Teach Your Child: Stay Put!
Though most safety information is geared toward children ages 5 and older, experts agree you should talk to your preschooler about safety now. "It's never too soon as long as you're approaching the topic in a developmentally appropriate way," says Walter Gilliam, PhD, director of the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, at Yale University.
While it's true that most preschoolers don't play outside or walk around alone, they still need clear information about what to do if they become separated from you in public. Here's a five-point safety plan taken from various experts and recommended for young children.
While most parents teach their kids to never go with a stranger, their understanding of this concept is often murky. Gilliam explains, "Preschoolers think of a stranger as someone who's 'scary' or 'bad,' so a friendly or nice person may not be seen as a threat by a young child."
Samantha Wilson, a former police officer who founded kidproofusa.com, says that teaching our kids "don't talk to strangers" is actually the biggest mistake parents make. "Instead, we have to teach kids never to go anywhere with anyone without asking their parents' permission first." This is the lesson we should reinforce as soon as we begin speaking to children about safety. It's clear and easy to understand, even for preschoolers.