In today’s crazy society, teaching kids good habits around personal and home security is vitally important. As a locksmith, I often see that a simple security routine can be the difference between someone breaking into your home, and your kids and possessions being safe and sound.
Routines are a great way to teach younger children healthy habits. An organised and predictable home can help a child feel a sense of safety and security. Routines can help family members know who should be doing what, when and in what order and how often. This is perfect when setting up healthy habits for children regarding home security.
Here are some great routines you can start with your kids to develop healthy habits around security.
Picking up toys
This routine is excellent at teaching a number of habits. Firstly it shows that being tidy is important and everything has a place. It also reduces tripping hazards (Any parent who has stepped on a piece of LEGO will know how important this is!)
However, it can also be an opportunity to teach kids about taking responsibility of their possessions. Bicycles and outside toys are a common target for an opportunistic thief. By teaching your kids to put these things away reduces the chance that they will be stolen.
Setting up important jobs, such as picking up their toys, helps children develop a sense of responsibility as they get older.
Teach them how to lock a door properly
Most kids can be taught how to lock a deadbolt at a young age. Teach your children how a lock works and let them lock and unlock the door when they are young. Stress the importance of locking doors and windows when they are at home.
Show them how to use the alarm
Every time you leave the house, make sure the kids see you turning on the alarm. You can also create a passcode that is easy for the children to remember.
Show your children how to arm and disarm the security system. Create a routine of turning on and off the alarm every time you enter or exit your home. As the kids get older, start getting them to do it.
A great way to keep security in their mind is to have a little saying every time you leave the house. This can be something like “Doors locked? Windows locked? Alarm on? Ok, let’s go!”
Don’t answer the door or phone without an adult present
This is a common one. Make sure your children don’t answer the door or phone, particularly if they are alone.
If you do allow for your children to answer the phone while you are not home, it is always good to have some rules around doing so. These can be:
- Always take a message. Get the caller’s name and phone number.
- Never tell the caller your name, phone number or address.
- Never state that mum and dad aren’t home. Say they are busy.
If the doorbell rings, younger children should not answer the door, especially if you are not home. For older children, they should talk to the visitor through the locked door to find out what they want. They shouldn’t let anyone in unless they know them and you have said that it is fine.
If your children don’t know the person at the door, they should say that their parents are busy and can’t come to the door. If the person at the door will not go away, then they should call you, or a trusted neighbour.
For added security, consider installing a peephole so both you and your children can see who is at the door.
Teach kids how to respond in an emergency
A great idea is to teach your children how to use the phone in an emergency. Make a list of emergency numbers and stick them near the phone. These numbers can include:
- 000 (Police, Fire, Ambulance)
- You and your partner’s mobile numbers
- Nearby family members
- Trusted neighbour
Teach your kids how to call for help, and make sure they know where the emergency numbers are.
If your children are old enough, teach them how to deal with basic emergencies such as using a fire extinguisher and dousing grease fires. You can also teach them how to turn off the water mains and power to the house if they need to.
An emergency drill is a great backup to have if there is a fire or an intruder in the house. Practice the quickest path out of the house if there is an emergency. If the kids are home alone, teach them to go to the closest trusted neighbour.
Practice the drill a couple of times in the beginning and make sure the kids understand. Ask questions to reinforce ideas and create rhymes or sayings to help them remember. You can do a practice drill once or twice throughout the year to make sure the emergency drill sticks.
Consider getting involved in your local neighbourhood watch program.
Teach your children about social media
As your kids get older they will likely be very socially active online. Let them know about good safety and security habits while they are on the internet. Make sure they understand why this is important.
Kids willingness to share information can lead to home burglaries and other problematic situations that you want to avoid.
If you are going on holidays, make sure you and your children don’t mention it online. Would-be thieves can find out this information and break into your home while you and the family are away.
Make sure your children refrain from letting others know that they are home alone.
Lead by example
Children respond well to repetition, reinforcement and observation. One of the best ways to develop good habits for you kids is by setting a good example. Your child will learn most things by watching your everyday behaviour and habits.
Make sure you lock every door and window on a regular basis. This should be done every time you leave the home, or before you go to bed at night. Get the kids involved with this routine by asking them to close their bedroom windows before you leave.
Do a quick security check
In order to make sure your home is secure, conduct a security check to see how you can make your home burglar resistant. These checks can include:
- Is your front and back door of solid wood or metal construction?
- Is your alarm working?
- Are all the alarm sensors working and nothing is impeding their view?
- Is the battery in your security alarm working and charged?
- Do you have locks on all doors and windows?
- Does your home have generic security signs advertising your home is secure?
- Are all potential hiding places, such as shrubs, trimmed or removed from nearby main entrances and windows
- Are all things of value stored away, or not easily seen from outside?
A good question to ask is “If I were a burglar how would I get in?” Bring the kids along and see if their imagination can come up with something that you missed.
What routines have you created with your kids to keep your family safe and secure at home?