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What do you tell tinies about 'stranger danger'?

(71 Posts)
latrucha Wed 25-Jan-12 14:57:51

I watch DD like a hawk, but there is always a chance of her going astray, isn't there? Now, something just happened in the supermarket to freak me out involving someone I don't know but have noticed and been susicious of for a long time now. After today, I am extremely suspicious of him.

I realised I haven't ever really told her anything about saftey except to stay with mummy. If she did get lost she wouldn't have a clue what to do.

So what do you tell really young children about what to do if they get lost and / or someone approaches them?

DD has just turned 4. I feel I have been remiss so help me now!

mefifi Wed 25-Jan-12 15:04:02

DD asked me the other day what was a stranger, so we have been practising what a stranger is which I think helps. At first I asked if FriendFromPreschool's mum was a stranger and she said 'no' (DD doesn't know the mother), but has been getting the hang of it as when I asked her again she said 'yes she is a stranger because I don't know her.'

I also said to her if she loses me to tell them my name and what I look like (I am Chinese & DD is not, so she is planning to say 'my mum has a Chinese face'). I might have to revise this and say a grown up who works in the shop we are in, or a grown up with other children.

But not had the what if someone approaches her conversation. Looking to this thread for help too.

Mandyville Wed 25-Jan-12 15:16:28

DD is three and has recently been worried about getting lost. We've told her to tell a policeman or another mummy or daddy that she is lost and to give her name, our names and our address and that they will help her. In terms of speaking to strangers, DD is shy and so generally doesn't, but I've told her that it's fine to chat to people as long as mummy or daddy are there and she can see us. I have no idea how any of this would work in real life, of course... I suspect that she is as easy to tempt away/distract as any child and that safety really lies in the fact that most people are completely harmless.

latrucha Wed 25-Jan-12 15:21:36

DD will talk to anybody and is extremely outgoing.

That's a good idea about finding a description of me she can use. I have red hair.

I am still reeling that my suspicions of this boke seem to have some validity and I thought I was being a bitch being suspicious of him.

Cartoonjane Wed 25-Jan-12 15:23:24

I have told my DD that if anyone tries to make her go anywhere without mummy or daddy she must say no and if necessary she should scream and kick.

I havent taught her anything else about strangers. I dont want her to fear strangers and dont think theres any reason she should. A stranger is far more likely to help her than harm her and abductions by strangers are extremely rare.

Cartoonjane Wed 25-Jan-12 15:25:49

Sorry i posted before I'd finished: i think its all much trickier if you have suspicions of somebody in particular You could tell her not to speak to him unless you are there if you think she would listen to that. Otherwise you will have to keep by her side when he is around.

ReduceRecycleRegift Wed 25-Jan-12 15:27:02

Ds isn't yet 3 but we do talk about it by referring to Finding Nemo

these might be useful:
http://www.easy2name.com/product.htm?product=id-wristbands

you could tell them to show this to people but to stay standing where they are until mummy or daddy gets called

Rather than strangers being someone you don't know I think the best message is who is the responsible adult, they might see someone regularly but they shouldnt go with that person without asking their responsible adult (babysitter, nursery nurse, mum, dad, friend's mum..)

ReduceRecycleRegift Wed 25-Jan-12 15:34:09

maybe "who's in charge" is an easier concept than responsible adult

every time you leave them with someone else say "right I'm going now so _ is in charge, if you're not sure about anything tell __"

and teach them that if other people tell them to go somewhere they must check with who's in charge

remember it's not just adults, older kids too

I tell my daughter if she gets lost to find another mummy and ask for her help. Then we went through how she would know who was another mummy (surprising how daft they are - she pointed at a woman on the street and said she'd ask her because she had a big tummy which meant she was going to have a baby!). So we identified that it had to be a woman with little children or with a baby in a buggy and that helped her understand who precisely to ask for help.

I think we overestimate how much they understand - and how biddable they are. If an adult tells them to do something, typically, they do it. So we have role-played:

- an adult comes and asks you to help them look for their little girl, what would you do?

- an adult comes and says your mummy told me to come and get you, what would you do,

- an adult comes and says would you help me look for my puppy, what would you do.

So specific examples and role play not conceptual instructions.

latrucha Wed 25-Jan-12 15:37:13

cartoon jane and RRR- a combination of those things is pretty much what I said too on the spur of the moment but then wondered if it was the right thing, so thought I'd ask.

I really don't want to draw any attnetion to this person, partly because a long time ago I decided I didn't want to give him any excuse to talk to me or DCs and partly because then DD mightnotice him and talk to him. She is only 3 after all.

ReduceRecycleRegift Wed 25-Jan-12 15:37:21

in terms of scenarios, its okay to be polite and TELL adult things, like point to where something is, TELL them if you saw their stray dog, tell them the time.

Not okay to GO with adults to show them where something is, to GO to help them find a stray dog etc

good adults may ASK you questions and it's okay to be polite and answer, but if good adults need someone to help them GO somewhere they will ask another adult to help

Mandyville Wed 25-Jan-12 15:38:33

latrushca - what exactly are you worried about? Is it something you could/should talk to the police about?

latrucha Wed 25-Jan-12 15:39:04

That's useful. Thanks.

exoticfruits Wed 25-Jan-12 15:39:48

Teach them their name, address and telephone number as soon as possible-and your name -especially important if your surname is different.
At 3/4 yrs they are going to be with you and the most likely thing is getting lost in a shop, theme park etc so tell them to find a member of staff.Failing that look for a mother with children.
Later on play 'what if........' as explained by margoandjerry. I am always surprised how many parents don't bother.

