Many people think about talking to their kids about safety, but it is also necessary to actually practice some skills with them. I’m not talking about doing a fire drill or some planned practice event. Just everyday things you can teach them, and make them aware when they need to focus on those skills to gain new skills.
You can teach your children awareness in almost everything you do. Teach them to stand, walk, and play while being aware of their surroundings. Show them to walk away from strangers even if they are being nice by doing it yourself. Simply doing it, then saying something as simple as “Well they seemed friendly, but we don’t really know them, so I thought it would be best to politely walk away.”
Show them what to do when a stranger approaches them by doing it yourself, then talk about it, pointing out what you did, and why you did it. This will help them clearly understand what to do if it happens to them while you are not around. Show them how to say NO to unwanted or inappropriate behavior or advances. Use clear words, eye contact, and assertive body language when the opportunity presents itself.
Let your kids practice by mimicking what you did. If you are at a park or public place and a situation presented itself, let them practice doing the same. They’ll likely think it’s fun and they’ll be learning at the same time.
Practice getting away from potentially dangerous situations by letting them yell and run in mock situations. Tell and show them good verbal options to use when they feel uncomfortable and show them how to ask a stranger for help if they need it. Not all strangers are bad and helping them decide which ones they should go to if they need help is a great thing to practice.
If you are at a zoo, park, or in a public place – make a game out of it. Ask them to point out people they would trust to go to for help if they needed it. Engage in conversation with them based on their choices and show them alternatives if they chose a less-than-desirable person out of the crowd. Tell them why and who you would choose instead, but also let them tell you why they chose that person.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Make it fun and help them learn to stay safe!