Who Are Strangers?
Strangers are people that both the child and their parent do not know. It is important that children learn that strangers can be men and women, and that you can’t tell who is nice and who is not nice just by looking at them.
Teaching the Stranger Rules
- Don’t talk to strangers unless you are with a grownup.
- Don’t take anything from strangers- not even things that belong to you.
- Don’t go anywhere with strangers.
- Strangers may try to trick us by telling you that they want to show you their kitten, they need help/directions, or they have been sent by the child’s parents.
It is important that children know that if a stranger tries to break any of the stranger rules they say “no!” run away and tell an adult who can help. Practice this with your child by using role plays or “What If…” games that help children practice the rules and become more confident.
The “What If…” game can be a fun way to help your children learn the stranger rules and what to do if a stranger breaks one of the rules. Always play the game with a non-threatening “What If…”, you do not want to scare your child. Give your child the chance to ask you questions, but do not respond by saying “don’t worry, that will never happen to you.” You do not want to give your child the impression that bad things can’t happen to them.
What If… Examples
- What if a man came up to you and asked you to help him find his kitten? He says that it got out of his house by accident and he is really worried it might get hit by a car. He asks you to help him look for the kitten. What would you do?
- What if a woman comes up to you when you are playing in your front yard, and calls to you, asking if this is your ball. She is holding out your ball in front of her so you can take it. You think maybe she looks familiar, but are not sure. What do you do?
- What if you are playing on the sidewalk with your friends and a person rushes up to your yelling, “You have to come with me right now! Your mom is in the hospital and I was sent to get you to take you to see her!” What would you do?
These are common things that strangers might say or do to get children to go with or near them. Help children practice the four stranger rules, and what to do if a stranger breaks one of the rules. Remind children that it is always okay to yell or make a scene if they feel unsafe. Politeness to strangers is not the most important thing, as truly nice stranger will not be offended if a child keeps a safe distance or runs away- they will know that the child is keeping themselves safe. Help children come up with a list of adults who they could talk to if a stranger approaches them or they ever felt unsafe.