There are so many important conversations we need to have with our children. One of the most important, is talking to them about strangers. This is tough conversation to have. I don’t want to scare our children, but at the same time, I really want them to know what to do if they are ever faced with a “stranger situation.” Just writing this makes my insides crawl at the thought. Here are some tips to help you start the conversation with your children.
FIrst, help 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?” She makes a very good point.
So…The next thing you want to do is 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. Help your children understand the difference between “strangers” and “safe strangers”
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 must 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. Make that very clear.
Next, and really really important, 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?
Homemaker, wife and mother. My husband and I have five children. On the side I am an adjunct faculty member at Brigham Young University where I received a Masters Degree in Youth and Family Recreation. Three times a week I endeavor to teach college students the importance of families doing things together. Then I come home and try to figure out how to implement what I just taught. Believe me I know, It is a lot easier said than done. I used to speak French, wish I could dance, and will almost always choose fruity over chocolate.
Heather is the author of Family Volley, where writes about parenting, motherhood and relationships.