childsafe istock 90820827 xxxlarge 682x408

THRIVE

Teach your children to be safe around strangers

For generations, parents have told their kids, "Don't talk to strangers." However, there are times it's a good idea for kids to talk to strangers. If they're lost and need help, they'll likely need to turn to a stranger. For that reason it's important they know who they can trust and when it's appropriate to talk to strangers. 

One of the best things families can do is talk early and often in a non-threatening way about stranger tips and precautions, including: 

  • Set guidelines around interacting with strangers. Talk with your kids about the safe adults in their life, such as family, caregivers, teachers, police and neighbors. Let them know it is okay to talk with strangers when you are together. If they are alone and approached by a stranger the family does not know, it's important to find a safe adult immediately.
  • Teach them to trust their instincts. Let your child know if someone makes him or her feel uncomfortable or something isn't right, he or she needs to walk away and seek out help from a safe adult. You have the right to say "no" to an adult when feeling uncomfortable.
  • Make them aware of their surroundings. By the time they are preschool age, your children should be learning their address, phone number, parents' names and how to call 911. If your kids stay home alone, teach them not to tell people that they are alone or to answer the door. As kids reach the tween years, parents should have conversations about online safety.
  • Give them real-life examples. Role play with kids starting in preschool to teach them not to interact with adults they don't know without a safe adult present. Identify scenarios where an adult (strangers and non-strangers alike) does something inappropriate and teach your child how to react and find help.
  • Teach them to judge people by their actions, not their looks. While most strangers are nice, we cannot tell by appearances alone. Kids are likely to be wary of strangers who are mean-looking or appear frightening in some way. The truth is, most abductors look like regular people, and many go out of their way to look friendly, safe and appealing to children. So, instead of judging a person by appearance, teach kids to judge people by their actions.
  • Let them know adults don't ask kids for help. Tell your children that if a stranger ever approaches and offers a ride, treats like candy or toys or asks for help with a task like helping find a lost dog, they should step away, firmly yell, "No!" and leave the area immediately. Reiterate to them the importance of telling you, a teacher or trusted adult about these types of encounters. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Share this article

MORE LIKE THIS

Eight tips for being active with young kids

Continue reading

EMPOWER YOURSELF


Get fun, inspiring, provider-reviewed articles sent to your inbox.

Sign up for our email newsletter