To ask you all to help me deal with stranger danger(22 Posts)
Ds is 4 and starting primary school in September. He is a very sensitive child and recently has become obsessed with strangers. Asking "Where do they live" "what do they look like " "can you say hello to them" " can you hold their hand". Im trying to answer as best I can but I dont want to scare him either. Is there any books that anyone could recomend that I could read to him. He is not allowed out on his own anyway as he is only 4, but he is asking me will I always be there to protect him etc and I dont want to scare him off going to school.
Thanks so much as this is my first DC and I just dont want to confuse him.
My DS started school this year too. He is overly friendly and wpuld go off with a stranger. I dont want to discourage that or scare him. So Ive told him that when he is with a grownup he knows or in school and a person he doesnt know talks to him, its ok to be friendly but if a stranger tries to hurt him he is to shout NO!!!! very loudly and run to find someone he knows. He is never unsupervised and tbh, pfb or not, I cant see him being unsupervised until he is about 6 and joins in sports etc. Then I hope he will be able to understand a bit better.
To clarify I dont want to discourage his friendly behaviour, not the fact he would go off with a stranger!
I found it better to focus the message on "not going anywhere that mummy and daddy (or teacher) don't know where you are" because we'd be worried, rather than because strangers might hurt him. So it's ok to talk to people you don't know, but not to go anywhere with them without checking with mummy/daddy/teacher first.
You can still say of course you will always be there to protect him, but that when he is at school his teacher will be looking after him for you, and there might be other people like a TA or dinner ladies or playground supervisors who will help look after him, and he can go talk to them if he bumps his knee or is woried about anything.
There is a really old book in my local clinic which deals with this in a really good way (IMO). The general gist of the story is that most people you dont know in the world are perfecty nice, but there are some that are not nice and so it is really important to check with a grown up you know (like mum) before you go somewhere with them. The big message is that if a stranger asks you to go with them you should always tell mum first so she knows where you are, and if the stranger doesn't think you need to tell mum then you should definitely not go with them.
It was published by the Home Office and actually uses the "hello little girl do you want to see some puppies" scenario but puts message across without being too scary.
Maybe something like that would help?
Sorry Muminscotland, that's pretty much wait you said wasn't it
Fuzzy's suggestion is a good one. My DD was the opposite - she heard the message so much that she was barely registering it.
'Do you know about strangers. DD?'
'Yeah....they stuff you in a car and then kill you. Heard it.'
So it is all about balance - not too much fear and not too much boredom...
andypandydulterdandy about three years ago my youngest gd was in a stranger danger film.It only last for a few minutes but if you would like a copy i could send it to you.It is called " the lost dog".if you would like it just pm your address.
Mummylin thank you so much, what would be amazing its just what I am looking for.
Thanks everyone, its so scary that we have to think about this, but we do.
Ill pm you now mummylin.
I broached this in the wrong way a few months ago with DD who had just turned 3. She ran away from me (I had DS then 10 months in a pushchair in crowded shop) and when I caught up with her (only 30/40 seconds but enough to feel sick) I angrily shouted "you DO NOT do that, strangers may take you away"
I felt awful but to be fair she was just curious and I havent mentioned it since but she hasn't ran off and once in the car park of the cashpoint she turned it on me and calmly said "mummy you cant leave ME, strangers might take me away".
She doesnt appear scared, maybe shes too young to be scared. I might buy one of these books to undo the damage
She also knows her full name and where she lives, in case of getting lost. I have told her that if she is ever lost she goes to a female (I know, I know ..) member of staff, ie) someone working behind the till in a shop and tells them.
The trouble comes with defining a stranger. People you are friendly to in some places are still strangers in the context of this message (people you see nearly every day on the bus, the shop assistant in the newsagent, the friendly owner who let's you stroke his dog in the park). You need to tell them that they mustn't leave anywhere with anyone other than the person they arrived with.
You need to spell it out, and keep repeating it. My children are a bit older now, and I'm majoring on never leaving anywhere or going through a door (premises or vehicle) with someone unless mummy, daddy or their teacher knows and has said it's OK. They've also role-played at a martial arts class about not engaging in conversation with someone who approaches them, and that it's OK to shout and run away.
We also talk through scenarios (driver shuts doors before mummy's off the bus - answer: wait at the stop, I'll coming running back. Do not leave with anyone), and I fought them to recite my mobile number from an early age. If lost, find a policeman (make sure they can tell a policeman from other uniforms), a uniformed staff member (if in eg a museum), the person behind the counter in a shop, or a mummy with children and have them ring me asap.
Neither of my DCs was/is sensitive about anything so I have always been extremely open, honest and withold none of the gruesome details.
DD particularly would chat loudly to anyone and would quite happily go off with them if they asked. It was quite a worry so I had to scare the bejezus out of her.
I think other people found it strange that I talked so openly to her about the Soham murders. She was 3 and asked about the "2 pretty big girls with the red football shirts on" (remember the photos?). I explained that he was not a stranger to them but that he was a very, very wicked person and he tricked them.
A friend of mine was horrified that I told DD about how they fought him together and then he hid their bodies. I really, really believed that a bit of fear was good for her.
It really depends on your child and how much information they can take.
I do believe in being very straight and "out there" with DCs, however gruesome it all is.
Oopsadaisy, better to terrify them rather than have anything awful happen.
pamelat - thank you for understanding my (mad?) methods!
I think quite a few people thought I was a terrible mother for sharing all that stuff with her.
DS was 5 was 9/11 happened. I didn't hide any of that either.
When the awful TV pictures were shown of the people trapped at the top of the towers and choosing to jump, I seriously thought DS shouldn't see that, but he wanted to talk about it. He asked questions about what it was like to burn to death versus jumping from a building.
I held nothing back and DS wasn't morbidly fascinated or scared - he just wanted to understand.
My Mum was horrified that we'd watched it together and had such a detailed talk about different types of death.
I have friends who still tell their teenage DCs that their dead hamsters are little angels that float by on clouds and smiling down on them.
I just don't believe in doing that.
On the other hand, my ds got so upset when he learned that someone we knew had been murdered that he tried to throw himself from an upstairs window; he just didn't feel he could cope with a world that had turned so scary. So it is very much about the individual child.
cory - so sorry to hear that. I hope your DS has learned to cope with his grief.
You are absolutely right - it is about the individual child.
He's fine now, Oopsa, this was years ago when he was about 6, he's 11 now. But it did have a bad effect on him for quite a while and I wish he could have been spared that.
I think the worst thing for him was that the murder had been perpetrated by the girl's boyfriend- so that meant to him that you couldn't trust anyone any more, if the person who was supposed to love and cherish you could do that.
cory - I think you have raised an important point here.
Although the OP is concerned specifically about "stranger danger" it is also an important life skill to be aware that dangers also lie closer to home. Same with the Soham murders - they knew him from the school (of all places) - a place where contact with others should be safe and without threat of anything inappropriate or harmful.
The James Bulger situation is the one that most children react to and respond to because that was children as both perpertrator and victim.
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