Older children can handle more direct information about possible dangers whereas younger children cannot. Teens can also process a higher level of information whereas young children should be told in more general terms – keeping them aware without scaring them.
It is also important to talk to children in a calm and non-threatening voice. They do not need to be scared in order for you to get your point across. In fact, creating fear to “protect them” can actually have a negative effect, causing them to be constantly worried and unsettled. Speak in a soft and comforting voice when discussing safely.
The Most Important Thing The Child Needs To Understand
Also, remember that the concept of a stranger, to a young child, is often not clear. In addition, teaching them about stranger-danger is not a totally effective method as studies have shown that children are actually at a much higher safety risk when they are in the care of someone they know. What they do need to understand is that they should always tell an adult they trust if they are ever in a situation that makes them feel nervous or even just uncomfortable and confused. Remind them that it is ok to find someone who is willing to help and that it is right to want to feel safe.
Remind Them Often
Younger (and even older) children might need to be reminded to not get into a vehicle with anyone before checking with their parent or caregiver first – even if someone they know is driving. Have them ask to make a quick call and check if it’s ok. If the driver is truly there to help, they won’t mind.
Another important point with safety planning is letting kids know that it is better to remove themselves from a scary or threatening situation than it is to be polite. We teach our children to be courteous which can be confusing to them when some situations do not warrant respect. If they don’t feel comfortable, tell them to leave the situation. Don’t worry about how others will feel. Leave quickly and find or call a trusted adult.
Wading through the issues of child safety can be daunting if you aren’t sure how to approach the subject. Knowing your child, and how much information they can handle, is a good first step in the process. Talking them through possible scenarios, and how to react to each, is another great way to be prepared. Soon, you and your child will feel capable to handle any situation knowing you have a good safety plan in place.