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Preschoolers & Kindergartners What a fun time in life! Time to learn 123's and ABC's. At the same time, they're leaving that babyhood we'll miss so much!

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Old 09-26-2002, 04:19 PM
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Stranger Danger--Do You Talk To Your Kids?

My son will be 5 at the end of next month and for the past year, I have been trying to warn him about stranger danger. The problem is that he is VERY outgoing. He loves to talk to people....anywhere! Many people find this enlightening that he can carry on a conversation like an adult but its starting to make me very nervous.

We have set boundaries around our house where he knows that he is allowed to go. He knows that he is not allowed out of the yard at all without us knowing about it and that he is never to go up to a car that would happen to pull up next to him or in front of the house. He knows not to talk to anyone that comes to the front door if we arent nearby. I have even gone to the point this summer to tell him if someone comes to the door and the door is open ( during the summer and just the screen door is open), shut the door and get me immediately. I have also told him that if he is ever in a situation where someone that he doesnt know tries to touch him or grab him, he is to scream, kick, punch, bite, scratch....whatever it takes to get away or to bring attention to him. Over protective? Maybe but Im not taking chances.

The problem is that even though he knows the rules, Im not sure he would put them into action, especially if a stranger would pull up in front of our house ( where he feels safe) and call to him to talk to him.

Any suggestions on others ways to handle this? Would you ever test your kids by asking someone to play that role to see what he would do? Some people have made comments that I have made my son unsure of himself because he asks me if he is allowed to talk to people, if he's allowed to walk up to someone walking down our street......I dont think we are doing anything wrong by making him cautious. What do you think?

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Old 09-27-2002, 05:02 AM
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I struggle with this too. My four year is very outgoing and EVERYONE is his friend from the trashman, the worker guys to the waitress at the Pizza Hut to the person standing in line, to anyone he sees! I love the spirit but I worry about him too. I've talked to him about strangers but he still doesn't get the concept and tells me that this person or that person isn't a stranger.

I'll be anxious to see what suggestions and thoughts other's have. I have older kids but I don't remember this being so much of an issue with them.
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Old 10-12-2002, 10:52 AM
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stranger danger

First of all, please keep in mind that there are NOT more child abductions these days than in years past. The numbers are actually down. The media did a good job of scaring us all this summer. The cases were all very tragic but there were not more of them than usual. Secondly, I have been raising kids with all of this in mind for 20 years. It doesn't hurt for kids to be afraid of people they don't know. I'd also teach my child how just because you meet someone once or twice it doesn't make them a "trusted" friend. Trust develops over time by example, etc. My kids were always allowed to say "yes, ma'am", "no, sir" or "thank you" when strangers complimented them or asked them a question but like you I trained them to never, never go anywhere with anyone and that it's okay to "scream like a girl" when someone you don't know touches you or tries to get you to go somewhere with them. I don't think you can be too cautious. In closing let me say this: My five are all successful, well-adjusted, not neurotic, outgoing, normal young people. They're also light years ahead of some of their friends in maturity and level headed thinking. And yes, I do allow them to go out into the world. I don't worry because I feel like I spent the necessary time to train them to be cautious but not afraid. Good luck to you. You sound to me like you're doing the right thing.
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Old 10-12-2002, 11:52 AM
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My daughter was the same type of child, outgoing and bright and curious. That's a joyful kind of child to have, but they sure do present some special challenges!

First thing to do is make sure he knows what a "stranger" is! he may think a stranger is someone you don't know but once you say hi, they aren't a stranger anymore! One thing that makes it hard for a bright child to grasp this is that it is likely that he sees YOU talk to strangers all the time, people in line with you in the store or the bank, etc.

What we did was explain that almost all the people out there in the world are nice and good and friendly, but there are just a few who are not; and when you grow up, you will have more experience in telling the good ones from the bad ones, so in the meanwhile, we have to ask you not to talk with people till you have an OK from Mom or Dad.

Then we played role-playing games, lots and lots and lots, while driving in the car. My daughter was very into being polite, and not ignoring a stranger, not answering questions, so it did a lot of good to practice ways to be pleasant but not get engaged in conversation.

Some kids handle hard-and-fast rules just fine, others need to grasp the intricacies of why. Sounds like your son is the latter and I encourage you to make a fun game out of teaching him this safety skill.

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Old 10-12-2002, 12:19 PM
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It is a fine line we parents walk and each child is different.

I allowed the children to be friendly with people we met *together*. We also did the "people in my neighbord" song to see who was always there. Mail man, grocery store clerk, little lady down the street etc.

They were not allowed to answer the door because there might be a stranger there and they needed a big person to look through the peep hole.

When they walked away from me in public I would calmly warn them by saying "Stranger Danger" and that meant for them to come close to me.

What do strangers do to little ones? "They lock them up in the closet and won't let them come home." That is scary enough for any little kid.

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Last edited by lindaljh1; 10-12-2002 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 10-12-2002, 04:04 PM
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We have been lucky, so to speak, that so far our two oldest children (6 and 2) have been shy with strangers, however, our 2-year-old is a wanderer and that is scary. We have considered testing our 6-year-old to see what he would do if a stranger wanted him to come with them. I'm glad to know we aren't the only ones!

