Stranger Danger

Ahhhh, stranger danger. The kind of conversation every mother eagerly awaits to have with her children. On pins and needles. Really. I never really thought about it much until reading Mama Kat’s funny conversation with her kiddos. Baby Bug is three now, and we do run around a lot, especially in the summertime, so she should be prepared, right? Before you say she’s too young, this kid is incredibly smart. Incredibly friendly. And loves gum. At church, she will ask every mother picking up a child in the nursery if she has gum because her own mommy does not (whoops!). Problem? Maybe not so much, but it would’t hurt her to learn a few things. Heregoesnothing.

I started off by asking her if she knew what a stranger was. She said no, and I explained that a stranger was someone we didn’t know.

A: Do they have guns?

Do they have guns?! Not exactly what I was expecting, but I knew where the question came from. The other day we were listening to Wee Bible Songs in the car and the song, “I’m in the Lord’s Army” was playing. She asked me what artillery was (lyric: “I may never shoot the artillery”) and I told her it had to do with guns, which led to the gun conversation. Fun times. Back to strangers.

I explained to her that while most strangers are not dangerous and do not have guns, there are some that are dangerous and may have guns. I asked her what she would do if we got separated at the park and someone approached her and asked her to come with him; she said she wouldn’t go. We made up a song. “You don’t gooo with people you don’t knooow. You don’t gooo with people you don’t knooow.” It’s catchy. Pick any tune you like :) I said but what if the stranger tells you his or her name and says you’re not strangers anymore? She replied with the song. Good on her.

Child predators are tricky little…uhm…nothing nice to say, so I wont’ say it, but they’re tricky. They will introduce themselves, befriend our children, and take them away. I tried to explain to A, that no matter what, she was not to go with someone unless she had clear permission from mommy or daddy beforehand (I know relatives and friends may need to pick her up one day, etc, but go with me. We’ll add concepts as we go). Even if she knew his or her name. Even if s/he said mommy and daddy said it was ok. We would let her know ahead of time should she need to go with someone else.

I decided a little role playing might illustrate the point better. I pretended to offer her gum (gasp! will she go or will she stay?!) and asked if she wantd to pet the pretty kittens in my car. She wavered. She did. But she firmly finally responded with “I say no I don’t want to pet the kittens cause I don’t go with people I don’t know.” Yes!

She started coming up with her own scenarios like, “If a girl at the aquarium (yes, aquarium) says can I have some trick-or-treats I’m sposed to say noooo.”

A (as the stranger): Do you want to come see my puppy?

Me: No thank you, I don’t go with people I don’t know.

A: But it’s a really cool puppy.

hahaah :) For a three year old, I was pleased with our progress until I asked her why we have to learn this. Her response? “Because strangers have guns and hurts us.” Yikes! I’m not sure yet where I stand on this particular outlook on strangers. I don’t want her to live in fear, but I do very  much want her to live aware. So far she’s not traumatize and it hasn’t been brought up again :)

It was good for our first foray into the wild and scary reality of stranger danger.

We’ll keep working.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog…love it – Steelers blanket, go Steelers!

    Talking about strangers with the kiddos can be tricky. My fear is Aiyana unlocking and opening the door when someone knocks while I am in the shower. One day, my husband was almost home from work and I was about to hop in the shower. I figured we would test her out. I had him ring the doorbell to see if she would open the door. She totally passed the test. She came running in the bathroom to tell me someone was at the door. Yay! Now, when Chloe is older, I am sure she will open it right up and invite anyone in. That girl is fearless!


  2. Posted by CStoll on March 22, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Great job, Mama!! What a smart little one you have, I am always amazed at her insight and intelligence :)


  3. Posted by Michelle on March 22, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    You are doing such a great job with A. I’m truly impressed with your teaching skills and the song!! Very creative.

    Here is a scenerio and it’s a true story. About 10 years ago, I was in Ritter Park and this little boy got separated from his mom and I found him. He was terrified and I’m all for not speaking to strangers, etc….but I had to help him; couldn’t just ignore him. I was in fear myself because I didn’t want anyone thinking I was harming the boy or trying to kidnap him. I was at a loss.

    I decided to sit with him, told him my name, and said we would wait for his mom or dad to find him. I’d say within 10 minutes his mom came running. She was shaken, upset but relieved I stayed with her son.

    I’m a “good” stranger. But, I also knew if his mom didn’t come along soon, I would have to go to a police officer, something….

    I have no idea how, but would you want to teach A what a “good” stranger is? Clearly, this would be something that is very last resort b/c you don’t want her talking to someone who may cause her harm.

    I don’t remember how I was taught, but I did recognize the difference in a good/bad stranger. I also wouldn’t leave with anyone (not even a relative) unless I was clear it was ok prior.

    You are a great mommy…


    • This is true, for sure! I definitely think as we talk about it more, as she gets older, I may try to add more ideas. I’ve been thinking of telling her to find another mommy, with kids there. So tricky!


  4. Posted by Dixie (mom) on March 22, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    I think the song was great and you probably have covered enough for now. Might want to go over “not taking candy or gum” or any food from strangers. Could have bad stuff in it like Halloween candy. The scenarios were great. They say to practice like this with your children. Not enough just to tell them. Good going!


  5. Okay, this is going to sound creepy, but I was talking to a friend whose husband is a cop the other day, and she was saying the most important thing to tell children is that mommy and daddy are safe and are not going to be hurt. Most child predators will tell the children they have to go with them or he’ll (she’ll) hurt the child’s parents, so it’s important for the child to know that’s a lie. I’d never heard that before, so I thought it was an important thing to share.


    • That is very unsettling, but of course makes sense. I have told her that even if someone says “mommy or daddy said its ok” not to go, but I hadn’t thought of that scenario. Sucks :(


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