Seeing your child get over-friendly with strangers might be a cause of concern for you. But it is normal for your little one to behave this way because they can’t specifically identify a safe from an unsafe person. They may show affection toward anyone who gives them attention—including someone who may potentially be unsafe. Therefore, as a parent, it is your duty to start the stranger danger education from an early age.
This way you inculcate the knowledge of the rules and safety tips that they should know to protect themselves from strangers. However, sometimes even this cannot protect vulnerable children. Just as it happened with this mum.
Jessie Harris Bouton, recently shared on Instagram a terrifying incident of how a stranger in a COVID mask picked her three-year-old daughter from her preschool. Her viral post garnered a lot of attention and highlighted some crucial aspects which we as parents sometimes ignore.
Mum Shares Terrifying Experience After Stranger Picks Her Daughter From School
Mum Jessie Harris Bouton shared her 15-minutes ordeal when her child was picked up by a stranger from school | Screengrab: Instagram
When Jessie went to pick up her three-year-old daughter Lola from preschool, the teacher told her that Lola’s grandpa had already picked her up. This sounded odd because Jessie hadn’t asked him to do this.
“And when I pressed the teacher a bit further, she explained that Lola was reluctant but she assumed it was because Lola was disappointed I hadn’t picked her up,” she wrote in her post.
To her shock, she came home and found Lola was not with her grandfather.
Jessie was frantic. She had no idea where Lola was. It was difficult for the teacher or Lola to identify the person correctly because he was wearing a mask. After she enquired with her other family members to be sure that they hadn’t picked up Lola, she headed back to the school again.
This time, Jessie was fortunate to be reunited with her daughter.
“The teacher handed her to another grandpa who regularly picks up his granddaughter – the masks caused confusion. Yes, it’s crazy that the man didn’t notice it wasn’t his granddaughter. Yes, it’s crazy the school doesn’t have a policy in place to ensure a mistake like that doesn’t happen,” a furious Jessie wrote.
While, Jessie had the most difficult 15-minutes of her life, she wants no other parent to go through what she experienced. In her post, she warns other mums that kids need to be given stranger danger education, and more so during the pandemic, when people have their faces covered with masks.
Protect Your Children From Masked Strangers!
Jessie mentioned that luck was on her side, but not everyone is as fortunate as her. She wanted other mums to learn the following things from her post.
Talk to your kids about stranger danger with masks
Teach them it’s ‘okay’ to ask to see faces if they aren’t sure it’s somebody they know
Tell them that adults can make mistakes
They must speak up and use their voice if they think something isn’t right
As a parent, take some time out to reach out to your child about stranger danger education. In case, you are wondering when is the right age, we have the answer for it.
What Is The Right Age For Stranger Danger Education?
Children as young as 3 or 4-years-old may begin to have an awareness of what it means for somebody to be a stranger and to understand why they should not trust them. The moment they start going out to play alone or attend school, you know it is the right time.
If you are wondering that you may end up frightening the kid with this information, always remember to take a calm and rational approach. Sit them down and explain stranger danger with an example.
Yes, it is a terrifying subject, but the intention should be to educate your child. Don’t create an unnecessary fear in their mind that may come in the way of them interacting with any strangers.
Tell your children not to talk to any strangers when they are alone. Image courtesy: iStock
As a parent here’s how you can introduce stranger danger education to your kid.
Tell them that they should never go anywhere with a stranger
They should never accept gifts from a stranger
Tell your child it is okay to break the rules if they are in danger
Encourage your child to yell, kick, scream or run away, if they feel they are in danger
Tell your child to stay with their friends and not to go to the park our outdoors on their own.
3 Practical Ways To Talk To Your Child About Strangers
Encourage your child to trust his/her own instincts. | Image courtesy: iStock
As a parent, you tell your kids umpteen times: “Don’t talk to strangers” or “Don’t accept anything which they give.” But by merely reiterating the statement you are not helping. Here’s how you can talk to your child about strangers.
Use a calm approach: It is normal for you to panic. But as a parent, you need to address the issue calmly. Explain to them that a stranger is somebody your family doesn’t know. Explain that (however) it is okay for your child to talk to someone new, only if you are with them.
Teach the importance to trust their instincts: Encourage kids to trust their own instincts. Teach them that if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or if they feel like something’s just not right, they must walk away immediately.
Help your child memorise emergency contact numbers: Your kid should memorise emergency contact numbers, yours or your partners, and a common home number as well. Make it easy for them and help them learn phone numbers.
Stranger danger education is not about teaching your kids what they should do to stay safe from strangers, but it is also about helping your kids have a positive attitude that can help them overcome any terrifying situation.