Stranger safety awareness begins at home. As a parent, you can never start too early when it comes to teaching your children about safety in your home. You start by teaching what is “hot” – what might burn or hurt your children. You progress to “ouch” – a bump or a bruise. Perhaps one of the most important safety lessons comes when there is a knock at the door.
Practice with your children about how to properly open the door.
Teach your child to only open the door only when a parent is present.
Teach your child to ask the person on the other side of the door to identify themselves.
Teach your child how to “mirror” a stranger’s movement if they attempt to cross the threshold of the doorway.
We know it may seem a little early, but children start to express independence around age three. Answering the door becomes empowering for a child because your child can feel responsible taking on a task normally handled by you. You can help them understand the importance of not doing it without you by practicing the following activities.
A very important lesson to introduce to your children is a safety technique called “mirroring”. Start by showing your child what happens when they look into a mirror. Point out that what they see is their reflection. Make different gestures and show them that their reflection follows everything they do. This is very important for the next step.
Once they understand how their reflection works, you can them show them how to effectively mirror anyone. A good role-playing exercise is to play “simon says”. Teach them to follow your movements exactly. See if they can pay attention by not saying “simon says” a few times, to get them to listen more intently. Now that they can copy you, or “mirror” your movements, you may now introduce them to the final step: mirroring a stranger.
Pretend you are the stranger – remind them that they do NOT know you. Explain that they are going to mirror everything you do, but this time backwards. Your goal is to get them to move away from you with every forward movement you make. If a stranger takes one step toward your child, they will take a step away from that stranger. If a stranger takes two steps toward your child, teach your child to take two steps away from that stranger. Finally, if a stranger starts to run toward your child, you teach them to run as fast as they can away from that stranger toward an adult they can trust!
By constantly reminding your children about these techniques, you can make stranger safety awareness a daily habit in your home. Please watch our “Not Too Close Encounters” video and feel free to download it’s corresponding lesson plan on our free curriculum page. The more you practice stranger safety awareness with your children, the better they will be prepared if a dangerous situation presents itself!