Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stranger Danger

Lynden has really come out of his shell in the last few weeks.  He's a little more adventurous and social, it's a nice change. 

A few weeks ago my grandma took him to a puppet show in the park and afterwards he spotted some other kids running around and he wanted to go and join them.  This is huge for him. 

Last week my grandma commented on how tentative Lynden is around water and that we need to work on it.  The next day while watering the flowers all he wanted to do was run around the hose and get soaked. 

The following day he went fishing with Danny and played in the lake, no problems.  Again, this is huge.  And when we took him to the lake on Saturday he was totally comfortable playing in the water. 

We even went to the local water park last week and he was content playing on his own, not needing me to be there with him.  At the lake there was a park and he was happy to run off and do his own thing.

But, as a parent this opens a new door of concerns; strangers. 

While at the water park Lynden and I talked a little about what to do if someone he didn't know talked to him (say "no" and run and find mommy).  We talked about the fact they might offer him something (candy, car, ice cream, a puppy) and that it was important to say "no" and run and find mommy or daddy.  I also told him that if someone he doesn't know says "your mom asked me to come and get you" that he is to say "no" and run and find us.  I also stressed the importance of being able to see us and knowing where we are if he's off doing his own thing.

This was a little lost on him Saturday at the lake.  He wanted to go and play at the park, which we could see from where we were, but we didn't know if he knew where to find us so I walked over to the park to show him. 

Mild panic, he wasn't at the park. 

I called for him, calmly since I didn't want to go into full panic-frantic mode, and just as Danny was joining me in calling him Lynden came running over from the fire trucks that were on the opposite side of the beach from us.  Turns out he wasn't sure where we were so he went back to where we were earlier.  After that we had another quiz about strangers and sent him off to play again. 

It's a hard thing for a parent.  I want him to feel comfortable enough to go and play on his own but aware of what to do when someone approaches him.  I don't want to scare him and have him never wanting to leave our side. 

Once we're comfortable with him knowing what to do we'll teach him to yell if someone tries to force him to go with someone he doesn't know and try to teach him why, without scaring him. 

But it's hard, especially since some people don't react to children calling out for help.  Since I wrote this post I've been thinking a lot about what I could teach my children to have people react.  I've decided that I'm going to teach my children to say "call the police".  I figure no matter what the situation is if a child asks for the police someone will call for help, at least that's my hope. 

I wish we didn't have to worry about these things as parents, but we do. 

How did you teach your children about stranger danger?


  1. My kids are still really young at ages 4 and 1, but I do start early with safety teaching. I know that we have always used the idea of stranger danger, however, research shows the biggest danger is often from someone our kids know and trust. So I personally believe it's critical to teach them what behavior from other older children and adults is inappropriate and how to respond, as well as what to do if someone they don't know approaches them. It's good to make them aware but not afraid. Hope this helps :)

    1. It's true (and super sad) that we have to worry about those we trust. Thankfully those in our lives right now are all good people and have kids (which, again sadly, doesn't always mean anything). It is on my to-do list when he gets a bit older (probably in the next year) to teach him about how to deal with it and what is and isn't okay. It's so scary that we have to worry about these things.

  2. oh yes... this is SO hard! Our boys were just like Lynden.. super timid. so when they first wanted to leave our side we were celebrating! but scared.. and not wanting to scare them more. we have talked some about screaming "NO" and "HELP" as loud as you can and if someone is grabbing you, you can bite, scratch, hit, punch (they really liked that part). But it's true... how do people know it's not just a kid throwing a temper tantrum? Maybe we should say to yell "stranger!" or something.. I don't know. I try to keep it light and emphasize this probably won't happen, but just like having a fire escape plan, you practice it just in case. good luck!

    1. That's exactly it; teach them how to deal with the situation and hope to god it's something they never need to use. At this point we're taking baby steps

  3. Hi, I agree with S. Franklin. There is unfortunately, more danger from known people than from strangers. We pretty much taught our kids to do exactly what you told your kids. I also made my kids memorize our address and phone numbers (obviously, this can only be done when they are a bit older) in case they get lost.
    I've often thought about what you mentioned: that people don't really pay much attention to a yelling child. I have thought about teaching my kid to yell something specific, such as: this person is not my dad or something like that!!

    1. Thankfully Lynden's super quick to pick things up and he know's 90% of our address.

      I had a discussion with my grandma about what would you do in this situation: a child is screaming and crying and yelling "you're not my dad". You go over to make sure everything is okay and the man says "I'm her step dad and she's acting out because of {insert reason}". What do you do??? I think a lot of people would accept that and leave. Hence the teaching them to say to the person checking on the situation "call the police" hopefully they would call the police instead of accepting a reasonable explanation. It's so tough.