If your children are begging for a little more independence, yet you’re worried about keeping them safe when out and about in the big wide world, then it’s time you took them through the rules on stranger danger.
When talking to your kids, it’s important for them to understand that not all people unknown to them are necessarily dangerous – they simply need to know the difference between ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ strangers. Examples of ‘safe’ strangers may include police officers, security guards and teachers, for instance – people they can turn to if they need help.
“The single most important thing to remember when teaching your children about stranger danger is to instil confidence, rather than fear,” says Roshi Tandon, an early education specialist and director of Chubby Cheeks Nursery Dubai. Here are Roshi’s top tips:
1. It’s important that kids know their name, address and phone number. If they’re not capable of remembering this information, then they’re not ready to be out on their own yet.
2. Once they are out and about, make sure they use the buddy system - they should avoid walking anywhere alone, so make this a rule that can never be broken.
3. Tell them to trust their instincts. If they have an “uh-oh” feeling, feel they are being followed or that something is not right, they should seek help immediately.
4. Make sure they know that if a stranger approaches them, they do not have to speak to him or her. They don’t have to be polite if someone makes them feel scared or uncomfortable. It’s okay to say NO… even to a grownup.
5. Also tell them to never approach a stranger in a car and that if someone they don’t know is trying to get their attention, to just keep walking. The same goes for accepting sweets from a stranger – it’s a no! Ultimately, the key message is to never walk off with a stranger no matter what he or she tells you.
6. Teach your children: Safe grownups don’t ask kids for help (they go to other adults if they need assistance). If any grownup is asking you for help, they are not a safe grownup and it’s OK to say NO to them.
7. Explain that if they ever get lost in a public place, they can freeze and yell, or go to a mum with kids and ask for help.
8. Let them know that if someone is following them, they need to inform a trusted adult as soon as possible.