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How to Teach Your Kids About Stranger Danger

Have you had the stranger danger talk yet? Do you need help with How To Teach Your Kids About Stranger Danger?

You should start talking about stranger danger at age three. Your three year old isn’t old enough to go out on his own yet. That doesn’t mean he might not end up in a situation where he has been separated from you and he will need to know what to do if a stranger approaches. Your three year old will only start to understand at this point and you don’t want to scare him either so approach this topic carefully.

How to Teach Your Kids About Stranger Danger

How To Teach Your Child About Stranger Danger

Age 3 and 4

Stay with an adult at all times. Only talk to people you know if you are alone. You can say hi to strangers as you pass if you are with an adult.

Age 5 – Continue above and add:

Most people are good but there are some people who aren’t so just to be safe, stay with an adult at all times. If you get separated from us, stay where you are and I’ll find you. Explain that some strangers are Safe People: police officers, firefighters, teachers, store employees. Their job is to help people. If you are in trouble and need help, you can talk to a safe person. If you get lost in a store, you can ask a person who works in the store for help. (show them sometime while you are out so they will know how to tell if they work there. Look for name tags and matching shirts)

Age 6-7 – Continue above and add:

Bad people do not necessarily look strange, bad or scary. Even nice looking people can be bad. Strangers should not talk to children without an adult present. They should not ask you for help to find a pet. They should not ask you to go somewhere with them. They should not ask you to keep a secret from your parents. If anyone does this, you need to get away from them and tell us immediately.

Age 8-12 – Continue above and add:

If you are alone and a stranger is making you uncomfortable or doing something they shouldn’t, get away from them immediately. Let them know it’s okay to say, “I don’t talk to strangers” or “I need to go.” If they start touching or grabbing you, scream loudly (Help! This is not my mom/dad. Get away from me!) and kick if needed. Make sure they understand that if someone is scaring them or hurting them they are allowed to do the above even though they are adults.

Teach them about intuition. Point it out as you walk past people (make sure you explain out of ear shot of those people though). Show how when that person passed or that person over there gives you the heeby jeebies. In other words that you just feel like they may not be a safe person. Explain that you might be wrong but it’s good to listen to your intuition and put extra space between yourself and that person.

You may also want to introduce a family secret word that is used in the off chance there is an emergency and you have to send someone to pick up the kids that wasn’t originally arranged. So you have a secret word that ONLY you and your children (and spouse) know and if one day there is an emergency and you have a send a family friend to pick up the kids from school, you tell them that word so they can tell your child. Once your child hears the word they know you sent them and it’s safe to go with them.

Once your child is allowed to go around the neighbourhood alone whether that be 8 or 14 you need to add a few things to your talks. Remind them that it’s always best to be with a buddy when out and about. Any “bad” person is more likely to approach someone who is alone.

Age 12+ – Continue above and add:

If you notice a strange looking car that is following you or sitting say in a park with someone in it just watching kids playing for a long time, remember their license plate number or secretly take a photo of it with your phone to share with the police.

Sometime around or just after this age you are going to want to add in one scary thought but it should be said just in case. Your teenager needs to know what rape is and that:

1. if someone is trying to touch them in private places or trying to have sex with them they can do whatever it takes to get them off like hit, punch, scream, kick, bite etc. and also

2. If by chance someone is able to rape them, to NOT take a shower but go right to a trusted adult and call the police. Make sure they understand that no matter what the rapist says, you will NOT be mad at them, that they did NOTHING wrong even if they were too scared to try to stop them and that it’s important for them to not wash off the evidence. I know this is a very scary subject and you may think your child is too young to know about such things but just think about the scenario where you didn’t tell them and it happens. This talk is NOT just for girls either.

Make sure you conclude a rape talk by explaining that while it’s a serious and scary topic and it does happen, now that they are prepared and know what to do if someone tries they are safer. Remind them that most people are good but it’s better to be prepared for the few bad.

When To Have the Stranger Danger Talk

You want to cover the topics above at the ages mentioned but it can be hard to just randomly sit down one day and talk about serious topics. The best way to do it is to talk when the subject comes up.

When you are walking to school and someone comes up to your child and starts a conversation, finish politely and then once you are passed the person, bring it up.

“Just so you know, it’s okay for a stranger to talk to you if you are with me and they are just being polite but a stranger should never talk to you if you are alone. If they say hi as they walk past you can say hi back but if they try to ask you questions about yourself or keep the conversation going, excuse yourself and get out of there. You could say, ‘sorry I have to go now’.”

If the opportunity doesn’t come up though you will have to make time. Don’t sit down at the table for a heart-to-heart. Doing it this way (for any talk) puts children on the spot and makes them feel like they did something wrong. Sitting together cuddling on the couch or while driving in the car (where they can’t go and have nothing better to do than listen to you) is best.

Usually though enough people struck up conversations with my kids over the years that I had plenty of opportunities to talk about Stranger Danger. I hope these ideas on how to teach your kids about stranger danger are helpful.

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Mom of five, Girl Guide leader, Blogger, Social Media Enthusiast, Knowledge Seeker, Canadian.

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