Simulation games are natural for today’s children, so it makes sense to use that instinct to teach your child safety. Role playing simply means setting up a scenario related to a security issue and letting your child act as if he or she were going to handle the situation in the real world. With the role play you help reinforce the skills you want your child to remember throughout his life.
When you play role-play with your child, you allow him or her to work through a potentially dangerous situation without any real danger. He is able to practice the skills you have taught him without waiting for the specific event to occur. For example, you can practice how to respond to an unknown adult who tries to force you into a car. Since they are just pretending that the situation is happening, he will not really get hurt, but going through the facts can help him if he ever finds himself in that situation.
The specific security issues for role plays depend on the age and development of your child. For small children, preschoolers and school-age children, potential issues include pedestrian safety, strangers, unwanted physical contact, fire safety, intimidation and getting lost. These issues continue to be a problem for teens, but some more complex safety issues, such as peer pressure, drug and alcohol use, safe driving, and pressure to have sex, can also come into play. Select the topics based on the problems your child is currently facing.
The goal of role plays is not to scare your child, but to teach usable skills. You do not need a complex configuration to represent a security problem. If a security problem appears in the conversation, adapt it to a role play while it is fresh in your mind.
Role play is an activity that you can do frequently with your child to reinforce safety issues that are relevant to him. Practicing security skills only once will not be as effective as reviewing the issues on a regular basis. After finishing the role play, discuss the issue with your child. Point out the things you did well. Provide suggestions for a better response if necessary. Once the child gets used to role-playing games, encourage him to suggest other scenarios.