Interacting with Strangers
Dr Gowher Yusuf
Hal 3rd stage, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
Don’t take candy from strangers” is an admonition millions of parents of pre-schoolers dish out to their young ones every time they venture from home without them. The warning is a valid one.
Children need to learn how to behave in general with strangers, just as they need to know how to interact with people with whom they are expected to socialize. Minimize the fear your child has of strangers by teaching her how to differentiate between saying hello and going with strangers, or following a strangers suggestions, for instance. Soon your child will have the security of knowing what to do when you’re there and when you’re not
PREVENTING THE PROBLEM
Establish the rules.
Let your child know your rules about interacting with strangers. A rule could be: “you may only say hello or no to people you don’t know. If a stranger ask you to go with him or tries to give you anything, say no and run to the nearest house and ring the door bell.”
Practice following the rules.
Pretend you are a stranger and ask your child to run to the nearest house to familiarize your child with following your directions concerning strangers.
Don’t try to frighten your child.
Fear only breeds confusion and doesn’t teach your child what to do. She needs to know how to think on her feet when strangers invade her privacy. Being fearful on a grand scale will destroy her ability to behave rationally.
SOLVING THE PROBLEMS
What to Do:
Remind your child of the rule by praising correct behaviour.
If your child says hello to stranger while you are present, tell her you approve of her following the rule. Says, “I’m so
glad you remember only to say hello. Remember, that’s the only thing you say to them.”
Encourage your child to be friendly
Friendly children tend to be more readily accepted by others as they go through life, so teaching friendliness is important. It’s important to differentiate (for young and older children) what, when, and how friendliness should be transmitted.
Show your child the proper way to be friendly by saying hello to the people, even strangers you meet on the street. Trying to teach children how to differentiate between strangers who are potentially dangerous and those who aren’t is impossible.
Even adults are often fooled by “normal looking” criminals. Add to each of your lesson some words about how to be friendly without going to strangers or taking their offers of candy, gifts, etc...
What Not To Do:
Don’t instill fear of people
To help your child avoid the danger of being molested, teach her the rule; do not teach her to fear of people. Fear only inhibits correct decision making, regardless of age.
Don’t worry about your child bothering others by saying hello.
Even if a person doesn’t acknowledge the greetings, it is good for your child to have offered a salutation at the correct time and place.