Navigating the scary world of “stranger danger” can be a hard topic for parents and kids alike. All we want as parents is to keep our children safe, but the world we live in can make that very difficult. The earlier we start by talking to your kids about strangers and body safety, the better prepared they will be. And the earlier we can start implementing these tips, the better. The more we talk about it and practice safety strategies with your kids, the more prepared and the more confidence they will have.
1) Never get into a car or leave with a stranger
Kids learn that they should never get into a car or leave with strangers they do not know, no matter what the person says. We practice role-playing scenarios and coach your children on how they should respond to stranger danger in different situations.
2) When in trouble, look for a “safe stranger” or a mom with kids
Kids learn that a stranger is someone their family doesn’t know. In a perfect world, an alert, uniformed police officer would be standing within shouting distance of your child at all times, ready to pounce on any villain who may try to pull unsavory shenanigans. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We teach your child if can’t find a “safe stranger” like a police officer or firefighter, train your child to look for a mom with kids if he or she is lost or feels unsafe.
3) Don’t be afraid to yell, “NO!” and make a scene
Kids when it’s okay to yell. Often times we make it a point to train our children to behave and use manners, especially while in public. But when your child feels threatened or unsafe, they need to understand that it’s okay to be loud and rude. We teach your child that yelling or screaming things like “NO!” “Where’s my mom?” “Who are you?” “Leave me alone!” or simply, “HELP!” is absolutely okay under these stranger danger circumstances, as are kicking, biting, punching and throwing a fit. (I will ask your kids to practice this in class… that’s why they are yelling!)
4) Don’t ever keep a secret from mom & dad
Kids learn they will never be in trouble for telling their parents or a teacher if someone has made them feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or has asked them to do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. We assure them that, even if the person has told them will get in trouble, that person is lying and that it is ALWAYS okay to tell mom and dad any secret.
5) Trust your gut
Kids learn to trust their gut instincts. It can be hard to explain what that is to a young child, so we explain it as an “uh-oh” feeling: an uncomfortable feeling in their tummy that tells them something is wrong. Let them know that when they feel that feeling, find a “safe stranger” or come talk to you or another trusted adult and tell them about it.