Teach your child about the importance of ‘Stranger Danger.’
As a parent, teaching your children about stranger awareness can be very difficult. Although you want to teach your child how to respect others, it is equally important to emphasise the importance of dealing with strangers. The problem is every person that your child meets for the first time will fall into the stranger category, including neighbours, relatives, and teachers.
Tip #1: There are different types of strangers
Everyone is a stranger at some point. Children learn who they can trust based on your approval. Communicate with your children about people that are safe, such as relatives, neighbours, family friends, and teachers. Authority figures such as policemen and firemen are also safe. Let your children know that if they ever needed help, these are the people they should go to if you are not around.
Strangers that are not safe are people that you have not introduced to your child. Explain to your child that they should not speak to anyone that they don’t know unless you (or their teacher) give them permission to do so. Also explain that even if a stranger knows their name, it is still not ok to speak with that stranger because sometimes strangers can overhear someone else say their name.
Tip #2: Just because someone is an adult, it doesn’t mean that they are in charge
If your child is approached by an adult that they do not know, then that adult is at fault. Good adults understand the importance of stranger safety and should NEVER approach a child without being introduced by a safe person first. Explain to your child that just because they are approached by an adult, it doesn’t mean that they should follow the adult’s commands unless they already know the person.
Tip #3: Teach your children how to follow their instincts
Children are very intuitive. Explain to your child that if they feel uncomfortable for any reason around a person, to run away immediately and seek a person that is safe. This includes people that may “act” like they are in charge. Not all dangerous strangers use sweets or lost puppies to lure children. Sometimes dangerous strangers approach children with a level of authority to intimidate the child. If your child does not feel comfortable for any reason, tell them to run away immediately. The worse thing that could happen if they run from a person that actually turns out to be safe is to apologise after they are with another safe person.
Tip #4: Building confidence in your child
Probably one of the hardest challenges when working with children on stranger awareness is helping them maintain confidence. The last thing you want is for your child to be afraid of every person they meet. To prevent this from happening, put your child in activities that builds confidence. Activities such as the Martial Arts can help children cope with stranger awareness while maintaining a confident outlook on society as a whole.
Remember, there is no easy method for helping your child deal with strangers. One conversation will not do the trick. You must consistently work with your child and ask them questions to make sure they understand what to do in any given situation. In fact, many experts will suggest that stranger awareness be a part of your daily parenting routine. For example, if you take your child to a park before you leave the car ask your child what would they to do if they are approached by a stranger. Keep in mind that outside activities that build confidence will also go a long way when building stranger awareness in your child.