Human beings tend to fear the things they can’t control. Parents are especially impacted by this, especially when it comes to their children.
Alfred Sacchetti, an emergency room doctor in Camden, New Jersey, and spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, says it’s common for parents to worry more about their child being abducted by a stranger than about his riding in a car without a seat belt or playing near an ungated swimming pool — even though car- and water-related accidents pose a far greater threat to kids than abduction.
We have gathered parents’ top 3 fears, stacked them up against the facts, and spelled out EXACTLY what you need to do to get over them!
- Great expectations
The Fear: I feel terrified that my child would not get a proper education and the right opportunities s/he deserves.
The reality: It is unquestionable that we are living in an uncertain economic crisis. Both unemployment and the cost of living are rising, while salaries are going downhill. It makes sense that parents worry about their children and how they will conquer the world. However, that doesn’t mean that you should freak out and get all paranoid about the whole future of your child when s/he is still in diapers.
What You Can Do: It is unnecessary to buy every educational toy that hits the market or fill each hour of your child’s day with enrichment and graded activities. When it comes to helping your child reach his or her potential, it turns out that less is sometimes more.
- Stranger danger
The Fear: I’m scared that someone might harm my child.
It’s not surprising that this is one of the most common fears. Protecting your child is one of the most basic parenting instincts. Our fears are only intensified by the fact that actual attacks on children get a lot of attention in the media, which can make them appear more common.
The Reality: According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center (CCRC), based at the University of New Hampshire, parents do have some cause for concern. The latest statistics of reported and confirmed instances of child mistreatment show that about 1 in 100 kids suffered mistreatment or neglect of some kind in the US.
But research by CCRC also points to good news: It turns out that the overall incidence of child mistreatment is dropping throughout North America. Child physical abuse fell 2 percent from 2008 to 2009, for example, and child sexual abuse fell 5 percent. This continues a downward trend that started in 1992 in reported abuse of children.
What You Can Do: According to Finkelhor, keeping your child safe means simply doing what comes naturally: Stay as tuned in to your child as possible. “Maintain a close and supportive relationship and keep the channels of communication open so your child will feel comfortable confiding in you if anything occurs, ” he says.
As a parent, you should be aware that most individuals of physical abuse are usually family members rather than strangers. The best way to make your child safer is to help him or her develop the tools s/he needs to protect themselves.
It is best that you educate your child based on their age about their body and the right forms of physical and verbal contact, and make them feel comfortable about opening up to you when such things happen.
- Accidents and injuries
The Fear: I’m afraid my child will be injured in a car or some other accident.
The Reality: The good news is that this is a fear you can do something about. It turns out that 40 percent of the children who died in car crashes in 2008 were unrestrained by a car seat or seat belt, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, and more than two-thirds of children fatally injured in car accidents were riding with a driver who had been drinking.
What You Can Do: A lot! Car seats, seat belts, bike helmets, and common sense precautions on the playground: Sacchetti says these simple safety measures can make a tremendous amount of difference. “I’m amazed by how many kids I see riding around in the car unrestrained or riding bikes without a helmet,” he says.
Parents should be persistent when it comes to their children using helmets when riding bikes, scooters, or skateboards from the earliest ages, so it’s something children learn to do automatically. Keep in mind that children always mimic us, so if you buckle in, so will they!