It is hard to make your kids comprehend about the reality of life out there, especially when they’re just toddlers and preschoolers, who are filled with utmost curiosity and innocence. And when telling kids about whom to trust and not to trust, most of the times they hardly pay any attention to what parents have been trying to teach them. It does bother parents a lot when they have to let children start their preschool or even daycare, they get anxious which in turn affects the child and their social behavior.
A stranger is not always a foe who would snatch away your child, because in adverse situations it is the strangers who come for our help. But it is important that kids are alert to the people who tend to make requests or lure them by giving candies or freebies when parents or any responsible elder is nowhere see in the vicinity.
Parents need to step up and start teaching children about what is appropriate and what is not in situations involving strangers. It doesn’t make any sense to scare them which thwarts their social relations and stop socializing altogether.
Let us look at few steps that parents can take to help children understand the approach of strangers:
1. Begin with body safety – It is better to start early in a child’s life when it comes to teaching about their body. Teach them the names of their body parts and do tell them about private parts. Parents most of the times try to skip naming the private parts which may seem apt at this point of time but when the child has to name them in case there was sexual abuse it could be often confusing and no one can understand it.
There’s nothing wrong in mentioning the specific names of their private parts and do tell them that no one can touch theirs or take any photographs of it. Similarly, tell kids that even they shouldn’t touch someone else’s private parts if they’re asked to do it. If a stranger approaches with a request like this, they have to immediately excuse themselves from the situation.
It is not only strangers but also the people who are known to them shouldn’t ask for such favors.
2. Invent a code word – It will be of great help to kids if parents come up with the use of code words to use if they feel threatened or uncomfortable. Let the code word be unique but not too weird, in public places or when there are guests, relatives and friends kids can use the code word to let parents know that something is wrong and definitely doesn’t seem right.
If kids are at their neighbor’s home or at any friend’s place tell them that if they are not comfortable they must call them by using a phone (which can be obtained by request) and telling the code word. This method is very helpful for kids to come out of clutches of people who are very clingy and violate your child’s privacy.
3. Include the online scenario – While telling your kids about the strangers who walk up to them and talk you also need to talk about the strangers who are not physically present but can and will manipulate them according to their whims.
Children under the age of 10 are easily targeted by strangers online are bullied easily. It is better to monitor your child’s online activities from time to time and tell them that they need not keep any secrets from them especially if they’re asked to do by strangers.
4. Role play-Remind-Repeat-Rehearse – Your kids will not understand all the things that you say and most of the times are way too busy thinking about their playtime that they do not remember what exactly is expected out of them.
Involve them in the process, make them play any character and try to come up with a variety of situations so that children will understand that not all ‘Ok’ situations are ‘okay’. It mustn’t be done just once and then forgotten, it has to be a part of their weekly schedule, to replay things over and over again so that it is instilled in their minds.
5. Talk about strangers who can help – All along we tell kids about strangers who can harm them, but let’s say they lost their way and are out there without any help. In a scenario such as this, it is mandatory that they have to approach a stranger. Ask them to find people who are in uniforms: kids can differentiate between regular clothes and uniforms, like police, waiters, cashier of any store or can look for women with children, and it must be made a strict rule that no matter what others say they must NEVER get into their car or go with them.
Giving your kids the knowledge to face the world when you’re not in sight would be the best thing that a parent can do.