Yell, Run, & Tell

A few weeks ago, there were several reports of attempted abductions of young children close to the area where I live. The attempts were made on primary age children and parents in the village were in a state of panic. My eldest daughter is four and I trawled the Internet for advice on approaching this very difficult of conversations with such a young child. Here is a selection of advice on how to talk to your kids about "stranger danger" that made our conversation much easier.

Mom talking to daughter

Prepare beforehand

It is easy in a situation where emotions are heightened such as when there has been a recent attempted abduction or similar situation to launch directly into the conversation without having a clear idea of what it is you want to say. Think about it beforehand and be prepared for any questions that your child may have.

Be specific with your advice

Young children in particular may find it hard to take in large amounts of information at once and can easily become confused if instructions are too detailed. Advice from the direct.gov website suggests telling children the following:

  • Tell your child to avoid talking to people they don't know when you are not around
  • Tell your child not to walk away with anyone without telling the person in charge
  • Make sure your child knows never to avoid telling you if a stranger approaches them.
  • Tell your child that if they get lost to look for help from a policeman, shop assistant or another grown up with children
  • Encourage your child to learn their address off by heart

Adapt your language

For a child as young as four, it is important to think about the language that you could use to approach the subject of stranger danger. I approached the topic with my daughter by asking her what she thought she should do if a stranger started offering her sweets. This then left the conversation open for me to give her advice on what she should do in a situation where a stranger approached her. The advice from the Kidscape organisation is useful for young children.

  • Yell
  • Run
  • Tell

Expert TipsKidscape recommends to "teach little ones that it is okay to yell if they feel frightened, to run towards other people and to tell them what has happened".

Check understanding

With young children, it can be difficult to know if they have absorbed the advice. With my daughter, I encouraged her to tell me what she should do if a stranger talked to her, by asking her to repeat it back to me. As a mum, I felt better knowing that she had retained the message.

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Tags: safety tips

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