The wellbeing of children is a top priority for parents, but you can’t expect to have eyes on them all of the time, just like you can’t expect kids to remember to lock the door or close a window. While they may not yet be old enough to know better, but teaching young children the basics of home security is as important to their wellbeing as it is to the safety of your property.

To help better prepare children for the event of an emergency, and improve parents’ peace of mind, we’ve highlighted three home security tips to teach your children, to ensure your home and family remain secure.

The importance of locking doors and windows

When kids are leaving in a hurry, checking that doors and windows are closed and locked may not be at the forefront of your mind, but it ought to be. Parents should not only remind their kids of the safety threats posed when leaving a door or window unlatched, but also work with them to develop a convenient way to check.

If your children are carrying keys to your home, remind them of the importance of keeping them out of sight, and never leave ‘spare keys’ hidden in plant pots or under the doormat. If you prefer your children not to carry house keys about them, consider designating a trusted neighbour as keyholder or use a professional service for them to access your home.

Likewise, remind children not to open the door to strangers or inform a caller if they are home alone, particularly with Halloween around the corner. In their guide to Halloween security, Bridger Security note that setting a cut-off point for when to answer the door is crucial to keeping your home as safe as possible on the spookiest night of the year. In a similar vein, make sure older children are clear on what is and isn’t OK to post on social media, such as your home address and travel plans.

How to operate your home security alarm system

Today’s children are more familiar with technology than their parents may realise. In a 2015 study, children as young as four were shown to be adept with a smartphone or other mobile device.

Start by teaching kids the basics: how to arm and disarm the security alarm, as well as how to identify different alerts. When instructing them, letting the alarm sound briefly will help everybody familiarise themselves with the noise and help eliminate panic later.

Parents should work with their kids to come up with a safe, yet memorable arm/disarm code for their alarm system. Finally, stress the importance of not sharing the code with others to prevent having to change it later.

How to help your children cope after a break-in

In any emergency, parents and children should have an already agreed-upon plan in the event of a break in to minimise as much disruption as possible. Discourage children from entering your home if the alarm is sounding and doors or windows appear broken, and have a few options ready. For example, have a designated neighbour’s house at which to seek help or refuge.

If you don’t use a monitored alarm system, or your home security is disabled, remind children of their responsibility to alert the police on 999 or 101 depending on the state of emergency. When speaking to an emergency dispatcher, remind kids to remain calm, what information to convey and to speak quietly if an intruder is still in your home. The best way to solidify an emergency plan is to practice it with all members of the household.

It’s also integral to work closely with children to help them feel safe after a break in. Encourage children to talk about the experience and listen to them patiently. Get back into a routine as soon as possible, and talk about how you plan to to make your home a more secure place. The good news is most children recover well following a trauma when they have a supportive parent.