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  • 3 Ways You're Not Helping Your Child Deal With Stranger Danger

    Trust your child to handle himself out on the real world on his own with your help.
    by Rachel Perez .
3 Ways You're Not Helping Your Child Deal With Stranger Danger
PHOTO BY iStock
  • As much as we want to keep our children safe in our homes, that's not parenting. There will come a time that they have to face the big world on their own. Maybe it won't happen in the near future, but it's best prepare them for the inevitable now. Delaying the inevitable is not going to help. 

    So how can you stop worrying...okay, we can't tell moms to stop worrying about their kids because they always do no matter what. Let us rephrase: how can you have peace of mind and trust your child that he will be okay on his own? 

    The easy answer is to teach your child how to properly deal with stranger danger situations. It's tricky, of course. It's not easy to teach kids how to recognize shady people and suspicious behavior. But it can be done! We just need to let go of some of the old ways and start empowering our kids instead.

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    Stop scaring your child into obedience 

    It's time to retire phrases that scare the child into obedience. Telling your child that a security guard will take him away and lock him up if he doesn't behave is not in any way going to help. People in uniform such as security guards or salespeople can help your child in case he gets lost in a crowded place like the mall.

    It's also cultivating fear in the children. When they're filled with fear, they may find it muster up some courage and be brave and take chances. Instead of telling them to fear other people, steer their attention to the positive side of human relations. 

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    You don't elaborate on the "don't talk to strangers" rule

    Security firm consultant Bert Tagamolila shared with SmartParenting.com.ph the solution is to just not to talk to strangers. Statistics show that child abuse is committed more by people that the child knows and trusts, such as family relatives and people from school or the community, and technically speaking, talking to a someone about directions is talking to strangers, so it can be confusing.

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    So you can adjust your rules to these ones instead. Tell your child...

    1. Never accept rides from strangers.

    He only rides with the one mom and dad assigned. Once a child is in the car, it's more difficult to get out and escape.

    2. Never accept any kind of food from strangers.

    These may be laced with sleeping pills or any drugs that will make your child feel groggy.

    3. Never do anything other people tell you to do without telling Mom or Dad.

    Tell your child it's a red flag when strangers specifically say, "Don't tell your mom and dad," or "It's going to be our little secret." They need to know this is a person who cannot be trusted when they say these things.

    4. Never give out personal details.

    This will be tough especially if your child is chatty. Try to tell him to avoid talking about his home address or school.

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    Stop shying away from meaningful discussions about consent

    "We are better off teaching our children about consent and that no one should be touching them without their permission," advises Elizabeth Jeglic, Ph.D., professor of psychology in New York and author of Protecting Your Child from Sexual Abuse.

    These are sensitive topics, but it is essential to start the discussion at home with you. It's the first step in giving them the skills to determine if they're comfortable or not. Teaching them how to say, "No" and "Stop," or scream "Help" means also touching on the idea about consent. It's as easy as teaching your child about code words. And you have to back them up. If your child says hugging is iffy, then don't force him to do it. 

    Use words that your child will understand. You can start by reading with your child storybooks that discuss similar topics and encourage your child to ask questions. It's critical to empower kids to handle themselves against stranger danger. 

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