How to Discuss Stranger Danger with Your Child
Stranger Danger is a very important topic that parents should discuss with their child, especially when approaching the age when being outside and the chance of encountering unfamiliar and new people can occur every day. Your child may be leaving the house for preschool, kindergarten, celebrations and other recreational activities where he or she may be alone and waiting for pick-ups to and from events. Boys Town Pediatrics offers advice on how to discuss Stranger Danger.
Stranger Danger Advice
Good and Bad Strangers. Explain what a stranger is to your child. Calmly explain a stranger is somebody who your family doesn’t know. Explain that while it is okay for your child to talk to someone new if you are with them, it isn’t okay to talk to unknown adults on their own. Tell your child if he is alone and an adult approaches to treat the adult as a stranger.
Safety. Adults shouldn’t need to ask your child for help or to keep a secret. Explain the importance of safety rules your child should follow with strangers that aren’t known to the family.
Stranger Danger Guidelines:
- Never take food or treats from strangers.
- Never allow a stranger to come into the house.
- Never get in a stranger’s car or go in his or her house.
- If the stranger makes you feel uncomfortable, say no and walk away.
- If the stranger makes you feel scared, run away, yell and find a trusted adult like a teacher, babysitter or police officer and explain what happened.
Go over Stanger Danger tips often with your child. Help your child memorize emergency contact numbers and role play stranger situations so both you and your child feel comfortable and know what to do in a possible stranger situation.
It is still good for your child, especially as they are leaving the house, preschool or kindergarten age, to learn safety rules with adults that aren't known to the family. So your child should know that adults shouldn't need to ask them for help. Adults shouldn't give them food or treats if they don't know them. They shouldn't ask them to come into the house or get into their car. And if any adult is making your child feel uncomfortable your child should know that they can always tell somebody no and if they are feeling scared by an adult they should run away and yell and then tell somebody about the experience that they had. It's probably best that parents just keep a good eye on their children and not putting them in environments where they might be exposed to a stranger and something bad could happen. As they get older they can understand good and bad strangers and adults better.
I would start this at four or five, just some simple stuff. You don't have to get into it to the point that it makes them nervous, but start talking about who strangers are. A stranger is just somebody who your family doesn't know. It's always ok to reassure your child that it's ok to talk to somebody new, especially if you are there with them, but if they are by themselves and an adult approaches them, then they should use caution and treat them like a stranger.