In the Toddler’s Mind
Young children are not able to fully comprehend the concept of danger, much less ‘Stranger Danger’. They often have difficulties relating danger to a seemingly friendly person compared to someone whom they have seen portray a scary and nasty image.
Check out these great tips on how parents can help their children to be more aware of strangers and the possible dangers of meeting strangers.
#1 Who is a Stranger
A stranger is someone that the family does not know well. When you talk to your child about strangers, explain to them that a stranger might not always look like the villains in the cartoons or movies they watch.
A stranger that appears to be nice can be as dangerous as the nasty ones. But do not make it seem like all strangers are bad. Tell them that sometimes a nice stranger may help when we are in danger or when we are lost. Instead, they should always follow their caregivers and be aware and be careful around different strangers.
#2 No Generalized Statement
“Don’t listen or talk to strangers”
“Don’t take any food from strangers”
“Don’t follow any strangers”
We tend to use the negative approach and tell the children what they should not do. Instead, we should emphasise what they can do instead. National Crime Prevention Council highlighted that “In a dangerous situation, kids should say no, run away, yell as loud as they can and tell a trusted adult what happened right away”. So in short, help children to remember the steps “No, Go, Yell, Tell”. They can approach their parents, police officers, firemen and teachers if they need help.
After discussing what a stranger is, you can engage your child in pretend play. Set up a simple stage and pretend to be the stranger and ask your child to show you what they can do and how they can respond when a certain scenario happens.
⇒ Related Read: Teaching Our Kids To Be Street Smart
#4 Teach Your Child About Their Body Parts
Many of us often teach children about their eyes, nose, mouth and ears but we forgot about their private parts as well. Use proper biological names for each body parts. The children have to understand about their body parts and that if someone touches them inappropriately, it is not right. Empower them with simple words like ‘stop’ or ‘no’ to them and teach them to inform a trusted adult immediately.
⇒ Related Read: How Do We Keep Our Children Safe From Sexual Abuse?
#5 Use Children’s Literature
Children’s storybooks are a fantastic source of information as they often illustrate more details suitable for the comprehension of young children. It is one way where your child can relate to and increase their understanding and awareness of the kind of danger they may face when interacting with strangers. One good example of such books is Once Upon a Dragon: Stranger Safety for Kids (and Dragons) by Jean E Pendziwol.
It is essential to prepare children for the real world, but it is important for us to be careful with our choice of words and actions. The last thing we want is to raise a child who is afraid of everything.
How do you educate your child about strangers? Come share your tips with us!
By Crystal Tan.
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This article was first published in New Age Pregnancy.
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