How do you teach your child to identify good strangers from the bad? Read on to find out one mummy's scary encounter with a bad stranger in a local shopping centre!
I think I speak for most mums when I say that we constantly drill it into our kids that they should not to talk to strangers.
Young children often have difficulties relating danger to a friendly and warm person, compared to someone who is scary and nasty. The single most important thing to remember when teaching your children about stranger danger is to instil confidence, rather than fear.
You want to equip your child with the knowledge and strategies they will need to protect themselves in dangerous situations.
Singaporean mum, Nancy Goh, recently told us about her children’s encounter with a stranger at a local mall in the East of Singapore.
Nancy shared with us that while at the mall, she was at the koi pond area feeding the fish with her son and daughter. Thinking that Singapore was considered as a ‘safe place’, she left her kids to play and feed the fish at the pond for about 10 minutes, before returning.
She said her daughter had informed her about a lady who had approached them earlier, asking them if they knew where she could purchase the bag of fish food. She highlighted that the lady spoke Mandarin, was alone, and did not have any kids with her. Nancy’s daughter notified the lady of the fish food dispenser just outside the koi pond enclosure, but the lady told her that the portion was too small, and said that she wanted the bigger packet – just like the one they had.
Her daughter then told her of the nearby pet shop that sold the exact same fish food, and the lady asked for directions. According to Nancy, her daughter had pointed out the directions to the pet shop, but the lady had instead asked for the 6-year-old son to bring her to the pet shop. Thankfully, her daughter noticed something amiss and had stopped the boy from going with the lady.
After the whole ordeal, she was left very disturbed, and naturally so. Nancy shared with us, “I’m grateful that my kids are safe and I’ve learnt not to take things for granted.” She is considering talking to the mall’s management to look into the CCTV to help identify the lady. It took her a few days to get over the shock of the whole incident.
We are glad for Nancy’s daughter’s quick-thinking which kept her and her brother safe.
*theAsianparent obtained Nancy’s permission to share her story, in attempt to convey to parents to be very careful not to leave your kids alone.
Stranger danger lessons
While teaching your child about stranger danger, it may seem a little rude when your child ignores someone simply because he or she does not know them. How do we, as responsible parents, educate our children to be able to differentiate between ‘bad’ strangers and ‘good’ strangers?
In situations like this, safety trumps manners. It is better for your kid to risk being “rude” in order to ensure his safety. If it turns out the adult was a friend or acquaintance, they will understand.
Let your child know that ‘good’ strangers don’t try to take them away from where they are. If someone starts a conversation with him and tries to bring him somewhere, let him know that this is not okay and that he is to alert you or another adult nearby, immediately. Teach your child that it is never okay to follow anyone he doesn’t know, even if the person claims to be a family member.
How do we teach our kids about strangers?
- Teach your child to be assertive, and that he should never follow anyone that he does not know
- If anyone starts to grab him, he should yell for help
- Seek help from a trusted adult (security guard, shop assistant) if he gets lost or if he feels uncomfortable with a stranger. Many shop assistants in Singapore are willing to help, especially when it comes to children
While sharing the above tips with your child is extremely important, the best way to teach stranger danger lessons is through role-playing scenarios.
Role play the following encounters and fit the circumstances of your own neighbourhood and surroundings:
#1 Children waiting for the bus or a ride home
Someone approaches your child and says, “Your mother is sick and she asked me to come to take you home.”
- Teach your child never to get in a vehicle with someone they don’t know
- He should immediately return to the school and ask the principal or a teacher to use the phone to call you and confirm that you have sent the person to pick them up
#2 Your child is home alone and the doorbell rings
- Teach your child to never answer the door when he is home alone. Tell him to ignore the doorbell and avoid looking out windows.
#3 Your child is at the playground under your HDB block when an unfamiliar adult calls out to her by name. The adult asks her to come over to talk with him.
- Your child should never be at the playground alone.
- If your child does not know the adult, she should shake her head no and quickly walk away to a safe place.
What are your thoughts on educating your children on not talking to strangers? Do you know some great Stranger Danger role playing scenarios? Share your comments below!