Aside from our own health and well-being, those of us with children also have to be aware of what impacts theirs. Aside from helping them live a healthy lifestyle, we do have to talk about the risks that, unfortunately, still face all children out there. We can watch over them as much as possible, but at some point, we have to talk about strangers, the risks they represent, and how to talk to them about it.
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Establish the basic rules of safety
First of all, your child might not have a concept of danger that they’re yet fully aware of. Teaching them about the basic rules of safety is always recommended. Staying close to trusted adults when possible, not going anywhere with anyone who isn’t a trusted adult, and teaching them about boundaries for their body, that no-one is allowed to touch them anywhere without their permission, are all examples of safety rules they should know.
Don’t keep it just about strangers
When defining strangers, be careful you don’t label them as too scary. They’re not someone the child should think is good or bad, just someone they don’t know yet. Moreover, don’t just talk about people they don’t know. For instance, child abduction isn’t always done by strangers. Instead, there is a widely used term: “tricky people” that refers to people who try to get them to break the rules of safety you have established. Defining adults they can trust and tricky people is important.
Play out scenarios
Sometimes, instead of simply telling them how to behave, you should instead use examples. You can act out scenarios with other family members or with their toys and dolls. Be sure to ask them what should be done in certain scenarios, and praise them a lot if they get the answer right. Acting out scenes is a very effective way to teach children, but storybooks and cartoons that delve into these subjects can also be effective. Don’t just make it something you talk about. Find new ways to address the subject in a calm and helpful way.
Teach them about their instincts
Children get suspicious, just like everyone. However, they might not know what this feeling is. Labelling it as their “uh-oh” feeling, and using examples of when it makes itself known, such as when a big dog barked at them, for example, can be very helpful. If they have a defined “uh-oh” feeling, then they can recognize it when it happens, and look for a trusted adult the next time they feel it with another person. Children are more intuitive than we give them credit for, they just need to know how to trust their instincts now and then.
It’s important that we talk about the risks that come not only with strangers, but even people our child might be familiar with, in a way that keeps them aware, but without ending up with them scared of everyone they meet. Hopefully, the tips above can help you do that.
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