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STRANGER DANGER: Tips to Keep Children Safe
As parents and caregivers, it’s very important to keep our children safe. We must teach them who they can trust and who to stay away from. Educational Psychologist, Dr. Michele Borba, offers some excellent tips to help teach kids about staying safe:
#1- Give permission to say “NO.”
It’s a common parent lesson, teaching your child who they can trust and who to stay away from.
Studies show that kids under the age of nine rarely say “No” to a sexual offender because they were told “to obey adults.” So, give your child permission to yell NO! Tell your child, “If someone tries to touch you in places your bathing suit covers, makes you feel at all afraid or uncomfortable, say ‘NO!’ “It’s important to let your children know they won’t get in trouble for saying “NO.”
#2- Help your child practice a “strong” voice.
This helps children in situations that might be threatening, as well as help them stand up to peer pressure. It could be like the firm/stern voice you use when asking them for the 10th time to clean up their rooms. Teaching your child how to be assertive with their tone of voice can help peers and adults know they are serious.
#3- Establish a family secret code.
Choose a memorable code like “Geronimo,” to give only to family members or trusted individuals responsible for your kids in your absence. Then tell your child: “Never leave with anyone who can’t say our family’s secret code.” You can also create a texted code (like “111”) to be used by the child to contact you if they feel in danger.
#4- Recognize suspicious adult behavior.
Teach kids to recognize suspicious adult behaviors such as: Asking for help: “I need help finding my child. Please help me!” “Can you help me look for my puppy?” Explain to your child that strangers shouldn’t ask kids for help. Offering treats: “Would you like some candy?” “I have a skateboard in my car. Would you like it?” “I’ll let you have one of my kittens, if you will sit on my lap and watch this video.”
Feigning an emergency: “Hurry! Your mom was in an accident. I’ll take you to the hospital.”
The best advice is to discuss these topics with children in a relaxed way just as you would talk about other safety concerns like using cross walks or pool safety. The best time to start these talks is when children are young, such as 3 or 4 years of age. Don’t forget to practice and rehearse these safety tips with your child. It isn’t enough to tell them, practicing will help your child remember and learn these strategies so if they ever need them, they can react quickly and safely. At KYDZ NATION, we are nurturing children, families and our communities.