, and hospitals. Just call ahead to find out if there are time constraints or other restrictions for visitors. These in-person encounters allow children to ask questions, see community helpers as real people, and become more comfortable with them.
Our towns and neighborhoods are abundantly safer and more comfortable because of the work completed by community helpers. And most importantly, your child will be safer and more comfortable in the case of an emergency if they are aware and accepting of the role these helpers play. If you are looking for childcare that will partner with you in teaching your child about their community and world, please consider Legacy Academy Greenville. Call or visit today for more information.