Author: By Dr Steve Buys, Specialist Counsellor
I’m often asked by parents how to teach their child to feel safe around strangers without causing fear. So in this article I will talk about some ideas you should consider when you talk to your kids about this subject.
Most, if not all of us, have been warned about “stranger danger” and have taught our children the same thing. While this is good and important for them to know, I also think it is important for us as their parents to model what that looks like.
Here are some ideas:
Ask for their consent often
Asking for your child’s permission to touch them or come into their personal space can be this simple. You can ask such questions as: “May I brush your hair?” “Can I have a hug?” and “Is it OK if I hold your hand?”
Does this mean you have to ask for their consent every time? There are times when we need to take control and not ask permission such as when your child is about to run into the street, it may not be the best time to ask for permission to hold their hands.
Teach them that their “no” matters.
Sometimes our children need us to be more considerate of their personal space, time, and boundaries. So look for ways you could ask, rather than demand that your child engage with you.
Instead of saying, “Give me a hug goodbye,” rather ask your daughter, “May I have a hug goodbye?” And on the days your child says “no” or their body language indicated “no,” you should say, “That’s cool. If you ever want a hug, I’m here. I love you. Have a great day.”
Being more conscious of how our child feels about healthy touch from us will make them more confident to resist unhealthy touch from others.
In our next article we’ll explore more ways to help our kids feel safe.