ITSADELUSION: How to teach children to avoid dangerous situations
Here are my ideas about how to teach children to deal with potentially dangerous situations, such as how to deal with strangers, how to say no to riding in a car with a drunk driver, and so on. This method also applies to other behaviors, such as cheating.
I am hoping that enterprising parents will post videos online showing them teaching their children using the steps below so that other parents can see exactly how this works.
1. Talk about the issues with your child.
2. Demonstrate the proper responses.
3. Have the child practice the proper responses with you.
4. Have the child practice the proper responses with other adults, including people your child doesn't know.
5. Start when your child is very young and repeat as the child grows older.
6. Practice together with your child's friends and their parents.
Step 1. Talk about the issues:
This has been discussed in many other forums.
Be sure to tell your child exactly what you want him or her to say in the situation. Have your child repeat the words back to you several times until he or she can say it easily.
Step 2. Demonstrate the proper responses in each situation that may arise:
Example with strangers Have your child watch while you pretend that your spouse is a stranger trying to get you to do something that you want your child to avoid doing. Then behave toward the "stranger" parent exactly as you wish your child to act. Use the exact language and behavior that you want your child to use. Later, have a person the child doesn't know act as the stranger. Repeat this several times for the child to see.
Example with texting Have your spouse or a friend sit in the car's drivers seat and take out a phone to text. Respond the way you want your child to respond.
Example with getting into a car with a chemically altered driver Pretend that your spouse is drunk or high and going to drive somewhere, and he or she is asking you to get into the car as a passenger. Respond the way you want your child to respond.
Step 3. Have the child practice the proper responses with you:
Step 4. Have the child practice the proper responses with other adults, including people your child doesn't know.
Do this exactly like in step 2, but with the child being put into the situation and responding.
Do this exactly like in step 3, but with some of your friends, including some that your child doesn't know, as the "villian." If you practice with other children and their parents (see step 6), have the adults bring along a friend so other children can practice with a complete stranger.
Step 5. Start when your child is very young and repeat as the child grows older:
Step 6. Practice together with your child's friends and their parents:
I'd start all issues, including driving related issues, when your child is around age 3 or 4, and repeat at least yearly. Discussion and proper responses must be age appropriate, with your child understanding very little and mostly learning and repeating simple responses when very young. I'd keep practicing until the child is at least 17 years old.
Children are often together when potentially dangerous situations arise. If children practice the proper responses to these situations together, they are more likely to support each other and act appropriately when a dangerous situation arises.
1. When you practice, be sure that the person who is role playing the stranger tries very hard to convince you or your child to behave inappropriately. Use every persuasive tactic you can think so your child learns to deal with the most convincing strangers or peers.
2. The strangers in practice situations should be both men and women. Children may respond differently to each gender.
3. Try to practice in a realistic environment. For example, practice stranger avoidance in a store or outside their school. Practice anything to do with driving in or around the car.
4. For peer pressure issues, such as responding to a driver who decides to text or talk on the phone while driving, it is important for your child to practice with other children his or her own age and a little older, and with both boys and girls. Children who are older than your child are likely to be more persuasive than same age peers, and child often respond differently to each gender. Find the most charismatic, charming, persuasive adolescents you can find to play the "villain."
5. Regarding strangers:
6. Regarding texting and talking on the phone while driving:
-Teach your child to never engage a stranger. Regardless of how much you have told your child, or how much he or she has practiced, the more your child talks to a stranger, the more likely your child will do what the stranger wants your child to do. This is true at any age.
-Language: Children should use simple language that is not engaging or provocative, such as politely saying "No thanks, I'm not going to talk to you. Please go away." If the stranger persists, the child should repeat a phrase such as "No thanks" over and over in response to whatever the stranger says. Children should never give reasons for their behavior, such as "my mom said I shouldn't talk to strangers," because a stranger can use this phrase to engage the child. For instance, the stranger might say "I'm not a stranger, I'm your mothers good friend," or "your mother's really smart;what else has your mother taught you?"
-Behavior: Children should physically disengage the situation by walking away, if possible, or turning away and engaging some other task such as talking to a friend. If the child carries a cell phone, I'd have him or her call you immediately if the stranger persists. It is important that the child knows how to physically disengage a stranger. It is important that the child has something else that he or she can do if approached by a stranger. If a child stands idle after being approached by a stranger, waiting for the stranger to go away, the child is more likely to eventually engage the stranger.
-If your child sees or hears about you talking on the phone or texting while driving, chances are very high that your child will also talk on the phone and/or text while driving, regardless of anything else you say or do.
-Install an app on your cell phone that blocks calls while you are driving. Every time you get into the car with your child, activate the app and tell the child exactly what you are doing. Say something like,"This app will stop anyone from texting or calling me while we're driving. I always use it because it's very dangerous to talk on the phone or text while driving," or, "There, incoming calls are blocked so we can drive safely." When the child is old enough, give them the phone and have him or her activate the app every time your drive together.
7. I recommend starting this process when the child is 3 or 4 years old. It is more effective to teach children when they are young, and especially before they reach age 10 (puberty). The more children are taught about adolescent issues when they are under age 10, the more likely they will do what they are taught when they become teenagers.
8. If you want your child to act a certain way, then you act that way and be sure your child knows that you act that way and why. Children mimic their parent's behavior. Even if a child only hears about a parent's behavior, but doesn't see that behavior directly, he or she is likely to mimic it.