Friday, October 26, 2018

Teaching Children About Strangers

Over the course of the past few months, I've been talking to Scarlett about strangers.  I tell her we don't open the door for anyone we don't know, and we always check who is at the door.  I've mentioned that there are people in this world who do bad things and safety is always my #1 priority with her.

Of course I've spoken with Scarlett about not talking to strangers in public either.  One thing that I do struggle with with that topic is what strangers are okay to talk to and which ones are not.  I feel that it's confusing for Scarlett in some aspects and here's why.  If I tell her don't talk to any strangers and then a grocery store cashier says hi to her and I encourage her to say hi back to be polite.  I feel uncomfortable not encouraging her to say hello back even though I've previously said don't talk to strangers.  I'll have to see if I can work on this to make things easier with her.  Maybe I'll say the cashiers at certain stores are okay to say hi to, but nobody else is.

I don't know anyone's intention and I always err on the side of caution.  If someone comes up to us in a public place and wants to talk to Scarlett, I will keep on walking.  I always fear the worst and I don't like a man or a woman coming up randomly and talking to her.  It just makes me nervous.  I've heard too many stories about human trafficking lately where someone comes to talk to the parent and distracts them and someone else grabs the child when they turn around.  It's so scary.

One thing that I have trouble with is Scarlett walking away when we're in public places.  She doesn't want to ride in a cart in Walmart or Target and wants to walk beside me.  She doesn't always stay right beside me and I always tell her I can't see you if wander off or aren't near me.  Scarlett may want to go see the toys in the next aisle and for a brief second she's in that next aisle before me.  I always feel slightly panicked and I can't tell her enough about how she needs to say where I can see her.  We're still working on that on a daily basis and it's stressful.  

I'd say more people in this world are good than bad, but you really can't trust anyone you don't know. It's imperative that you teach your children about strangers and staying where you can see them from an early age.  There are many child-centered videos about strangers online as well as books about the subject.  The Berenstain Bears books series has a wonderful book called Stranger Danger that is a great teaching tool for parents everywhere.  We can't predict the future in terms of what will happen with children, but safety is paramount to me as a parent.  

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