As parents we start teaching our kids the basics of how the world and everything in it work.  The Cow goes Moo, the sky is blue, keep your identity true.  This suggestion may feel like it goes a bit too far, but does it really?  One of the new basics should be helping our children to understand what their identity truly is.

This is no small task.  It’s difficult for adults to keep up on the ever changing definition of “identity”.  But we need to at least give our children some basic context so that as they mature and become ready for the complexities they have the building blocks firmly in place.  We can achieve this simply by having a discussion when a concrete example is occurring.  How many parents right now are missing opportunities?  The use of biometrics is becoming more and more common in our daily lives.  How many of us participated in events that took our children’s fingerprints in order to identify them in a worst case scenario.  How many of our health care providers use palm prints when checking into the doctor’s office?  Take each of the moments to actually explain what is happening and why.  Not overly complex but at least a short explanation.  Make sure they understand that even though their identity isn’t a tangible thing, that it can be stolen.  This is certainly a complex concept but repeating it will help to cement it as they get older.

Don’t assume that leading by example is enough or that they will simply understand just by observation.  You will never know how your children truly perceive things (wrongly)until you ask or it hits you in the face.  I remember when someone asked my youngest child where money comes from.  He was four at the time and he promptly and confidently responded, “from the store.”  After some discussion we figured out that he had noticed how, on a regular basis, when I was done shopping and paid with my ATM card, I would usually get cash back.  In his mind not only did the groceries not cost anything, the store actually gave me money when I was finished taking all those delectable items off their hands.  Not every misconception is as humorous as this.  When we chuckle about the misconceptions that our children and even teens have about these things, whose fault is it?  It’s ours.  Not theirs.

School teachers have what they call “teachable moments”.  These are events which help them teach children about a concept which may be too complex to present on its own. However, when the concept is paired with a concrete example to which the children relate it makes it much easier for a young mind to understand.  We must find these “teachable moments” to help our children learn about just what their “identity” is and how to protect it.

“Teachable Moments in Identity” was written by Eva Velasquez. Eva is the CEO/President of the Identity Theft Resource Center. We welcome you to post/reprint the above article, as written, giving credit to the author and linking back to the original posting.