You tell them to always, always trust that oogie feeling in their gut. You teach them to act on it, even if it turns out later to be nothing, to cause a bit of uproar or embarassment or possibly offends someone.
Being a polite, quiet victim is NOT cool.
Sign 'em up for kiddo self-defense classes. Martial arts, if you can. I'm a firm believer that muscle memory and fast reactions save the day, heaven forbid someone does decide to try to harm them. The discipline and concentration helps center kids, too.
Then you tell them life is precious, and that if you don't live it, and move freely in this world, the bad guys win. Be as safe as you can, be as brave as you can, be free.
^^^^ +1...We did pretty much what RFR wrote above with our son.
Teaching our children "life lessons or street smarts" starting before entering kinder garden...that all people/strangers are not good.
When the family walked around the neighborhood, we picked out a "Big Tree" that we named, and if a big disaster happened, and we got separated, the Big Tree was our hiding and safe meeting place.
A few years later, Ben Johnston was stripped of his Olympic Gold record for the fastest man (100 yard dash)...when the shame aired on TV, we let our 6 year old son watch, what illegal drugs do...and see and feel the embarrassment on his family and entire Canadian country.
- I remember some of the office ladies thought we were wrong to expose a young mind to bad reality, I was kind of surprised by the reaction of some (parenting with rose colored glasses)
In grade2 our son started getting bullied on school recess.
I thought this was strange, as our boy was big for his age...turns out the bully was in grade4 and had failed a grade or two.
- so off to Karate we went, and in 3 years our son was a skillful brown belt...he also doubled up on all his classes while assisted the head black belt teach the junior class...he learned dedication and confidence
- soon he wasn't school yard bullied any longer...and the two other times confronted (in later years) only lasted a few minutes for the other grade7 and grade11 kid
Most of all, we prepared our young son for the truth in life (good or bad) and that his Mom & Dad always had his back and loved him...the equalizer.
- my heart goes out to the pain so many families (young and old) are feeling now, in Newtown, Conn