Responsibly teaching kids about strangers requires parents to carefully balance the dangers of the unknown with the independent and trusting nature of children. While you want to keep your children safe from unscrupulous individuals that lurk in your community, you don’t want to scare your children from making meaningful connections with those they can trust. By communicating a few easy stranger danger tips you can keep your kids safe from anyone who might mean them harm.
Despite what some news reports may lead you to believe, not all strangers are out to hurt your children. Many of the people you and your child encounter are perfectly normal and can be invaluable if your child is ever in a dangerous situation. In order to best communicate the ideas of stranger danger for children, you should teach your children to distinguish between safe strangers and dangerous strangers. When you are out with your child, take the opportunity to identify people who can help them. Shop clerks, police officers, school teachers, firefighters, and librarians are all easy to recognize. Tell your child that if they are ever in trouble or if someone is bothering them, they can always go to one of these people, and they will help.
Also, when teaching kids about strangers and the dangers they can pose, you should remind kids to stay as visible as possible. If they are dealing with bullies, inappropriate touching, or abduction, the most important thing is to be as visible as possible. Teach your kids how to draw attention to themselves if they are in a dangerous situation. Yelling, running into a crowded area, or telling an adult in a public space can decrease the chances of abduction. Even just drawing the attention of one additional adult can help prevent someone from doing your child harm.
Finally, of all the safety tips for kids, the most important is to trust their instincts. Teach your child to listen to themselves and assess how they feel about a given situation. If they feel uncomfortable or unsafe in any way, they should respond to that. If a stranger asks them to disobey a parent or go where they’re not supposed to, they should recognize that something isn’t right. Your kids should be able to recognize that something is wrong when a stranger decides to ask kids for help when they could just as easily ask an adult. Teach your children to question things and to come to you or another trust adult if they are ever uncertain. By trusting themselves, your children will learn to keep themselves safe from stranger danger without getting scared of every person out there.