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PEI Kids > What You Need to Know > Parents & Caregivers > Learn how this will help keep them safe

Learn how this will help keep them safe

Validating Kids’ Instincts Will Keep Them Safe

This is an excerpt from a book called Safe Kids Safe Families. Please note that the printing of this material does not constitute an endorsement of the book by PEI Kids. We are grateful to Samantha for allowing PEI Kids to print this excerpt.

I’m sure you have heard that listening to your instincts can keep you safe from potential harmful situations. It’s absolutely true and the more “in-tune” your kids are to their instincts, the safer they will be.

But how do you teach kids about their instincts, listening to them and most importantly to trust them?

The key is twofold. First, you must start young (as early as infancy) and second you must resist dismissing their instinctive reactions by explaining that they may just be tired, being silly or any other reason for not immediately validating their feelings.

Babies haven’t developed sophisticated responses to their feelings, nor have they learned to ignore their personal alarms. In fact, a baby’s instincts are as pure and in tune as they can possibly be. Your child has fully developed instincts from the moment they are born. They may not be able to tell you in words how they feel but they will alert you to the fact that they are “feeling” something.

Consider this example:
As a new parent, you want to show off your beautiful baby to the world. People are always asking to hold her and, being the proud parent, you are happy to oblige.

However, not all babies love to be held by everyone who asks. Simply being placed in an unknown person’s arms may cause them to squirm, scream, wail, and whatever else is necessary to convince you that they are feeling uncomfortable.

Now, here’s the part that even I have been guilty of. You place your new bundle of joy into someone’s arms and she completely freaks out. It is obvious that she is not comfortable. Instead of validating her feelings and responses, you feel embarrassed and you politely try to explain that she was just a bit fussy. You may even tell the person holding her to walk with her, or give her a soother—anything to stop the crying.

Pretty soon, you give up and take your screaming bundle of joy back into your arms and she abruptly stops crying. Had she screamed because she didn’t like the person, did she sense something was wrong, or was she just trying to make you understand what she needed? Maybe she was just wanted to feel safe, and needed you to respond to her feelings. It doesn’t mean that the person who was holding her is dangerous—it simply means that your child did not want to be with them.

You listen to your baby’s cries for food, sleep, or a clean diaper; now just expand your understanding of what makes her uncomfortable to include people. Don’t worry if your children are no longer infants; it is not too late. Start immediately.

By dismissing or minimizing children’s intuitive communication, you will only teach them to dismiss their feelings later in life. And it is later in life, when you are not by their side, that they will need it most.

Samantha Wilson is the founder of an organization called Kid Proof. Wilson, a
former police officer, has been a guest on both television and radio shows about child safety issues and her expert advice has appeared in many newspapers and magazines. To read more of Samantha’s articles, visit

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