Mandyville Wed 25-Jan-12 15:40:21

margoandjerry I remember hearing the role play suggestion before. Sounds an excellent one. DD is extremely verbal but her vocab far outstrips her clear understanding.

exoticfruits Wed 25-Jan-12 15:41:05

Do not make them fearful of all strangers-most are OK and they can talk to them if they are with you! Do not put the unknown dread of 'you might be taken' into them.

ReduceRecycleRegift Wed 25-Jan-12 15:46:32

no of course not, that's why its good to talk about what a good stranger would do, a good stranger might ASK children questions, but if they needed help finding their dog they'ld get an adult to GO with them etc, a good adult will want you to tell your responsible adult before you go anywhere with them..

Not read the whole thread, and I haven't yet talked to DS much about strangers, but we HAVE talked quite a bit about what he should do if he gets separated from me.

One thing I think is quite important to rub in is NOT to go running madly looking for you - I have told him at first to just stop where he is and SHOUT for me as loudly as he can, as then chances are we won't yet be too far apart and I may still be able to find him.

This was after we did lose each other once, and he went looking for me in a panic and somehow managed to get through some double doors into an obscure bit of the shop, and nearly went in a lift on his own shock God knows how long it would have taken to find him if I hadn't heard him crying before he went into it!

You have reminded me to do a "refresher session" with him though as we haven't talked about it for a while (and to start on the strangers too), so thanks!

NoMoreCakeOclock Wed 25-Jan-12 15:53:01

My DD is now 4 but from about 3 and a half has known our address off by heart, my first and last name, her dads first and last name, her hans first and let name so that if she got lost and someone asked her for info she could tell them.

She now knows our telephone number too, it is v easy though!

latrucha Wed 25-Jan-12 16:04:16

DD knows our address for about five miutes at a time grin

Great suggestions here. I'll definitely do some role playing with her

It's tricky because you don't want to frighten them, DD asked and I just said it was to keep her safe.

She also said she couldn't shout because it would hurt her throat, so I said to kick. She said kicking would be fun. hmm

latrucha Wed 25-Jan-12 16:06:03

Oh, and no this man has done nothing illegal. Yoy would probably say I was being daft, horrible or pfb if I detailed my suspicions. I stand by them though, as they are only mine.

ReduceRecycleRegift Wed 25-Jan-12 16:08:26

my mum has been proved right over time about a few people she was suspicious of sad

Luckily I was safe (and still fairly confident around adults) but other kids not so much.

So in terms of supermarket person YANBU just because you cannot put your finger on it just yet

latrucha Wed 25-Jan-12 16:16:44

ok. I will say then! I am dying to check out what people think in fact but may get flamed.

Since DD has been of an age to go the playground, I have noticed this man walking past palygrounds extremely frequently. We go to two different playgrounds at opposite ends of town at different times of the day. I would sat I see him at least 7 out of ten times I go. No children, just walking along the perimeter and looking. I decided while it was in all likelihood innocent, I would never give him an opportunity to get to know us or talk to us. We live in a small town and you generally do get talking to people you see regularly. He has give me the 'I know you, shall we say hello' look a few times. I don't.

Today, we were walking into the small in-town supermarket and he was walking out. No shopping. On our way round the supermarket I twice found him standing behind us, and when I turned round trying to start conversation. I didn't respond, and went on my way as if I hadn't noticed. He still had no basket. Then, when I was at the till he was behind me, still no noticeable shopping. DD was nosing a couple of feet off. He made some sort of converational noise again, I called DD to heel and by the time she'd got back to me (two seconds?) he was gone.

Am I wrong to be suspicious about this?

RitaMorgan Wed 25-Jan-12 16:28:54

I am unsure about "stranger danger" as a concept - I'm not sure kids will understand it in a way that keeps them safe? E.g the pre-school mum you don't know is a stranger, whereas (in a child's mind?) the man in the corner shop you see and say hello to every day isn't. Children are more likely to be abducted and abused by people they are familiar with than a stranger.

I think I would rather tell DS that he can say "no" to an adult if he doesn't want to go/do what they ask, to never go anywhere without telling the adult who is looking after him, and to find a mummy or a lady at the till in a shop if he is lost.

amijustamardycow Wed 25-Jan-12 16:37:51

when dd was very young 2 - 4 maybe, i told her that strangers are people she she does not know like her family ie mum dad aunts uncles teachers and not all grown ups are kind like these people, so never talk to strangers or go away with anyone as you never know if they are kind or unkind.

Now she is 5 I tell her never to go with anyone full stop wether she knows them or not unless I OK it, as some times people are very unkind and hurt children or touch them privatly in a way that is wrong and this is called abuse and even someone we know very well can hurt or abuse us just like someone we dont know, I am afarid to say and dont want to bring it up on such a thread but I do sadly talk to dd about madeline McCann as she seen a poster on a passenger ferry and asked me about it so i explained some possible sad out comes that where child friendly but fairly honest.

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