Every parent or guardian learns a valuable lesson within their kids’ first years.
Children should know how to protect themselves as early as possible.
Not because you plan on leaving them to their own devices.
But because you can’t be there, watching them every minute.
All disaster ever needed to strike is a few unmonitored moments.
Protecting your child also means teaching them to protect themselves.
With a few necessary survival skills, they’ll always know how to find their way out of adverse situations.
If they need you, but cannot find you, these lessons can make a huge difference in how certain events unfold.
Ready to get started?
Here are 21 urban survival skills for kids.
21 Urban Survival Skills for Kids
Internet use by children is unavoidable.
It’s where they watch shows, learn, play games, and interact with their friends.
Because they are confident in their digital skills, it may be difficult for some kids to tell when they are in danger.
Teach your kids about the dangers lurking on the internet.
Make sure they know not to share any personal information, even with their ‘friends’.
Also, teach them how to shut down conversations once someone pressures them to share personal information or pictures.
In the modern era, being social media savvy is one of the most essential urban survival skills for kids.
2. How to handle elevator malfunctions
Elevator malfunctions are rare, but they still happen.
You must tell your child about the possibility of this event.
If they are caught unaware, they may experience an anxiety attack or intense fear of the unknown.
The first lesson should be to keep calm.
Next, they should press the elevator emergency button to alert maintenance.
If they have a network signal, they should also call the emergency police number and state the issue.
3. Knowing who to trust
Kids are usually accepting of anybody and everybody.
While this is an admirable trait, it is essential to teach them early enough to be distrustful of strangers.
In general, they should avoid interacting with anyone they do not know.
Teach them how to affirm disinterest.
For example, if someone asks them to do something, they should know to say “No” and “I don’t want to”.
Their courage, alone, could be enough to dissuade someone with harmful intent.
This video by The Wiggle Tales could help your kid understand the lesson better.
4. First aid
Kids love to help out, and they should be able to.
Knowing how to fix up themselves and their friends could come in handy.
Some basic first aid lessons are how to treat a bumped head, how to fix a scrape or bruise, and how to identify a big injury that needs immediate attention.
You can also teach CPR to children who are nine years old and above.
Even with the lessons, you must enforce a rule that they inform you every time they get hurt.
You may recognize some damage that they may miss with their basic training.
5. What to do when lost
Children often get separated from their guardians, especially in crowded areas.
Usually, they are spotted within seconds.
However, if your child gets lost, they should know what to do.
Ensure that your child memorizes your full name, phone number, and home address.
Make it into a sing-song, if possible.
Teach them to only approach people in uniforms (including store attendants) for help.
They should not approach plain-clothed strangers.
Finally, they should not leave the immediate area where they got separated from you.
Assure them that you will always come looking for them.
6. How to escape a riot
Large cities often experience riots from both peaceful and non-peaceful protesters.
Lay the rules strictly on this one because such events can get out of hand quickly.
They should never go into the riot, even if it’s on their way home.
Their first response should be to get out of the way of rioters.
If the group doesn’t seem to be moving, they should approach a police officer for help. Whenever there is a riot, police officers are usually deployed to the scene.
Tell your kid to find the officer furthest from the event and ask for help.
7. Finding a family or friend’s house when needed
If you have family or close friends within the city, teach your child how to get to their places.
Show them bus or train routes and stops.
It’s highly unlikely, but if they are ever on the opposite side of town alone, it could be helpful to find a familiar face.
Of course, make it clear that they should not be traveling alone.
This should serve as an ‘in case of emergency’ option.
8. Finding the nearest exit
Most schools teach kids fire drills, but it won’t hurt to practice at home.
The idea is to ensure that your child knows how to get out quickly and safely.
Show them the emergency exits in all the buildings you frequent.
You can even make a game out of it.
Whenever you visit somewhere new, ask if they can point out the emergency exits.
With this experience, they’ll learn the signs of finding an exit in any building.
You can also practice fire drills at home to reinforce the verbal lessons.
9. How to hide
As adults, we often freeze in the face of danger.
Children will react the same way unless previous training kicks in.
One crucial part of this training is knowing how to hide well.
If your child is ever in a dangerous situation where they cannot run outside, this could help.
Take your hide and seek playtime seriously.
They should learn the art of crawling into small spaces, keeping still, controlling their breath, and staying calm through the excitement or fear.
10. Knowing what gunshots sound like
Unfortunately, gun violence is a growing concern.
This could happen anywhere; in school or in a busy mall.
As sensitive as this issue is, it could be helpful to teach your child about gunshots sounds.
Before initiating these lessons, have an honest conversation about what you’re exposing them to.
Prepare them for what these sounds will mean.
They don’t need to see the guns being shot.
They can listen to audio files.
Here’s a clean video with recordings of different weapons being reloaded, put off safety, and shot.
