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What If?

How “What If” Can Keep Your Child Safer

In the safety presentations I give for parents of elementary students and younger, I always advise asking a bunch of “what if” questions regularly to help our children hone their safety skills. 

I encourage parents to make it into a game and keep it playful. 

I share a few examples. 

But I’ve never created a more thorough list to get parents started.

So, when I was recently asked for this from a parent in one of my workshops, I thought: “What a great idea to create just such a resource!” 

Below are 10 “what-if” style questions that you can use to make safety fun and engaging with your kids.  They are a mix of realistic and fantastical, and the idea here is to ask a few questions a week (it doesn’t need to be more than that), in order to keep it light and interesting—the last thing we want to do is fill our kids with fear.  

  1. If you get lost at the grocery store, what’s the first thing you would do? [Correct answer: Stop moving.]
  2. If you were outside playing and a spaceship showed up, and asked if you wanted a ride, what would you do? [Correct answer: Check in with my safe adult first.]
  3. If we were at the zoo and you suddenly couldn’t find me, who would you ask for help: Miss Piggy, Mr. Rogers, or Cookie Monster?  [Correct answer: Miss Piggy—we always ask women first because statistically they are safer—sorry guys.]
  4. If you were at the park and a really nice looking man told you that he had a bunch of puppies in the back of his truck and needed some help walking them, what would you do? [Answer check in with my safe adult first.]
  5. What if someone you know asked you to keep a secret? [Correct answer: tell my safe adult—we keep surprises, not secrets!]
  6. What if someone asked to show the parts of their body covered up by a bathing suit? [Correct answer: Say no and tell my safe adult.]
  7. What if you saw something on the computer/internet that gave you an uh-oh or icky feeling?  [Correct answer: Walk away/turn it off and tell my safe adult]
  8. What if another child at the park said they had extra lollipops and offered you one? [Correct answer: check in with my safe adult first.]
  9. What if you were getting ready to walk home from school, but it was pouring rain and our neighbor ____ offered to give you a ride? [Correct answer: Check in with my safe adult first.]
  10. What would you do if someone was tickling or massaging you too long and didn’t like it?  [Correct answer: Tell them to stop and tell my self adult.]

This is just a starter list, of course… note that it’s a mixture of silly and serious, but that each question gets at an important safety tool.  The idea is to get creative, keep it light, and pass along important safety tools at the same time. 

What questions would you add to the list?  Email me to share!

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Christy Keating is a certified parent coach,  positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.

The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.