Talking to Children about Stranger Danger

The first lesson parents would want to give their child is how to be careful in case they encounter a stranger. They tell their children stories of how strangers kidnap children or give them dangerous stuff, as well as advise them to be cautious in such situations. Although these stories are healthy to some extent, sometimes they can have a negative impact on a child’s mind.

Some children are very sensitive and they should be treated accordingly. When you warn your child about strangers, if you mistakenly form an incorrect image of someone, that image is likely to stay in your child’s mind for the rest of his life.

The first and foremost lesson to teach in this context is to tell your child the exact definition of a stranger. Oftentimes children do not consider some people as strangers simply because they have seen their parents talk to these strangers. The image of a stranger in a child’s mind is usually someone who looks somewhat suspicious and tries to be extra sweet with the child.

It is good to forbid your child from taking anything from a stranger, especially when it is something like food. However, there are nice people around and so parents should avoid putting a generally negative image of strangers in their children’s mind.

There are instances when approaching a stranger is safe and warranted. For instance, you can teach your child to identify the “safe” strangers — these are the security guards, salesmen, clerks, waiters, and such that your children can approach should they ever get lost or separated from you.

Some important things to remember are:

  • Most of the time, abductions are committed not by strangers, but by those who know the child, such as a relative, neighbor or friend.
  • Strangers lurking around to kidnap children are very few and most of the time they look for chances in desolate, far-away places where children rarely go
  • Children who appear confident and who do not appear fearful are less likely to be approached by kidnappers

Precautions should be taken in all cases. Do not let your children travel alone or come back from school on their own. When playing in the neighborhood, ask someone you know and trust to take care of the children. Tell your children that it is not counted as bad manners to refuse taking something from a stranger. However, they should do it with confidence and try to move away without raising suspicion or causing embarrassment.

These and other similar steps should be taken to protect your children from a mistrustful society. It is good to tell your children that the world outside is not a safe place, but at the same time, you should also help them understand that that not everyone is bad. After all, when they grow up, they would have to go out on their own and mingle with people. Therefore, a balance should be maintained when teaching your children about strangers.