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Personal Safety

Parents need to be sensitive to their children's lives and the challenges they face. Making friends, dating and negotiating the many physical, emotional and social changes keep many middle years children from feeling their best. Many middle years children feel badly about themselves in some way: maybe he doesn't like his skinny arms and wishes he had made the soccer team or maybe she wishes she had a smaller nose and was a faster swimmer.

Many middle years children suffer from low self-esteem or believing they aren’t good enough. Low self-esteem can lead some children to make unhealthy decisions such as joining a gang, doing drugs, having casual sex, or trying to hurt or even kill themselves. Talking and listening to your child might provide the support he needs to get through the later middle and teen years. Other children may need additional help from a health care provider, counsellor or professional to get through these years safely.

Dating is another area that causes many parents to worry. If you are a worrier, try to relax and take deep breaths. With dating comes sexuality, strong emotions and the possibility of pressure, violence and low self-esteem. It is a great idea to speak to your older middle years child about respecting his body and himself as well as his date's body and opinions.

Respectful relationships are when both people feel comfortable, happy and can grow together. Tell your child how to show respect for her partner and ask her about her relationships. She may not want to tell you much but keeping the lines of communication open will increase her comfort if she does need to talk to you in the future.

Some middle years children may be hanging around friends or groups that make poor choices – things that might get them into trouble in school, the community or with the law. Try to meet your child’s friends and ask about their hobbies and interests. If you are concerned about your child, try to get her involved in other activities or sports that give her an opportunity to excel and belong. Speak to your child about his feelings, his friends and his life.

If you believe that your middle years child is thinking about suicide, cutting his body or harming herself in any way, speak to a counsellor, health care provider or professional who can help. It’s also a good idea to talk to your child about his feelings and thoughts. Tell your child how important and wonderful she is to you, her friends and family. Your child needs to know that you love him, that dark times pass, and that you will help him get through this time.

Domestic violence, when violence happens at home, all family members are affected. Family violence – from threats and intimidation to physical abuse and bullying – undermines the physical and mental health of all family members even if they are not directly abused themselves. Family violence doesn't tend to go away or get better over time, but help is available. Tell your child what he can do to protect himself in different situations. It's also a good idea to talk to him about sleepovers, strangers, appropriate touching, bullying, street safety, and gun safety.

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