It seems that children get mixed messages about whether or not to talk to strangers. On the one hand, at school they are socialized to talk politely to any adult they see, as a matter of courtesy. Then every once in a while, during one of those safety conscious campaigns, they are told not to talk to strangers, but they are very confused at this point as to what a "stranger" actually is. Some think it means somebody that looks strange or weird. It never occurs to them that a stranger is just somebody they don't know, because they are expected to talk to people they don't know. It would be rude not to.
We don't have children. But other peoples' children talk to me and my husband all the time. We are "kid magnets."
Whether we are grocery shopping or out hiking little ones - like 2 and 3 years old - are always trying to play with us! It's kind of fun. They just walk over, want to play and blow kisses when they leave.
The parents - who are keeping a close eye on them - don't seem to mind at all.
I think it is hard to explain to children the difference between interacting with safe people and not. We always make sure that we can see the parents and that they don't mind us interacting with their children.
I tell my kids, if you are not with me, do not talk at all to someone you dont know. If you are with me, Ill let you know if its ok to talk to them. Sometimes we run into peopel I know, from the past, that are strangers to the kids...I tell them its better to be rude and safe.
They never ever ever walk up to strangers and start conversations. If a stranger talks to them, how do you respond? Is what I am talking about here...
I don't care if it's rude or not, usually when someone walks up and starts talking to my boys I turn them away and then start walking away. This is a habit I want my children in. On the occassions that I run into someone I know that my boys don't know and I am going to talk to the person I introduce my boys formally so they know that this person is ok to talk to. It may sound really rude to some, but the safety of my talkative little ones comes first.
Do you live in a big city, a small town or a rural area? Do you think that might be a factor in your policy about strangers?
Wow, aren't they going to be sociable, charming teenagers and adults?
Well, if we bring them up like this, obviously not. That's what you see all around - people fearing people, and making all kinds of stupid mistakes because of this.
my son has always been a magnet--people would come up to him from babyhood, going 'ooh you cute little thing' etc.
most of the time people would respect parental boundaries and speak to me first, and not touch him or anything. but sometimes you would get a person completely oblivious to polite boundaries and they would just go up to my child in the stroller and try to touch his cheek, which i didn't like and i even told one guy hey please don't touch my child.
over the years, he met all kinds of people and learned how to respond to them, and let them know himself what he was comfortable with. i think he could only have learned that by interacting with them.
people a child knows well can be just as bad as a stranger. i think you have to create scenarios for them like 'what do you do if a man (or woman) comes up to you outside school and asks you to help him find his puppy?'...teach children that good adults never ask children to do anything like that. good adults repsect children's boundaries, whether a stranger or not.
My niece is very outgoing and tends to talk to people waiting in lines at the store, etc. I am the same way too, even though I am more introverted than her. Nothing bad ever happened to me, and I think my niece will be okay too. However, we are with her at all times, so I do not find her talking to people in line to be bad. She loves to share things, and the rest of the people in our family just do not want to talk to us at length. Heck, everyone got bored with me going on about how hilarious I thought Gadhafi and his tent was, and my niece would actually listen to me talk about that!
I didn't stress "don't talk to strangers". I'd tell them, "When you're out playing don't talk to anyone you don't know, even if they seem nice." (There's a subtle difference, but I did leave room for people like school bus drivers, substitute teachers, etc.) I learned, though, that even the most "well taught" and seemingly sensible kids will think they can decide for themselves who is "nice" and who isn't. My kids and their cousins were outside, and a couple of real estate people came and gave them brochures to bring in. I questioned them about talking to strangers when they're out and around, and they said, "but they were nice". When it comes down to it, I've accepted a couple of rides from strangers, myself, as an adult with a broken down car; aware that I was taking a chance but thinking I could trust my own judgment about how "ok" they were. Women have been killed for trusting their own judgment (which isn't always correct).
With kids under a certain age, I think you have to just make sure they aren't in situations where you or their friend's parent isn't keeping an eye out. When they get a little older they should travel with friends and stay where there's always houses/businesses nearby (at least older kids "remember" the safety rules better than younger ones, most of the time). With a little planning and extra effort it's really possible to let kids have a sense of freedom while also keeping them as safe as possible. Having learned the hard way (and, believe me, my kids were ones to usually remember rules and act sensibly), I think all will be fine if they talk a lot about stranger danger have a false sense of security. Well.... news programs have tested kids who have been "told", and most of the kids "forgot" or "used their own judgment" too.
Yes, but he won't discuss his personal buisness with me.
I talk to other peoples kids all the time! I have never had even one bad experience with a parent. I am a male with 6 grandchildren, and they chat to whoever they like.
My sixteen year old is friendly but not stupid. As she has had plenty of interaction with people (including strangers,) she has knowledge of people. A bit hard to get if you don't socialize when young. Just my thoughts on it.
The trouble is when they've done those hidden-camera shows to see how children, who have been told about the puppy line and things like that, react; most of the children just go and help the pretend evil-guy find his puppy.
I think the problems of kids being victimized by people they know (especially family members and friends) and those being victimized by stranger is really two different types of problems. Most of the time relatives who molest don't kidnap and murder (or else keep the kids for a long time). The second type of criminal is rarer, but usually the worst kind. The uncles, step-fathers, clergy and coaches (etc.) who victimize often do so over a long period of time, but don't usually murder or steal the child. I think parents have to figure out a way to keep kids safe and help them know how to keep themselves safe from both (as much as possible). (My kids have always been sociable, so it's possible to raise sociable kids who generally like people while still paying attention to possible threats "out there".)
Actually, on average a child is in more danger from someone they know than they are from a stranger. I agree with Cosette that the more important thing is to teach a child what to do about situations rather than to fear groups of people. After all, as was pointed out earlier, the new bus driver on their first day is a stranger, the majority of the police in our town are strangers, so are the firefighters, paramedics and EMT's.
'Tis a fine line!!!! When does safety stop and paranoia begin? It's important to tell them to be careful - but not to make them scared and suspicious of everything. We tried to keep the balance when our daughter was young. Today at 17, we never say 'Don't' - it's the best way to make them go do it
I just wrote a hub about what happened when my daughter spoke to a stranger at Walmart. He approached her when she was less than 10 feet away from me. When I intervened, he moved on to another child.
Within a few minutes, the store manager was involved and moments later, the police.
You can tell your kids over and over not to talk to strangers, but it's tough to get an 8-year-old to practice that idea.
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