Anyway, I wanted to tell you a story. Several years ago, back when Donahue was still on, they did a show about teaching kids about stranger danger. They actually did go to a mall and have someone they hired approach children and try to get them to go look for his dog, or get some candy, something like that. They filmed the child's response and then approached the parents and showed them what had happened. There was ONLY ONE child that did not go with the man. The whole audience was whining about how you shouldn't scare your kids, but when the mom of the one child who said no was asked how she trained her child her response was, "I scared the pants off her."

I have also been told I am very overprotective of my children, but I'm with you, better safe than sorry. And I don't think it will make them neurotic, I think it will make them practical, and that's not a bad thing. Keep it up, mom!
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Old 10-12-2002, 07:50 PM
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stranger danger

We taught our oldest all the regular rules about strangers but added a little twist. We let her come up with a special "password" that only she, her dad and I knew. If a stranger approached her and didn't know the password she knew to run away, not go with that person etc. This works great because the child can come up with something special to them that will be easy for them to remember and nobody else will ever guess. We role played too in order for it to sink in.
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Old 10-13-2002, 03:32 AM
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Exclamation Outgoing daughter...

Our daughter is VERY outgoing. She makes friends with everyone and everyone just loves her. BUT, we have taught her that she should never go with anyone unless she asks us first. This past summer with all the publicized kidnappings, we let her watch the news with us and also read the articles on the internet and it scared her a little. We talked about it almost everyday for a few weeks about who she should go with and what to do if someone tries to grab her. Now when you ask her, she says "You kick him as hard as you can where it counts and run like crazy screaming at the top of your lungs!" Well that might work but I told her that she should just not talk to everyone she sees and just because you say "Hi" to someone doesn't mean you know them. So hopefully she will remember that.
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Old 10-13-2002, 06:07 AM
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Our children are 12 and almost 8. Both have always been bubbly outgoing talkitive girls. We have never told them "don't talk to strangers" because it wasn't appropriate. They talked to strangers all the time!

But the type of conversation they were allowed to have was limited. They could accept compliments or talk about the weather, or an event they are sharing ( a parade, etc. ) But they couldn't tell their name, or where we live or anything else personal about themselves besides their age.

When they were very little, we taught them that a "Stranger" was anyone that doesn't know them! "If a person needs to ask questions about you...they are strangers!"

As they got older It progressed to someone they don't know a lot about.. It you don't know their last name, where they live, the names of their family members, or what kind of car they drive. then they should be considered a stranger as far as not "getting involved " in conversations with them or going anywhere with them or onto their property, near their cars etc.

At about the age of 3 or 4, the mantra of "When a grown-up needs help, he/she asks another grown-up for help, not a child." began. "If a grown-up asks you for help to do something, I want you to run and get me right away"

We would do "what-if" scenarios. I would dramatically act out a distraught woman, weeping and saying "I lost my puppy in the park! OH Please! Help me look for my puppy! She's brown, and white, and she ran toward the bushes! Pelase! Hurrry or I won't ever see her again!...Come on kid!!"

I'd say to the kids..."What do you do?"

and they would shout "GO GET YOU!!!"

When they were older I'd say a man would drive up to where they were playing and jump out of a car shouting "Quick! Your mom was taken to the hospital! Hurry up, get in the car! I'll drive you over!" I'd even complicate it by giving it twists like asking what if it wasn't even a stranger, what if it was XXXX from the school, or XXXX from around the corner, or a man in a uniform of some kind,,,especially from a hospital or ambulance corps? What would you do?"

At this point they know "safe houses" : neighbors that they can go to. The response it that they would go there and call the police and give the description of the car and the plate number.

(If there was a true emergency, we have a family password that we use. )


Once when my oldest was about 3, she and a few other neighborhood pre-schoolers were playing on the front lawn, being supervised by a 10 year-old mother's helper. I was in the house, doing dishes at the sink, and could see outside. My car was at the curb, the kids were on the lawn and a red pick up truck pulled up just to the other side of my car at the drive way. the driver was leaning way out the window reaching out and waving the kids over to him, calling "Hey kids, come ' know where Mike lives? Come 'ere, I can't hear you..Hey com on! Come 'ere!" The 10 yr old babysitter, didn't let the kids approach him. She grabbed all four kids and held on to them. In a flash, I was pushing the screen door open, dish suds dripping from my hands. The driver looked up at me and sped away. The truck was never even in park. He was ready to move. I got only a partial plate number but called the police anyway. It was the most chilling experience of my life. I had visions of him grabbing one of the kids and pulling them into the truck through that open window as he sped off...just whichever kid got close enough first...totally random and cruel...Thank G-d the sitter was there and had the presence of mind to literally hold the little guys back from that shiny red truck. The whole episode took less than 15 secconds from start to finish. That fast, and it could have changed a lifetime.

She became my regular babysitter for the next 8 years. Even at the age of 10, she had great presence of mind and instincts. I don't know if we can teach that or not, but the bottom line is we always need to be watching. If the kids had been alone out there that day, one of them would be gone. I believe that with all my being. Having that 10 year old around for $2 an hour saved a life that day. It was money well-spent.

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Old 10-13-2002, 08:53 AM
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I have a four year old and have resently been tring to tell her about "stranger danger" but I think I may have went about it wrong or said the wrong things, because now she has nightmares about people taking her away from me...she now sleeps on the couch so she is closer to me and her father....Instead of helping her I think I scarded the HECK out of her......

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