Teaching preschoolers about stranger danger requires discussion and role playing. Children growing up in safe environments with loving, caring adults may not understand that some adults can cause harm. They need to be explicitly taught to identify a stranger, to know the potential dangers of talking to strangers and to act correctly if approached by a stranger. Give children a variety of situations to role play and discuss until they are confident with these concepts.
Discuss with children general rules to apply to strangers. Rules might include: A stranger is an adult you do not know; It is OK to talk to a stranger if you are with a trusted adult; Never tell someone your name or where you live if you don't know them; Never accept candy or animals from a stranger; Strangers may look like normal, friendly people; Never leave with or follow a stranger anywhere no matter what they tell you; If a stranger tries to grab or touch you, run away yelling "Stranger Danger" as loudly as possible.
Write the rules on a large chart paper with a marker to revisit during role plays and future discussions.
Provide different scenarios for children to role play. Scenarios might include: "You are playing at the park, your mom is busy pushing your baby brother on the swings and you are on the slide when a friendly looking man you don't know asks what your name is." Or, "You are playing in the backyard with a friend when a woman runs up telling you to come quickly because your mom is hurt." Give children ample opportunity to practice what to say and do.
Read and discuss books with a stranger theme. Try "The Berenstein Bears Learn About Strangers." Before reading, ask questions like, "Have you ever been approached by someone you didn't know?" or "What would you do if a stranger tried to give you something?" Stop to discuss important concepts while reading. After reading, ask questions to review what the characters did when they were approached by a stranger, how they felt and what the children learned from the book.
Provide coloring worksheets to reinforce concepts. Visit the Activity Village website (see Resources) to access a variety of stranger-danger coloring pages and booklets.
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