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Most kids, especially those with outgoing personalities are instinctively trusting of strangers and people in general. Even children who are shy tend toward trusting adults and most often women even if they are strangers. As kids an adult is intimidating and an automatic authority figure, little children always assume by default that adults are the authority and need to be taught that not all adults are treated equally.
When teaching young children, especially three and four year old preschool children about strangers you don’t want to sugar coat the dangers of real life, but you don’t want to overly frighten them either. You have to explain to them on their level about good people and bad people.
My son was always into super heroes and had a clear Good Vs Evil concept in his head, but we had to explain to him that bad people don’t always look like bad people, you can’t tell by the clothes they wear, or the way they act. Bad people can act and look like good people and still think like bad people, so you should never trust a stranger. We have told our children that you always be polite in saying Please, Thank You, and Hello if spoken to. However, unless the person is one of your family you never go with a person, or answer any questions that probe.
Kids have good instincts and I let them trust those instincts as well, if you are uncomfortable talking to someone say excuse me and that you aren’t supposed to talk with strangers. Explain to your young children to never accept items from a stranger who offers them candy, money or treats without asking mom or dad or a family member first. If no family member is around say “No, Thank You” my mom isn’t here and I can’t accept anything without my parents knowing about it.
Don’t try to have one 30 minute sit down session with your young kid at once, do like weekly reminders. Once a week set a good 5 or 10 minutes aside to pop quiz your child in hypothetical what-if scenario’s. Role playing with your children is the best way for them to understand the different types of scenarios that can happen, so they can see and anticipate how to react to them. Remind them often until they answer 100% of the time and are sure and confident of themselves.
There are too many dangerous people out there, and it is imperative that we all teach our children to be careful and wary around people they don’t know.