Teaching your children the importance of staying away from strangers is necessary. Just talking about it is not enough. You should always role play with them as well to make sure they understand exactly what to do.
Beyond stranger danger is teaching them who they can and should trust if they need help.
Good vs. Bad Strangers
Just as making sure they know to stay away from strangers is important, you also need to teach them that not all strangers are bad. This can be a little tricky, but it’s important that they know who they can most-safely turn to if you are not around. The fact is, everyone around them may be strangers if something happens.
Teach them that adults should NEVER be asking a child for help. They should also never approach a stranger that is asking them to do so for any reason. Let them know that these types of strangers could tempt them by luring them with things such as candy or small animals.
Next, make sure they know the difference between good and bad behavior when it comes to strangers. For instance, someone touching you in inappropriate places is bad. Offering them gifts or food without your permission is bad. Trying to get them to go somewhere with them is bad.
Not All Strangers are Bad
Let them know if they are in a dangerous situation or need help that not ALL strangers are bad. Making them fearful to ask for help can be just as harmful to them. They simply need to know not to accept help from anyone displaying bad stranger behavior and to never get in a car or leave with a stranger. A good stranger would call for help, not try to take them somewhere.
Tell them what types of strangers to look for if they do need help. A police officer, a mom or dad that has children with them, a teacher or school counselor. Any of these can be good choices for them to start with when seeking help.
They Control Their Body
Let your child know that their body is within their complete control on who they allow to hug them, kiss them or show any type of affection. For this reason, you need to give them the power to choose. I often see parents telling their child to ‘go hug someone goodbye’.
Instead, your child should have the option, not be told who they should allow to give them affection. No matter who they are to you, your child should always be the one making decisions regarding their body. This helps them learn that they have the power to say no and could keep them from a dangerous situation.
Teach them to listen to their bodies and never force them to hug, kiss, sit on someone’s lap or show affection to anyone – including you and your family members.