#childsafety | Top Three Lessons to Teach Your Kids Now, According to CIA Officers — CIA Parenting Advice



When Christina Hillsberg, a former CIA analyst, met her husband Ryan, a fellow spy and CIA field operative, during her time in the CIA, she never dreamed that her training would help her become a better parent. But after getting married, they found themselves raising three children from Ryan’s first marriage, and a few years later, two more of their own. But being prepared in every situation helped them realize that they could use their training to raise their kids to always know what to do, too.

“When my husband and I became parents, we were faced with the stark reality that we won’t always be there to keep our kids safe, but if our time working at the CIA taught us anything, it’s that we can teach them to be prepared for the unpredictable,” she tells Parade.com.

The two just released their new book LICENSE TO PARENT, which aims to provide parents with the tools necessary to raise savvier, well-rounded kids who have the skills necessary to navigate through life, and are sharing the important techniques that you can start teaching your kids now. “By providing them with the proper training and tools, we’re giving our kids the best chance to survive should they find themselves in an emergency scenario,” Christina explains. “These concepts don’t need to be intimidating or frightening for you or your kids. When done appropriately, they can actually be fun!”

Top Three Lessons to Teach Your Kids Now, According to CIA Officers

  1. Make your own survival kits and involve your kids in the process. Whether your kids are young and ready for what we like to call “adventure bags,” or teenagers preparing to get behind the wheel, sit down together at the kitchen table and make their very own personalized survival bags. Make sure they have an instrumental role in choosing what goes into the bags and that they understand the use for each item. An emergency bag won’t do them any good if they don’t know what’s in there. We start this practice with our kids when they each turn 2 years old, and the adventure bag evolves into an emergency “go bag” that they keep in their car once they begin driving. Our 4 year old’s adventure bag has become a staple for every hike, and as an added bonus, it doubles as a key part of his Indiana Jones costume for the next Halloween.

Related: 6 Ways to Tell If Someone’s Lying, According to Former CIA Officers 

  1. Know how to improvise. In a world of cell phones and Google maps, kids need to understand the risks of depending on technology to get out of trouble. Make sure your kids know how to improvise for when technology fails—and it will fail them at some point or another. In an emergency scenario, cell phone networks could be down, and your kids should know how to improvise. For example, on a night when our teenage daughters suspected they were being followed, they ducked into a gas station and asked to use the phone since they had forgotten their cell phones at home. In a perfect world, they wouldn’t have forgotten their cell phones that evening, but this isn’t a perfect world. We have to remember that these are kids we’re talking about, and they won’t remember every piece of advice we’ve given them at all times. They need to know how to think on their feet. Make it a practice to walk your kids through various scenarios to ensure they have an idea of what they would do if things went wrong—they forgot a cell phone, their car broke down, or the road was blocked due to a landslide, for example. If they have an understanding that sometimes things go differently than expected and that they can’t always rely on technology, that will help prepare them to come up with alternate plans themselves.

Related: Five Ways to Jump-Start Your Child’s Independence Today, According to Expert Lauren Smith Brody 

  1. Get back to basics. In the event that things don’t go as planned and your kids are forced to improvise, knowing how to use a map and compass and understanding north, south, east, and west can be not only useful skills but also lifesaving. They should have a basic awareness of primitive navigation skills, like where the sun rises and sets and how to use the stars to find their way. We’ve found this to be especially important living in the Pacific Northwest where our kids begin hiking with us at a young age, and later, on their own. These navigation skills are also useful for urban environments. For example, once we felt our teenage kids were appropriate ages—for us that was 15, 13, and 11—we began dropping them off in downtown Seattle to spend summer days navigating the city alone. We gave them a paper map and told them a meeting location and time to return at the end of the day and off they went. You want your kids to have this same confidence and ability whether it’s getting around a major city, finding their way out of the woods, or getting back to dry land.

“When you begin to incorporate these techniques with your kids, you’re equipping them with skills that can prepare them for unexpected situations throughout their lives,” Christina says. “And instead of fearing the unpredictable, you can begin to feel at ease knowing that your kids are that much safer out in the world.

Trying to help your child with distance learning? Here are the best learning apps for kids.



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