Throughout our stint as parents, there will be plenty of tough conversations we will have to have with our children. One that is always tough for me is talking to our kids about strangers. I don’t even want to think about it, let alone have to talk about it. In fact it makes me nervous typing about it. I worry about being able to teach them without scaring them. Never the less, it is a conversation we MUST have. More than once in fact.
With summer around the corner, our kids are going to be outside more, riding their bikes around the neighbor and playing with their friends. Now is the perfect time to start talking to them about strangers and what to do if they are ever faced with the situation.
Let me help you with the conversation.
Uh, I wasn’t really expecting that. But I am so glad she asked.
We need to distinguish between bad strangers and safe strangers. Safe strangers are people that our children can go to for help. This would include policemen, firemen and teachers. Take time to talk about the difference between safe strangers and bad strangers.
- When someone asks them for directions or help. This would include being asked to find a missing dog etc…
- When someone asks your child to keep something a secret.
- If someone does or says something that makes them uncomfortable.
- If someone encourages them to disobey you, break family rules, or do something wrong.
- If someone asks them to come up to a car window or follow them somewhere.
- If someone tries to grab or touch your child.
Once our children understand what a stranger is, and what a dangerous situation is, we MUST role play situations that our children might be faced with. Role playing is one of the most powerful parenting tools we have. It prepares our children so that when they are faced with the situation, they have confidence in their abilities, because they feel like they have already handled the situation. It also helps them know just what to do. They don’t have to waste precious time trying to decide how they should act because they already know.
A stranger asks your child if they want a ride home.
A stranger stops to ask if your child has seen their missing dog.
A stranger asks your child for directions.
A stranger asks your child if they want a treat or candy.
A stranger tries to grab your child.
A strangers tells your child they are supposed to take them home.
Teach your child what to do in these situations.
- Never get close to the car, or the stranger. Keep your distance.
- Yell “No” as loud as you can and run away from the stranger.
- Kick and scream and thrash if necessary.
- Tell an adult, or safe stranger what has happened right away.