Grownups understand the danger of strangers, but there's a good chance your little one is a trusting little soul. While you don’t want to shatter her positive view of the world, it’s important to teach her a few lessons about strangers to make sure she stays safe in any situation.
1 Explain what a stranger is to your little munchkin. Before you can explain to him how to respond to a stranger, he needs to know what one is. Start off with a picture game. Gather together some pictures of familiar faces, such as mom, dad, grandma and her big brother Joe. Clip out some pictures of strangers from magazines or newspapers. Add a few pictures of police officers into the mix as well to teach him about these good “strangers.” Lay out the pictures on your play surface or show him them one at a time and help him learn to identify the difference between someone he knows, a stranger and a police officer. As he gets older, you can incorporate other people into the “good” group, such as staff members if he gets lost in a store.
2 Act it out. What better way to learn about the danger of strangers than by acting it out? If you’ve got a little drama queen, she’ll be more than thrilled with putting on a little production and learning something to keep her safe at the same time. Come up with a stranger scene, such as someone approaching your daughter at the park. Before teaching her any lessons, act out the scene to see how she would respond on her own. Next, tell her a little bit about some more appropriate ways to respond and talk about why. Make sure you’re available long enough to answer any questions she has, which are sure to be plenty with a young, curious mind. Two of the most important lessons to take away from this activity? Never go with a stranger and always yell "Stranger!!!" when someone approaches her inappropriately.
3 Create puppets to teach him about the importance of the buddy system. He’s young now, but it won’t be long before he wants to venture to the park or on bike rides with friends. Create a puppet friend and explain to him the importance of having a friend with you at all times. You can make sock puppets, wooden craft stick puppets or even sock puppets. Use the craft time to explain to him that anywhere he goes, he should always make sure a friend is with him who can call for help if he gets hurt and to help dissuade strangers from approaching him.
4 Sing your family name, address and phone number to a familiar tune. If your little guy ever gets out of your view, you’ve taught him the importance of staying away from strangers and who to go to for help, but he needs a little more information to make sure he’s reunited with you quickly, safe and sound. Have him practice the song along with you to get it into his memory. While it’s impossible not to worry if he ever strays, you can rest assured he knows what to do to get back to you right away.
- Get Street Smart: A Kid's Guide to Stranger Dangers; Cindy Williams, et al.
- What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers; Melissa Harker Ridenour, et al.
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