I’ve always written my phone number on the inside of my kids’ school bags and told them that it’s there in case they ever need it. But their school bags are not always with them. I considered sewing labels with my phone number onto their clothes, but that just became impossible with two children who can’t stand regular clothing labels which I need to cut out of every garment. I soon realised that the easiest way to get around this problem of my kid needing my phone number and not having it, was if they knew it in their heads.

I started teaching them our important numbers from a young age; mine, my husband’s and the police. I’ve impressed upon them the absolute importance of using this number whenever they feel uneasy or scared or need my help in any way. I’ve told them to ask an adult for a phone or if they are at home, the only number they are allowed to dial without asking is mine or Dadddy’s. It took a while for them to get it; I’m always amazed at how they remember the month, day and time you jammed their finger in the door, yet they can’t remember important things like a 10 digit number.

But we’re finally at the age where both the 4 year old and the 6 year old know our numbers. This is good. Except when your kid calls you five times a day: first call just to say hello, second call to ask if they can go make a wee, third call to ask what’s for lunch, fourth call to whine about how bored they are at home and so on and so on.. you get the picture. They’ve also requested a list of other people’s phone numbers who they might like to call, like their grannies and aunties and cousins. Now I know how my father felt when I would spend hours on the landline talking to my mates.

But Mr Bell did not invent the telephone for nothing, so I’ve made a list of all the phone numbers they may like to try, on condition that they ask first. I do believe that small amounts of freedom for a little child are exhilarating, so a few self-made calls to Granny won’t hurt. I may regret saying that when I see the bill, won’t I?

I also think it’s important to make them aware of the important emergency numbers, along with informing them on how to use the panic button and your house alarm. This makes sure they are prepared in case of an emergency, especially if the emergency involves you, and you are not able to make the call yourself.

Does your child know how to contact you in an emergency? Does your child know how to contact an emergency service if they need to? Equipping your child with these could be lifesaving, so do not delay in making sure they know how to get hold of you. The simplest approach is parrot-fashion. Before a child can even read or identify numbers, if he or she can recite the numbers, you are half way there. When they are able to recognise the numbers themselves, and can write them down or recite them back to you, you’ll sleep better at night. I know I do.

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