Teaching Toddlers About Strangers
Author: Heather Montgomery
“Stranger danger” is a phrase used to describe the risks a stranger poses to your child. Unfortunately, strangers look like anyone else; someone who could hurt your child does not have any specific, pre-identifying features. Our children look at the world as having two types of people: good guys and bad guys. Teaching our children to recognize strangers, how to deal with them, and who to trust is paramount to their protection.
Teach your toddler that anyone they do not know is a stranger. That seems like an obvious concept, but toddlers are generally friendly people. Explain to your toddler that unless you or another trusted adult introduces them to the stranger, that stranger should be avoided. Try not to scare your child, use familiar words and act out scenarios to teach them to recognize strangers. Giving them the tools to deal with strangers is also helpful to making your toddler feel comfortable.
How to Deal with Strangers
One of the most important concepts to teach our children is to trust their intuition. If they feel anxious or scared by a person, they should avoid contact with that individual. In addition, explain to your toddler that they are responsible for only themselves. If an adult needs help, they should get that help from another adult. Your toddler is not responsible for helping an adult find a puppy, or any other task.
Choose a password for your child to remember. Teach your toddler that if a stranger approaches them and uses this password, that they are safe to talk to. Make sure the password is something important to your family, and cannot be figured out by a stranger.
Teach your toddler your name, their name, as well as their address and phone number. If your child gets lost, knowing this information may be critical in locating you.
Who to Trust
Teach your child that a few people are “safe” for them to trust. These individuals include police officers, firefighters, teachers, and doctors. In addition, they can trust anyone who tells them your password.
Teaching your child about strangers will be a continual process. Practice with your child, test your child, and be open with your child about strangers. As they become older, add new concepts and tools to help them handle strangers.