Halloween is a time for fun and exciting costumes, trying to scare others as well as getting to go out trick-or-treating with your children, but as your children get older, around 4 years of age (from my personal experience) it is time to talk about dealing strangers. Here’s some tips for talking to your child about strangers and staying safe on Halloween.
Talk about the concept of strangers when the opportunity presents itself.
My son and I were at the park playing in the sand. A few adults walked by and he stopped and said hello to them. I thought that was really sweet, but then realized that he doesn’t know what a stranger is and the potential dangers of a stranger. So I asked him if he knew those people, he told me no. Then we continued our conversation.
Some keys words to use could be: stranger danger; if you don’t know them then they are strangers. Read a book or watch a YouTube video about strangers. Develop a safe word or a password.
Talk about situations your child needs to avoid.
Talk about not going home with anyone unless you tell your child who is picking them up. Role play stranger scenarios with your child and talk to your child specifically about someone approaching them and asking them to help them. For example, some predators may say “I have lost my dog,” show a picture, and ask them to help them to lure a child away to a secluded area.
For Halloween Night:
- Make sure you stay close to your child, or have them buddy up.
- Stay on streets with street lights. Or ensure you have a flashlight with you that works.
- If your child is old enough and is going with a group of friends…
- ensure they have a cell phone;
- have them give you a map of where they will be going;
- if you know neighbors, tell them to expect your child, and if they do not see your child, to call you.
- Remind children to NOT go into a person’s house; stay on the doorstep.
- If a stranger tries to have a conversation with your child, tell your child to ignore them if you are not there.
- If your child is handing out candy, ensure they are not home alone. If they are of age to be home alone, make sure that they have a cell phone and a number to where you will be and emergency numbers. It is also a good idea to have a whistle in the house to use in case someone pushes their way inside.
- Make sure the child knows that if they feel uncomfortable around a person, run away and yell.
This is a tricky subject to discuss with children are it is important that we do not scare them. Talk to your child and make sure you do it calmly, and have time to answer all of their questions.
- Stay positive when talking to your child
- Answer all their questions
- Tell your child what to do if a stranger approaches them
- Develop a safe word