Talking to your kids about “stranger danger”

Now that kids are back in school, it’s a good idea for parents to have conversations with their little ones about “stranger danger.”

And if you’ve never had that talk before, you may be wondering what to say.

“When we talk about ‘stranger danger’ we have be careful. We don’t want to create anxiety and fear of your child, but you want to balance that with their safety and their security,” explained Richard So, MD, pediatrician for Cleveland Clinic Children’s. 

Dr. So recommends explaining to your child that there’s never a reason an adult would need a child’s help finding something.

He said it’s also a good idea to go over some scenarios where a bad person might ask them for help.

For example, they might say they lost their puppy and need help finding it.

They may try to entice them with treats or even electronics.

Dr. So said it’s also important to teach your kids who the “good people” are like police officers, firefighters and teachers. Or someone with a badge at a store.

Another helpful tip can be to come up with a family password. If someone tells the child, even if it’s someone they know, that they are there to pick them up, they need to know the password.

“I tell my patients to have a secret family password that is only between your family, so if someone comes up to my child and says, ‘Hey your mom is running behind, she’s at the hospital, she was in a car accident, she told me to pick you up.’ My kids are trained to say, “Hey, what’s our secret family password?” he said. 

If your child gets lost and they see a family with children, Dr. So it’s okay to tell your child they can ask another parent for help. Most parents would happily lend a hand in that kind of situation.

Source: Cleveland Clinic News Service, October 5,2022

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