Toddlers are too young to be street smart on their own.
You can help them develop self-protection skills and learn to be cautious, but you also have to take responsibility for your toddler's safety.
It doesn’t help to tell your toddler 'never talk to strangers' because unfortunately, children are most likely to be harmed by someone you know - a friend, family member or someone else in your child's life. To help protect your toddler:
- Always know where he or she is.
- Never leave your toddler with anyone unless you thoroughly trust the person.
- Stay well informed about possible dangers in the community.
Streetproofing can help prepare your toddler for greater independence by teaching good sense while near traffic, around strangers or lost. You can help streetproof older toddlers by teaching them how to react to situations that could be dangerous. Make sure you and your toddler practice what you teach, which should include:
- His or her first and last names.
- Your first and last name.
- The proper names for genitals.
- The name of the street you live on.
Check With Me First!
Toddlers often love talking with people and giving and receiving small gifts and treats. With your support and supervision, being around people your toddler doesn't know can be a positive experience - learning how to trust is a part of normal development. One way to safely help your toddler learn about the world is the "check with me first" approach:
- Teach your toddler to check with you or a caregiver first before going anywhere with anyone or accepting a gift or treat.
- Let other caregivers know you use this system so they can also help your toddler learn about safety.
Resources & Links:
HealthLink BC: Your Toddler: Safe Ways to Explore
For more safety tips, check out the online Health Canada publication “Is Your Child Safe?”