You want your child to meet new people and make new friends, but you also want them to stay safe, which sometimes involves them staying away from people you don’t know, who may intend harm to your child. So, how do you balance the two concepts? Well, you can teach them about the dangers of meeting strangers, and what they can do to remove themselves from potentially dangerous situations. Keep reading to learn more, and for more information about our preschool in Coon Rapids, or about our programs and locations, contact us today.
Choose Your Words With Care
Wording is very important, especially since kids tend to take things a bit more literally than you may have intended. Instead of using the word “stranger” try using the term “tricky people,” which includes both strangers and familiar people, who may try to trick children into breaking the rules of safety. It is important to draw some distinction between the two terms because children implicitly trust kind grown-ups because the “strangers” that we want to warn our kids about are often not going to be as scary as we imagine them to be. Instead, these tricky people are adults who are friendly and charming.
There Are Good Strangers and Bad Strangers
Teach your child to be cautious of anyone they don’t know, but don’t teach them that all strangers are bad. Children, again, think a little differently than we do, and who they consider to be a bad stranger may also differ than what we think a bad stranger is. Instead, teach your child what a good stranger or what a good adult may do, and how they can ask for help if they are ever in a situation where they need the help of a stranger.
The best way to do this is to perhaps go out in public and take a walk through a park with your child or meander through town. Point out examples of “good adults” and why your child could trust them. Some examples could include police officers, firefighters, a parent with a child, teachers, or someone with a name tag (like a store clerk or a security guard).
Practicing this with your child gives them the confidence to know more about how to protect themselves against tricky people, and it gives them a good indicator of what a good stranger would look like. But, it also gives you a chance to further describe what a “bad stranger” might be. Because it is hard to describe what a “bad stranger” might look like, instead, tell your child that a bad stranger is anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable, or gets them to do something without the parent’s permission. Familiarize your child with some common warning signs of a bad stranger, which can include:
- An adult who asks them to disobey their parents or do something without asking permission.
- An adult that asks them to keep a secret.
- An adult that asks a child for help.
Simple Rules For Kids
Since it’s hard to always be by your child’s side, especially when they’re playing with the other neighborhood kids around the block, give them a simple list of rules to follow if they feel uncomfortable or if they think they’re interacting with a bad stranger.
- Trust Yourself – Tell your child to trust their gut feeling, and to find a parent, a teacher, or a good stranger to help.
- Always Walk With A Buddy – Sometimes, bad strangers target kids who are alone. If your child is with a friend or sibling, they will likely be much safer!
- Secrets Aren’t Safe – Tricky people will use secrest as a way to test boundaries. Tell your child that it is very important to tell you if a tricky person tries to tell them to keep secrets from their mom and dad.
- Use a Family Code – It is always a good idea to come up with a code word, like a safe word, that your child can use in an emergency, or in a situation as simple as needing a neighbor to pick up your child from school. Your child might think that person is a stranger, so having a word that the kid knows is safe will let your child know they are safe. Furthermore, however, if your child needs to make a call to you and uses the code word or phrase, then you know something may be wrong and they need help.
What You Can Do As A Parent
In addition to giving your children the tools they need to feel safe as they play in a public park or walk home from school, there are also a few things you can do to make sure they stay safe and avoid dangerous situations.
- Know Where They Are At All Times – Make it a rule that your children must ask permission before going anywhere, and give your child your cell phone number so they can reach you at all times.
- Give Them Safe Places – Show your kids safe roads and paths to take, safe places to go if they are in trouble, or safe places to play.
- Teach Children To Be Assertive – Make sure they know it’s okay to say no to an adult if they feel like they are in a dangerous situation.
Especially as we head into summer and your children will likely want to be outside and play with their friends, it is important to empower your child and equip them with the necessary tools it takes to keep them safe.
Compass Child Care has locations in Coon Rapids, Blaine, Isanti, and East Bethel. With easy child care locations near you, it makes enrollment as easy as ever! Contact us for more information about our preschool programs or for inquiries about how to enroll.