Summer’s finally here, which means the end of another school year and the beginning of a long-awaited break. With warm temperatures and sunny skies, it’s the time of year when kids want to spend all of their time outdoors, and who can blame them? But while they’re innocently playing hide-and-go-seek and taking off on bike rides you might be anxious about potential dangers; most notably, “stranger danger”.
As parents, we want to give our kids age-appropriate freedoms, but we also want to ensure they are safe and aware of potential threats to their wellbeing. The thought of ill-intentioned people approaching our kids is scary, but something that can’t be ignored. It’s necessary to empower them with the right tools and information to protect themselves in threatening situations.
Here, are some “stranger danger” protection tips:
Teach them what a stranger is – Kids often perceive strangers as being “mean” or “scary looking”. It’s imperative to teach them that a stranger is anyone they don’t know; men, women and teenagers.
Teach them who to trust – It’s important to teach kids that not all strangers are bad. If they are ever alone and need help, they need to know who they can approach for help. Help them identify who they can turn to, such as neighbours, teachers, friends and family members.
Teach them to stay put if lost – Teach your kids that if they are separated from you, their caregiver or their friends, to remain in one place until they’re found.
Role play – Regularly act out different “what if” scenarios with your kids. Get them to respond to each scenario with strong language like “let go!” or “I don’t know you!” to give them the confidence to act it out in real life.
Encourage them to listen to their intuition – Let your kids know that if something doesn’t feel right, it’s Ok to say no and run away from the scene.
Have a family password – The potential for danger doesn’t just come from strangers, it could come from someone your kids know. Create a family password so if anyone, including someone your kids know, attempts to offer them a ride in their car or to walk them home, he or she must know the code before they’ll go anywhere with them.
Have a buddy system – Establish a family rule that your kids must always travel with a buddy if they’d like to go for a bike ride or walk up to the corner store.
Teach them how to call 9-1-1 – Teach your kids how to call 9-1-1 in case of an emergency. Also teach them pertinent information like their last name, your first name, your family home phone number and home address.
Teaching our kids about personal safety is important. While difficult to think about, it’s imperative that we give our kids the skills and knowledge to protect themselves in potential dangerous situations that may involve strangers and even people they may know.