Teaching Our Kids About Personal Safety Without Scaring Them

Robin Sax
May 13, 2009

The key to keeping such talks from being scary is for parents to assume that body/personal safety discussions are not scary. Just because we, as adults, have myriad worries, we needn't convey our fears to our children. However, there are things kids must know before they dive into the world of independent adults.

Just start the discussion. It's never too early to begin to give children information that can help them stay safe. Treat personal safety like any other parenting lesson-find appropriate times, don't tackle too much at a time, and consider the child's personal development and understanding. And above all, do not use fear or scare tactics to educate children. This can often backfire. Empowering, not scaring, children is what allows them to handle the situation, while fear tends to make them freeze and may actually disable them if they need to act in an emergency. The only thing that should scare you is not teaching or talking to your children about personal safety.

As trite and overused as the expression seems knowledge truly is power. I am not suggesting that parents need to tell kids about the gruesome details of every case in the news or drill their kids with statistics. But youngsters need to have a solid understanding of how they can defend themselves in age-appropriate ways. For example, children should know whom to approach if lost in a store (another mommy) or what to scream if someone is trying to abduct them ("You are not my dad! Help!")

Here are some guidelines for preschool appropriate personal safety lessons.

Teaching Points for 3-5 Year Olds


Your body is your own
  1. Know the names of the body parts
  2. Distinguish between good touches and bad touches
  3. You can say “No,” “that’s not ok,” or “don’t touch me there.”
Tell your mom or dad if someone has asked you to keep a secret.
Say no to gifts, candy, or bribes
You can say “no” to candy, gifts, or anything without asking a parent first.
Listen to your inner voice and trust your instincts
  1. You can listen to your tummy or the inner voice inside when something feels “icky” or wrong.  
  2. You can tell mommy/daddy if you feel that icky feeling, even after it’s happened.
If you are lost
  1. Look for a mommy.
  2. A mommy is someone who is with kids.
  3. Know your name, address and phone number.
There are grownups who can help
Always tell a grownup if you feel scared or uncomfortable!
The one person you can always tell
Always tell a teacher.
Venturing out
Check in and report in. Tell your Mom or Dad when you’re finished doing one thing and are starting another thing.

Communicate with your children by talking, listening, and observing
Listen to what your kids say.



Learn more about the work Robin Sax has done to protect children at RobinSax.com.


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