Stranger Danger: How to teach your child to be safe

Fall can be so much fun with pumpkin patches and trick-or-treating but, as every parent knows, children can sometimes wander the moment you’re not looking.  Here are a few tips that may help you teach your child to not get lost or walk away with strangers.

  1. Before heading to a crowded place, put a note in your child’s pocket or a bracelet on their wrist with your name, phone number and address.  Set expectations with your child and discuss why it’s important to stay together and always to let you know before going somewhere.
  2. Discuss with your child what they should do if they ever lose you.  For example, instruct your child to approach adults with children and ask for help.  Rehearse with your child the words to use when asking for help, and practice giving the note or bracelet with your contact information.
  3. Research shows that in many cases, kidnappers will use a confident and assertive voice to ask a child to follow quickly, saying something like, “Your mom is over there, let’s go quickly to her.” Most children immediately follow the assertive command, even when they know that it’s forbidden to go with a stranger.  Practice an appropriate response for a situation like this with your child.  Try role-playing, using an assertive voice to try to walk your child away, and rehearse your child’s reaction.  A child screaming loudly will likely bring attention.
  4. If your child is very young or tends to wander off, you may consider using a safety harness backpack.

I hope these tips will be helpful to you and that you have a wonderful fall with your family.