Practical lessons: how to behave when the child meets a stranger

Today we want to talk about how important it is not only to talk with the child about safety rules, but also to teach the child to respond correctly in practice by providing specific exercises if a stranger approaches him on the street, playground, elevator or entrance. 

We strongly recommend for parents to conduct such practical exercises with the child at home in order to develop an automatic response skill in case of a dangerous situation. 


Practice 1. 

“Shout training”: Go out to a deserted place (to the forest, to the river, etc.) and invite the child to shout loudly, very loudly, as much as he can. Turn it into a game, fool around, have fun. After that, calmly, without undue anxiety, tell him that in the event that someone is chasing or trying to grab him, he also needs to shout – as loudly as possible, without delay. Often children become stunned and unable to scream because they are used to behaving well in public places. But attack is not that case. The child need to know it.

Practice 2. 

“Self-defense skills”: Find a time and show the child what to do if someone is trying to grab or drag him on the street, etc. Ideally, this should be demonstrated by a man (whatever one may say, statistically they attack more often). Let the child have minimal self-defense skills. Teach your child the rule: “hit, run, report.” Explain that his task is to distract the attacker and run away, and not to engage in combat with him at all. Therefore, any tricks will do: throw sand in the eyes, hit the arms and legs with a stick raised from the ground, and if the child is grabbed, use a trampling blow on the stranger’s leg or bite the arm if they grabbed the neck. And run immediately. Have a male member of the family work out with your child. It will take at least a few sessions with practicing situations so that the body remembers the actions, and the memory puts everything on the shelves and the brain can quickly respond to danger. And then from time to time you may try to maintain the skills at home, in the format of the game. 

Practice 3. 

“Keep your distance”: The bottom line is to teach children to talk to strangers at a distance of  1.5 meters (this is the distance that prevents close tactile contact). You need to practice at what distance it is permissible to approach strangers so that in any incomprehensible situation the child has the opportunity to run away. To do this, you can ask your friend (whom the child has never seen before) to approach him and start a conversation about something – so you check how much he had learned the information, and together you can correct mistakes if they were made. 

Distance is what can save a child, so enter the following rules: 

– If you are sitting and a stranger approaches you, you should stand up and use the bench as a barrier between you. 

– If someone tries to get too close to you, move away and ask very loudly: “What do you want?” A talkative child is much more difficult to victimize. 

– If you are coming back home, and a stranger comes into the entrance with you, let him go ahead. You can say: “I’ll wait for dad”, go outside, look for people. 

– If there are strangers in a closed space, for example, in an elevator, do not go there, wait until an empty one comes, or go up by feet.

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