One of my favorite parts about summer, is that the kids are with me most of the day. It is comforting to know where they are and what they are doing.
Sending them back to school makes me nervous. I am a worrier by nature, so when we are a part I stress about what they might encounter. And I worry about strangers. Stranger Danger is real, and it is a hard topic to discuss with our kids because we don't want to scare them.
Start by helping your children understand what a stranger is. A stranger is anyone that your family doesn’t know very well. Strangers don’t have to look mean and evil like TV portrays. It is important for children to understand that.
When I was explaining strangers to our daughter, she said, “but we don’t know policemen, so are they strangers?”
Next, distinguish the difference between bad strangers and safe strangers. Safe strangers are those people that our children can go to for help. Firemen, policemen, and teachers are good examples of safe strangers. Talk about the safe strangers in your community.
Once your child understands what a stranger is, you will want to talk about dangerous situations. Explain to your children that anytime an adult…
· Asks them for directions or help
· Asks your child to keep a secret
· Does or says something that makes them uncomfortable
· Encourages them to disobey you or do something wrong...
They need to get away and tell an adult immediately. This also means explaining to them that they won't get in trouble for "telling on" an adult. Emphasis that they will never get in trouble for "disobeying" and adult when any of the above situations apply.
Next, role-play situations that your child might be faced with. Remember, role play is one of the most powerful parenting tools we have. Role play prepares your 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. (Helping your children understand that in these situations, it is okay to say “no” to an adult.) Some examples might include…
· 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.
Talk to your child about what to do if they are ever faced with one of 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.
- Tell an adult, or safe stranger what has happened right away.
Practice possible dangerous situations so your children know what to do. This will give them more confidence if the situation ever presents itself, and will give you a little peace of mind as you send them out the door each day.
What have you told your children about Strangers?
Is it hard to talk to your kids about strangers?
It it already Tuesday. What are your plans for the week?