Teach your children the Traffic Light of Safety.
Children learn at a very young age that a green light means go, yellow means slow down (unless you’re from New Jersey where it means gun it before it turns red) and red means stop. So it is easy for them to understand the Traffic Light of Safety.
Green = Go. It’s safe to play
Yellow = Caution. Something isn’t right. Get to a safe place now.
Red = Stop! You are in danger. If you can’t get to safety, Defend Yourself!
The goal is to always be in a Green situation. When teaching self-defense classes, I give the following example to my young students.
You are playing with your friends at the park. Mom or Dad is nearby and can easily see you. This is a green light. Go ahead, it’s safe to play.
While playing, you wander past the big bulky jungle gym to the other side of the playground. You can’t see Mom or Dad from here, which means they probably can’t see you either. And look, there is a stranger nearby watching you play. There is no immediate danger, but something just doesn’t feel right. This is a Yellow Light. Caution. Get back to safety. Find Mom or Dad. Tell them what happened. It may turn out that they know the other person. He’s a dad whose kid is also playing at the park. Or they may not know this person, and will keep a watchful eye on him.
What happens if the stranger calls you over? He says he’s lost his puppy and asks you to help find him. This is a Red Light. Adults don’t need to ask kids for help. They can find another adult to help them. Get to safety immediately. Don’t talk to the person. Don’t make up excuses for why you can’t help, just run to safety. If you feel you must say something, yell, “Have to ask Mom” WHILE you are running away.
What happens if the stranger grabs you? This is an obvious Red Light. You are in immediate danger. You must do everything you can to get back to safety; punch, kick, bite, pinch, spit, and scream.
If you yell “No! Stop,” people in the area may not help because they think you are a naughty child who doesn’t want to leave the park. Yell “Help! Stranger!” Or “I don’t know you!” or “Help! You’re not my Dad.” Let everyone in the area know you are in danger.
Keep in mind that you can use the Traffic Light to illustrate other scenarios with children of all ages, and adults too. Try using this analogy with your teen when discussing Internet safety, partying, alcohol, drugs, or sex.
Please share any examples you come up with in the comments section.