Teaching a child to be conscious of their surroundings and wary of potentially dangerous strangers is one of the most important skills you can give them. While we all hope that our children will never have to use these skills, parents can rest easier knowing that their child understands how to avoid unsafe people and situations. Here is a look at some of the steps that parents can take to teach their family about stranger danger.
Depending on their development and maturity, children are generally ready to begin discussing strangers around the age of four. This is around the time that parents should start teaching them about safe strangers and potentially dangerous strangers. Safe strangers would be individuals such as police officers and firefighters while unsafe strangers would be anyone that they have not seen or met before. Starting this conversation early on will help children understand that these situations are not black and white and how to be appropriately wary around certain strangers.
One of the best things that a parent can do for their child is to help them become aware of their surroundings and their instincts. By teaching a child to listen to these subconscious feelings, parents will be empowering their child to make good choices for a lifetime. This includes picking up on cues such how a stranger looks and their behavior. Whenever a child feels uncomfortable, they should feel comfortable erring on the side of caution.
Another excellent strategy for staying as safe as possible around strangers is to stick to groups. Children should always make a point of being around as many friends and family members as possible when out of the house. Whenever they are not near a safe adult, they should be around at least one or two other friends. Parents also want to tell their children to keep an eye out for their friends and make sure they are making good choices as well.
Stranger danger is not just something that happens outside of the house, and this is why parents need to come up with a strategy to keep their children safe online. First, children should never give away any private information to anyone online. If they would like to create an account or need to give out information for any other reason, then it should be a household rule that they must always ask a parent first. Parents should also give younger children a small list of websites they are allowed to go to with absolute no exceptions. As the child grows up and becomes more responsible, parents can add more sites to that list.
The National Crime Prevention Council suggests that all parents teach their children “No, Go, Yell, Tell.” The goal of this phrase is to help children be assertive with strangers, leave immediately, yell loudly, and then speak with a trusted adult about what happened. Telling a child that they are allowed to be assertive with a potentially dangerous adult could be something that goes against their instincts as they are taught at a young age to respect and follow the commands of adults. This is just one more reason that teaching them about stranger danger must start as early as possible to give them a good balance of respecting others and keeping themselves safe.
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