Teaching situational awareness to kids

This guest post from our friend Emmanuel Manolakakis of Fight Club Toronto.

Halloween is here.  This is a great time to talk situational awareness or as its more commonly known as “street safety & smarts”.

I’ve met and talked with countless soldiers and law enforcement professionals over the years and I’ve noticed that they all have the same advice to these things. BE AWARE!!

Situational awareness is being aware of your surroundings, the place you’re at, the actions of others, especially furtive actions. In a world of increasing violence and crime being aware serves many purposes:

• Protection- the oblivious are a favourite victim of criminals.
• Warning- you’ll see danger before it starts so you can react accordingly to save your own life and/or others.
• Information- you’ll able to accurately recall vital information in the case of a crime or threat to give police.

The Unaware
Children, to the exasperation of most parents, are unaware. We teach them to be aware of vehicles before crossing the road and stranger danger, but in today’s world, we need to teach them more. This can be tricky without making them afraid of the entire world. Let me show you a few ways I do it at FightClub and maybe you can try

The Situational Awareness Game
Begin by asking your kids questions after leaving a store. Ask about people, the location of exits, displays, and what was going on in the store while you were there.

It’s important to vary the questions so they don’t know exactly what you’ll ask. You want them to become aware and not how to focus on what they think we want to hear. These are just general guidelines to give you an idea. You’ll find this activity is just as challenging for adults as for children. We are blissfully unaware of our surroundings or simply distracted much more than we realize.

These are just general guidelines to give you an idea. You’ll find this activity is just as challenging for adults as for children. We are blissfully unaware of our surroundings or simply distracted much more than we realize.

Place Awareness
• Where were the bathrooms?
• Where were the exits?
• Was there an entrance and an exit?
• Where did we park?
• Which entrance did we come in at? Left through?

Once they can answer these questions with ease and accuracy with each store, restaurant, or building you’ll know they’ve been trained to look for at their surroundings. At this point, it’s becoming natural and you can challenge them to see more than just the place.

People Awareness
• What was the cashier wearing?
• Do the employees have a uniform? If so what is it?
• What colour hair did the waitress have?
• Was the cashier wearing glasses?
• What did the look like?
• What were they wearing?
• What was the greeter’s name?

You just need to make sure their awareness is expanded not just shifting.

Thing Awareness
• What stickers were on the cashier’s name tag?
• What was displayed by the entrance?
• Describe the wallpaper in the bathroom.
• What food was on the aisle we walked down to get to the milk?
• What colour and type of car did we park next to when we got here?
• Describe your favourite picture displayed in the restaurant.
• What food did I have trouble deciding to purchase?

Eventually, you’ll be able to start really stretching your abilities and theirs. They will begin to notice the unusual and mundane around them. The ultimate goal is to become aware of where we are, where we are going, and who and what is around us. Teaching situational awareness can be lifesaving for your children. Don’t wait for the days before Halloween to do this, but rather consistently talk about it as I do at FightClub.

I really don’t like reading stories in the paper about bad things that could have been prevented with something as simple situational awareness. Please forward this to your friends and share the knowledge.

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