As parents, it can sometimes feel as though everything is a potential danger to our children. Cars, hot kettles, sharp knives, small objects, strange dogs – you name it and we’ll fret about it. Of all the scary inanimate and animate things, however, other people are perhaps the scariest of all. As our children grow and become more independent, teaching them about stranger danger is vital not just for their safety, but also for our own peace of mind.

Simply telling children not to speak to strangers can cause confusion, such as when they start school and are faced with an unknown teacher. So here are a few of the things that you can say to help your child make sense of different situations.

• Stay close to Mommy and Daddy or the grown-up you are with in public places like the park or the stores.

• Always stay an arm’s length away from someone you don’t know. If a grown-up gets too close, then move away or run for help. If they try to grab you, kick and scream as hard as you can.

• You can talk to someone if I’m with you or if I say it’s okay.

• Never take anything from a stranger.

• Never go anywhere with someone you don’t know.

• If you get lost, ask a police officer, security guard or store clerk for help. Stay where you are until someone finds you.