As parents, we encourage our children to respect other adults, we encourage them to speak to the lady at the cash register, and to thank the person handing us our food at the restaurant. However, we also need to teach our children about the dangers of speaking to strangers. The world is not the same as it was when we were children, and while we don’t want to make our children fearful, we do need to be responsible for educating them on “stranger danger”.
Here are four ways you can teach a preschooler stranger danger.
- Teach them which strangers are okay to approach. Telling our children to “Not talk to strangers” is a blanket approach, and not the best way to do it. Instead explain that policemen and teachers are usually safe to ask for help. Also, moms in a store with kids or a store employee if you get separated are all okay to ask for help.
- Explain that accepting treats from a stranger in exchange for help, is never okay! Adults don’t ask kids for help, they ask other adults. Teach them to say NO and to run the other direction.
- Remind them to never leave a place without you, or with someone they do not know. Have a safe phrase that friends or family can use when unexpectedly picking them up from school or an event. This phrase can be used as a way to let the child no it is okay (or not okay) to go with the person.
- Role play! This is the best way to teach young children stranger danger. Pretend to be in a scenario, and explain what your child should or shouldn’t do in that situation. Examples would be getting separated at the grocery store, or approached by someone at the park. Make the scenarios realistic, but not scary.
Remember, that when we teach a preschooler stranger danger, we need to do it in a way that is not scary, but that is educational. Older preschoolers may be able to handle the lessons easier than a younger preschooler. Read the cues from your preschooler, and remember that the point is not to make them fearful, but to empower them to know what a stranger is and how to stay safe.
For more resources on how to teach a preschooler stranger danger, check out these posts: