How do you know if your child is ready to stay home alone or ride his bike to school? By asking him. Ideally, your child should know the following twelve points before he is ever alone in public. Sit down with your child and talk about each one of the twelve points listed below from Gavin de Becker's book, Protecting the Gift.
The Test of Twelve
- Does your child know how to honor his feelings? If someone makes him uncomfortable, that's an important signal.
- Are you as the parent strong enough to hear about any experience your child has had, no matter how unpleasant?
- Does your child know it's okay to rebuff and defy adults?
- Does your child know it's okay to be assertive?
- Does your child know how to ask for assistance or help?
- Does your child know how to choose who to ask? For example, he should look for a woman to help him.
- Does your child know how to describe his peril?
- Does your child know it's okay to strike, even to injure, someone if he believes he is in danger, and that you'll support any action he takes as a result of feeling uncomfortable or afraid?
- Does your child know it's okay to make noise, to scream, to yell, to run?
- Does your child know that if someone ever tries to force him to go somewhere, what he screams should include, ''This is not my father''? Onlookers seeing a child scream or even struggle are likely to assume the adult is a parent.
- Does your child know that if someone says, ''Don't yell,'' the thing to do is yell? The corollary is if someone says, ''Don't tell,'' the thing to do is tell.
- Does your child know to fully resist ever going anywhere out of public view with someone he doesn't know, and particularly to resist going anywhere with someone who tries to persuade him?