Polish your child’s idea of a stranger. You can first start by asking your child “What do you think a stranger is?” Use their answer to expand on the true definition. For example, they may say that a stranger is a “bad person” that cab kidnap them. Reassure them that yes that can happen, but sometimes a stranger is just someone you do not know. They do not always have to be a good person or a bad person.
Show your child people that they can trust. Besides family members, explain to them that they can always go to help from other trusted figures besides their family, such as their friends’ parents, doctors, school counselors, etc.
Create some clear guidelines. Your child probably knows that it is acceptable to say “hello” to someone they do not know when Mom and Dad are close by, but they probably do not realize that they do not have to say anything to a stranger if they are alone. If your child doesn’t feel comfortable not speaking, then it is perfectly acceptable for them to simply say “I am sorry I am not supposed to talk to people I do not recognize.” Make sure that you are clear with your child, that they are never supposed to go anywhere with a stranger without permission!
Guidelines for using public bathrooms. By the age of 6, children are developmentally prepared to use public restrooms by themselves. When they begin using the restroom on their own, be watchful. For example, if your child has to go to the restroom in a crowded area, like an airport, make sure to stand outside the door if you are the opposite sex parent. Tell your child they can call out to you if they need anything. Also explain to them that if anyone offers to help them, just say “no thank you, my mom (or dad) is outside, and they can help me if I need it.”
Use role-playing to help prepare your child. Using “what if?” questions are a great way to prepare your child for unexpected situations. When you use this technique, make sure not to scare your child, and stay positive and lighthearted. For example, pretend with your child that they are outside playing in your neighborhood when a stranger approaches them. Ask them what they do, and then you can provide another safe alternative. Like, “or you could move closer to the nearest parent with kids around them that you see.”
Internet Stranger Safety. Chat sites are all over the internet these days, and to make sure your child does not wind up on one of these dangerous sites, place your home computers in common areas. This will help monitor their online behavior. Also talk to your children about never giving out personal information online.
Repeat. Make sure to reiterate these messages when an opportunity arises. There is no need to overdo it, but being open with your child is always the best tactic. Some great times to talk to your children about stranger dander are during Halloween, before you go to an amusement park, while you are visiting the zoo, or any other time you and our family are going to be around lots of people you do not know.