11. What to do in the case of a shooting
It is vital to approach this lesson without paranoia or fear.
Kids are impressionable, and if you’re scared, they could become scared too.
Speak honestly about how it’s unlikely, but they could one day witness a shooting.
Answer their questions, but avoid giving graphic responses.
Once this is out of the way, give them a basic response procedure to being caught in a shooting.
In a country like the US, kids are already being taught shooting drills in schools.
In this case, reinforce what they’ve been taught in school to avoid conflicting decisions for them.
12. Basic self-defense
Kids should know how to defend themselves from bullies and strangers who may get too close for comfort.
Make it clear that self-defense is not the same thing as fighting.
They should never attack anyone unless they are physically threatened.
If you don’t have enough experience to teach self-defense, take them to classes.
Martial arts lessons serve as a good starting point.
Kids as young as four years old can join a martial arts class.
13. How to scare kidnappers away
As much as possible, make your child repellent to kidnappers.
Teach them that kidnappers look like everyday strangers, so they should trust no one.
Don’t put their names on any of their items (such as backpacks).
Encourage them to scream “stranger danger” as loud as they possibly can if they ever feel threatened by a stranger.
It’s better to be safe than polite.
Choose a family code word that is as weird as possible.
If anyone ever approaches them claiming to be sent by you, they must know the code word.
If the stranger does not know the code word, your kid should move away immediately and seek out security personnel.
Finally, teach them to use these tips to watch out for their friends too.
14. How to call the police
This is one of THE most important urban survival skills for kids.
Your child must know the police emergency number for your country.
If they are in trouble, or they see you in trouble, they should call in immediately.
Be sure to explain what falls under ‘trouble’, because kids can get creative.
Tell them that the police are always happy to help to reduce their anxiety about calling an unknown number.
Make sure you give a physical demonstration of how to call the police number.
If you’re in the US, the number is 9-1-1.
Telling them “nine eleven” could leave a small child confused as there is no eleven on the keypad.
15. How to manage their resources
Resources such as water and phone battery are essential.
Teach your kids the importance of managing what they have and making plans for later.
Unplanned delays happen all the time.
They should never be stuck with a dead phone battery and no way to communicate with you or others urgently.
16. How to manage their anger and fear
People who do not understand how to manage their anger and fear often act out impulsively.
This extends to children too.
There are certain situations where knowing how to take control of how they feel will be essential to their survival.
Teach your child that their negative emotions are just as important as the positive once.
Instead of feeling consumed, they need to identify what that feeling is trying to indicate and work through it.
This is a lifelong training, but you can begin as soon as possible.
Your child’s ability to think through negative emotions could be helpful in a fight or flight situation.
17. How to climb a tree
When it comes to urban survival skills for kids, you may not automatically think of trees.
Climbing trees can be a lot of fun, but that’s not all they are.
This activity helps your child to develop both mentally and physically.
It builds their upper body and core strength.
It also teaches them how to make quick but calculated decisions in a few seconds.
Finally, if your child ever needs a hiding place, they can be easily camouflaged within the trunks and leaves of a tree.
18. Finding their way home from any point in your city
This is more about building memory than earning a skill.
Whenever you take your kid out, show them how to get back home.
Point out bus stops, call them by name, point out alternative routes, and so on.
Usually, it is encouraged that kids stay within the last area they saw you if they get lost.
But older kids can manage to find their way home when they’ve been taught how to.
Always ensure your kid has emergency money for bus and train tickets.
A couple of fast legs and a good set of lungs can get a child out of a bad situation.
Make running a habit in your family.
Go on short laps around the neighborhood for a few sessions each week.
If you don’t have the time for this exercise, sign them up for sports practice.
20. Reading a map
With GPS available, we hardly ever need to read a map.
However, this skill can never be wasted on the learner.
Children who know how to read maps develop spatial thinking.
This is the ability to find meaning in the shape, size, orientation, and location of objects, or the relative position of multiple objects.
For example, they can tell when land space is leading to a body of water.
They can also look at an area and tell which (possibly dangerous) animals could be nearby.
21. How to manage time
People who weren’t taught time management often struggle with the concept even in their adulthood.
Give your child early lessons to managing their own time and the time of others.
If you live in a big city, then unexpected delays could happen at any time.
Show your kids personal tips and tricks you use to always stick to time.
They can start applying these lessons while working on their chores, homework, or even during playtime.
Urban Survival Skills for Kids: Conclusion
Remember that life’s one big teachable moment.
Use normal incidence to reinforce these lessons.
It can sometimes be difficult to remember every skill you need to teach your child in a sit-down moment.
However, as experiences happen, you can share the right lessons.
Try making some of these lessons fun to hold your child’s interest and encourage their participation.
Finally, enjoy the process of sharing and bonding with your child, and make the most of it.
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