Adults understand the threat that strangers may represent, but children do not. Teaching your child about strangers is necessary to ensure her safety, but you should approach the issue of dangerous strangers carefully. You don’t want to provoke unnecessary fear in your child. By keeping your focus on knowledge and empowerment, you can instruct your child on the importance of personal safety without overwhelming her. Introduce the principles of safety to a young child through a variety of activities. Your child will enjoy herself while she learns how to keep herself safe.
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Act Out Stranger Danger
Role playing is a reliable, nonthreatening method of introducing safety to your child. The My Child Safety website identifies offering candy and asking for help finding a lost animal as the two most common ruses strangers use to approach children. Other approaches include offering your child a ride home or telling him a family member is sick or has been in an accident. Practice appropriate responses with your child. Instruct him to refuse rides or candy and to shout "No!" if a stranger is persistent and to run away. Teach your child to scream and fight by kicking, hitting and scratching if a stranger ever tries to grab him.
Recognize with Repetition
Games are another good way to teach young children about strangers. The Surf Net Kids website suggests picture games to teach your child the difference between strangers and non-strangers. Gather together a variety of pictures of family members and friends, as well as a collection of strangers cut out from magazines or newspaper articles. Hold the pictures up in flashcard style and have your daughter identify the strangers from the people she knows. Also, your child needs to learn that not all strangers pose a threat; "good" strangers can help your daughter if she becomes lost. Mix in a few pictures of police officers, security guards and mothers with children. Have your daughter identify these "good" strangers as safe people whom she can approach for help. Practice identifying real strangers with your child when the two of you are out shopping together or playing at the park.
Arts and crafts can also be used to teach important safety skills. Your child can make simple puppets with wooden craft sticks, glue, material, construction paper and markers. This easy craft allows your son to have fun while practicing personal safety techniques. The A to Z Teacher Stuff website suggests using puppets to teach children the importance of using the buddy system when playing or walking home from school. Puppets can also be used to role play interactions with strangers.
Songs to Remember
Your child needs to know some basic personal information in the event she becomes separated from you and needs to ask a stranger for help. According to the Surf Net Kids website, your child should know her name, phone number and address. Consider rehearsing this information to the tune of a familiar nursery song. It will turn memorizing the information into more of a game for her than a chore.