As a parent, it is natural to want your preschooler to feel safe and secure. However, how do you teach your child to be alert to possible dangers, such as strangers, and at the same time encourage your child to feel safe and confident in exploring the world?
What does ‘stranger’ mean?
Do not assume that your preschooler knows what the word “stranger” means. Teach your preschooler that a stranger is anyone you do not know. Someone in a uniform is a safe stranger. Certain strangers like a police officer, or a store salesperson, can be sources of help.
What does my preschooler need to know?
Your preschooler is naturally curious. However, your child is not always tuned in to others or to people’s intentions; your preschooler can easily be fooled. According to experts, it is important to help your child build the confidence and self-esteem needed to stay safe.
Teach your preschooler basic stranger safety tips
- Never go anywhere (walking or in a car) with someone you do not know.
- Do not accept anything from strangers, such as candy.
- Adult strangers do not need to ask you for help. If an adult really needs help, the person should ask another adult.
Help your preschooler learn
- His or her full name, address and phone number
- Who the trusted adults are to ask for help, such as child care providers, teachers, adult family members, police officers or store salespeople
- What to do if someone approaches you and makes you feel unsafe. It is OK to make a lot of noise, run away, scream, shout, kick or punch. They don’t have to worry about being polite.
- The NO-GO-TELL system:
- Say NO if someone tries to touch you or makes you feel scared.
- GO quickly away from the situation.
- TELL a trusted adult.
Make stranger safety part of your everyday life
To help your preschooler be “stranger smart,” role-play some scenarios such as:
- If a stranger asks for your help finding a dog
- If a stranger asks if you want to come play a game
- If a stranger said, “Your mom said it would be OK to go with me”
- If a stranger asks you to come close to the car to see some puppies
- If a stranger asks you a question while in line at the grocery store and I am standing right next to you
Practice these and other scenarios in a positive and reassuring manner on a regular basis to reinforce stranger safety concepts.
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