As a parent, it is up to you to determine how to teach your child about life. This can range from food choices to manners and appearance. One area in which parents must be thorough is stranger danger. It is important to teach your child how to interact with strangers so they know what to do when approached by someone they do not know. Parents often forget to teach children about the day to day interactions with people that are strangers and focus solely on scary strangers. It is important to teach your child about all manners of strangers so they can feel comfortable in any situation. Below we will explore different scenarios in which to help your child understand behavior with strangers.
Determining the Types of Strangers
Being the parent, you will be introducing your child to many different types of people. You must help your child to distinguish between different types of people and scenarios. The first is a school you send your child to. Over time, your child will get to see the same faces everyday, and become friendly with them. These people stop being strangers.
When shopping, teach your child about people you do not know. For example, you say hello to the cashier at a store but you do not know them. Explain to your child that it is okay to say hello to people and be nice. When spoken to, it is appropriate to speak back. However, use this example to teach your child that they should never go anywhere with anyone they do not know. Being polite is acceptable but leaving with someone you do not know is a big no-no.
Levels of Unacceptable Behavior
Use the examples you have in everyday life to show what unacceptable behavior is and how your child should react. Tell your child that if a stranger who says hello wants them to help them search for a lost puppy or get in their car that this is unacceptable behavior. Let your child know that not everyone is nice and there are bad people in the world. Explain this calmly and rationally so your child can understand the difference between a harmful stranger and someone being nice. Going through scenarios with your child will help them to better understand the difference. This can be easier to explain to children who are of school age rather than toddlers.
Have a Password
One way to keep your child safe and sound as they age is a family password. This is an acceptable form of stranger danger safety. Teach your child a word or phrase that only you and certain family members know. Tell your child this is a phrase they are not to share with anyone. While at school or events, if a person says that your child must leave with them, they must know the password. The child should feel confident in asking the adult for the password. If the adult fails to say the word, the child knows they are not to leave with this person. The child should then seek out a trusted adult for assistance. Practice this so your child knows what to and can be kept safe from potential harm.
When you teach your child about stranger interaction be sure and practice these methods. Use different examples and scenarios as they happen in daily life to help your child learn how to react. Remember to keep a level head and show your child the difference between safety and harm. By practicing such scenarios, your child will be able to keep safe when you are not around. This can give you the peace of mind you need when your child is at school, a friend’s house or away from home in other situations. Continue to teach your child of the different stranger dangers as they age to have an open dialog of communication.