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Outlooks & Setbacks Saturdays

Dangerous Situations

How To teach Children About Danger

It’s a fine line to walk - teaching your children about danger without scaring them so much that they are afraid of everything.

I have 2 daughters, both of whom are quite sensitive; they are still small.  As I navigate teaching them about some of the dangers out there, I am often reminded that it is important for children to not have to shoulder worries and concerns that are too big for their undeveloped minds. 

Recently I read a Berenstain Bears book to my oldest daughter about strangers. It’s called Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers. If you are not familiar with this kid’s series, it’s about a family of bears - the cubs usually learn an important lesson in each book. In this particular story, Sister Bear learns about stranger danger. Papa Bear scares her by telling and showing her all the bad things that can happen if you talk to strangers. 

Sister Bear is then so afraid of strangers that she doesn’t even want to go play. 

It’s that fine line between teaching children what they need to know without giving them unnecessary information for their little developing brains. 

Eventually in the book, Mama Bear takes Sister Bear aside and helps her understand that most strangers are good people, but we have to be careful because we don’t always know.

She helps Sister Bear to understand the danger without being afraid to continue living life.

So how do you strike that balance between teaching them what they need to know for their own safety and letting them be naive to many of the dangers out there?

I don’t know if there is an easy answer to this question. It depends, like so many things in life. Some children are much more sensitive than others, and some are much more fearless than others. They are all so different.

I do believe that we have to always remember to be age appropriate with what we teach our children and how we teach it. That’s why books and reading is such a great way to learn. There are quality books out there on just about every topic imaginable for every different age.

So the next time you are wondering how to teach your child about a dangerous situation, look for a book - it might be your saving grace.

Recommended Book

The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers

Oct 27, 2010
ISBN: 9780375989407

Interesting Fact #1

How to teach children: Say it early, often, and very clearly.


Interesting Fact #2

Make sure your child knows it’s OK to say no to people. It doesn’t matter if your child knows the person or not.


Interesting Fact #3

Have a list of steps your child can take the moment an uncomfortable situation happens.


Quote of the day

"Safety doesn't happen by accident." - Unknown

Article of the day - How To Teach ‘Stranger Danger’ With Facts Instead Of Fear

Teaching a kid about “stranger danger” isn’t as simple as telling them strangers are bad and calling it a day. In fact, the idea of stranger danger is vastly overblown: The majority of child abductions and sexual abuse cases are committed not by strangers, but by people in a child’s life — and most missing children are not kidnapped but have run away from home. Child safety experts recommend a more comprehensive approach that goes beyond stranger danger — one that teaches children to recognize suspicious behaviors regardless of the context.

A Situation Doesn’t Have to be Strange for it to be Dangerous

“The most important thing that parents need to know is that 93% of sexual abuse against children is perpetrated by those known to the child — meaning family, friends, and those they know in their environment, like teachers and coaches,” explains Elizabeth Jeglic, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the City University of New York Graduate Center, and author of Protecting Your Child From Sexual Abuse. “We are targeting the wrong individuals when we teach our children about stranger danger. We are better off teaching our children about consent and that no one should be touching them without their permission.”

How to Teach Your Child About Strangers

  • “Stranger Danger” isn’t enough — 93% of childhood sexual abuse is committed by an adult known to the child.
  • Offenders can look like anyone — A third of abuse perpetrated against minors is committed by another minor; 10% of offenders are female.
  • Don’t accept rides from anyone — Adults have no business asking a child to get into their car.
  • Consent is key — Kids need to understand that they control who can and cannot touch their bodies, and they can leave when a situation feels wrong.
  • Talk about it — Kids need to practice saying no and telling an adult when someone touches them in an inappropriate manner.
  • Back them up — When a child decides they don’t want to be touched, either in a tickle fight or when they meet Aunt Edna, parents need to respect that.

Every Situation Has Potential Stranger Danger For Kids

Kids should be wary of strangers, and the fundamental stranger-danger best practices are sound: Don’t get into a car with a stranger. An adult has no business approaching a child in a car and asking them for help finding a lost pet, or offering them candy, or claiming a mysterious emergency.

How to Prepare Kids for Stranger Danger Situations

Role-playing different scenarios gives kids a chance to practice protecting themselves. Despite what the day-to-day experience of negotiating broccoli and bedtime may suggest, defying adults can be very daunting to a child. But the response to anyone who tries to push a child into a situation that feels wrong — from a stranger on the street to a friend’s older brother — is the same: Get away and tell a trusted adult.

“The best option is to teach children to trust their instincts in how to handle situations that make them feel uncomfortable — like what you do if you are at a friend’s house and someone there tries to touch you, or show you inappropriate material — and then role-play the situation with your child,” suggests Jeglic.

Parents also need to make sure that they support their kids when they do exercise control over their bodies. Scolding a child for not kissing a distant relative can send mixed messages about what they control — it can even make them feel ashamed about not wanting to be touched, which can be a big problem.

“You want them to not feel shame if something happens to them — that you are there to help them and support them, no matter what,” advises Jeglic. “Teaching them to trust their instincts and supporting their instincts — not letting other adults hug them or touch them against their will — will help them to better handle situations and report to you when such situations occur so an adult can intervene.”


Question of the day - Do you struggle to know how to teach your children about danger without causing them fear and anxiety?

Dangerous Situations

Do you struggle to know how to teach your children about danger without causing them fear and anxiety?