Being a parent, my daughter’s safety is always on my mind. Whenever she is outside the home for playing with friends, buying groceries or any other reason, I feel a little restless till she returns safely. The only fact that keeps me sane is that I have taught her about ‘stranger danger’ and reiterate it from time to time.
Here are some tips to ensure that your children are aware of handling situations with strangers.
- Explain the Meaning of Stranger
Let your children know that a stranger is a person they don’t know. Strangers can appear just like you and me, dress and speak nicely but they may be dangerous. So, if a stranger approaches them, they should not talk to him or her.
- Never Accept Things from Strangers
Tell your children to refuse to accept chocolates, treats, toys, money or gifts from strangers. Children can be upfront and tell strangers ‘My parents have asked me not to accept things from strangers’.
- Don’t Believe in What Strangers Say
Strangers use different tricks to trap children. They may say ‘I need help’, ‘Your parent has met an accident and you need to come with me’ or ‘Your father sent me to pick you up from school’. Your children should know that they should not trust anything that strangers say or go with them no matter what.
- Never Invite Strangers to Home
If your child is alone at home or unknowingly befriended a stranger, they should know never to allow that person into the home. Similarly, if a stranger invites your child to their home or any other place, they should simply refuse.
- Keep a Code Word
Create a unique code word that only your child and close family members know. Whenever a stranger approaches your children and asks to go with him or her, your child should ask the stranger for the code word. When the stranger is not able to say the code word, your child will understand and not go with him or her.
Just make sure to keep a code word that your child can easily remember. Remind them of the code word every week and change it every few months.
- Teach Them to Create a Scene
Tell your children that it is ok to scream, kick or cry and create a scene if they sense danger from a stranger. This will draw attention from other people and they can come for help in such situations.
- Create a Buddy System
Be it in school, at a family function or any place, tell your child to take along a friend whenever they have to go somewhere and if parents are not around for some reason. I used this trick when my daughter was old enough to go to neighbourhood stores to buy stationery or grocery.
- Teach About Taking Help from Good Strangers
There are situations when your child might need to ask strangers for help. For example, they might get lost or separated in public or parents might have gotten injured and sent the child to seek help. In such cases, your child should know about trying to find good strangers. These good strangers could be a policeman, security guard, store employee, a person in uniform, or a mother/father/grandparent with a child.
Lastly, let your children know that they should trust their instincts whenever they sense stranger danger. If they feel scared or uncomfortable, they should walk away from the stranger immediately.