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Stranger danger. What do you tell your 3 yr old?

(20 Posts)
moominsmummy Sun 17-Aug-08 09:59:29

I am struggling to get across to my 3 yr old DS how important it is that he stays with me, or where I can see him when we are out (and that he cannot go into public toilets on his own). My friend tells her kids that there are nasty people out there who will take them away and they'll never see their mummy again. I do not want to tell him this and make him suspicious of every adult he meets as I know the incidence of predatory paedophiles is low (most risk from within the family etc etc)

I have explained that DS might hurt himself and mummy won't be able to see but obviously he thinks he's invicinble! wink

how do you get the message across to kids of this age?

hercules1 Sun 17-Aug-08 10:05:17


lilymolly Sun 17-Aug-08 10:12:06

nothing just accompany him/her

imo they are far to young to understand

beansprout Sun 17-Aug-08 10:15:19

You can't. It's still our job to keep an eye on them at all times at this age.

CoteDAzur Sun 17-Aug-08 10:18:07

No need yet as 3 yo DD runs away and/or screams whenever a stranger even looks at her.

zuzkah Sun 17-Aug-08 10:58:38

I would explain that not all people are good and sometimes they want to scare little children without mummies or something like that. Milder version of your friends story. I think they should be aware from a young age. They will still think they are invincible though. Just remember how many times I was told about the dangers in the world by my mum when I was a teenager. Do you think I listened? So there is nothing like being too young to be told.

VictorianSqualor Sun 17-Aug-08 11:04:40

I've told mine that there are horrible people around that could hurt them, I don't see why not. It's true. Rare but true.
My mum always told me that there were and it didn't make me suspicious, just careful.

scanner Sun 17-Aug-08 11:06:58

I think 3 is a little young tbh. We tell our dc's that if they can't find us to look for someone who looks like a Mummy and tell them.

solidgoldbrass Sun 17-Aug-08 11:08:21

I just tell DS he's to wait for me or stay in sight, with no discussion or explanation: he's 3 so understands instructions better than reasons at the moment. WHen he gets bigger I will probably tell him that he shouldn't wander off with people he doesn't know because getting lost is a nuisance and worries mummy. Because the chances of being taken away by an evil-minded stranger are so small - I'll be concentrating more on making sure he understands that his body's his own property and that adults are not always right nor to they have to be obeyed if they are asking him to do things that make him uncomfortable.

savoycabbage Sun 17-Aug-08 11:09:13

I have told my 4 year old that if she gets lost then to ask another Mammy to find me as Mammys can find each other. I have also told her my real name (rather than Mammy) as I once found a little girl in the supermarket who told me her Mother was called Margarine so they were saying that over the tannoy and it was something like Louise.

moominsmummy Sun 17-Aug-08 14:29:42

I do see the point about watching them all the time but with a disabled husband, newborn baby and an adventurous 3 yr old - there are times he is tempted to run off (far side of the park, round the corner or whatever) and I cannot chase after him. He know his full name, my full name and our address and can tell people what pre-school he goes to - I have also told him to approach other mums or someone in uniform if he is lost. It's just a case of trying to give him a perception of danger I guess - VictorianS' approach sounds reasonable.

solidgold - you make a good point about them having rights about their own bodies - it is for this reason that we don't make DS kiss or hug grandma/auntie or anyone else if he doesn't want to.

MrsMattie Sun 17-Aug-08 14:32:36

I just tell my 3 yr old that I get worried when I can't see him as I don't want him to get lost. He responds to this pretty well most of the time. I think 3 is a bit young to start with the 'nasty people' stories.

ThingOne Sun 17-Aug-08 14:53:17

I don't tell my children about stranger danger at all. I tell them they need to stay close to me in public places and not to go out of sight. There are many dangers they face and stranger danger is way down the list. At the moment understanding roads and cars are of far more importance to me. Then getting lost.

I don't like the idea that you shouldn't trust anybody. While I will tell them not to go anywhere with people hey don't know I will certainly not tell them that there are lots of dangerous people out there because there aren't.

Elkat Sun 17-Aug-08 19:28:59

My daughter was about 3.5 and aware when Maddie went missing last year. She asked questions and we said that she went off with a stranger and no-one has seen her since. We have explained it that some adults are nice, but some adults are not (just like some dogs are nice, and some dogs are not, and I guess the same is true of children too). But the thing is you don't know which adults are nice and which adults are nasty. She doesn't know any graphic details, but she does not exactly what she should say if someone asks her to go away with them etc. She also knows her phone number if she gets lost and the town she lives in). By equipping her with the knowledge of what is and is not safe, we can give her a bit more freedom, which I think is important for a child.

Elkat Sun 17-Aug-08 19:30:00

sorry, she does know exactly... (not not!)

bythepowerofgreyskull Sun 17-Aug-08 19:32:11

I don't.
I say that he needs to stay where I can see him.
he has never asked why. even if he runs off he thinks I am annoyed because I saked him to stay by rather than stranger danger.

SheSellsSeashellsByTheSeashore Sun 17-Aug-08 19:34:55

my dd1 was also aware about madeleine. we told her the truth about how it happned as she is quite smart and would have found out anyway by overhearing conersations.

i tell dd1 that not everyone is nice and that some people are bad and would want to take her away. she is also aware that if she gets lost she is to go into a shop and tell the people behind the counter that she has lost her mummy. and if anyone tries to take her she is to scream as loud as she can and kick.

like elkat i dont go into details but i need for her to be aware as she has habit of dashing off the moment your head is turned and its very hard paying for your shopping and bagging it all up while constantly watching your hyperactive four year old and trying to stop your 14 month old escaping from her buggy.

Bluebutterfly Sun 17-Aug-08 19:35:57

101 dalmations. The nasty people who take the puppies. A good starting point for the whole "never talk to strangers" thing.

Although personally, I just tell dh at the park that he must stay where I can see him and if I have to run after him because he is going somewhere I that I won't see him, we will leave. If he asks why, I say because you could get lost.

I will start talking to him about strangers soon though.

princessglitter Sun 17-Aug-08 19:41:42

Read 'Protecting the gift' on this subject. A three year old is too young to protect themselves. An older child who is frightened of strangers has no means of protecting themselves if they are lost. It is better to teach your child to be confident in public and to recognise the strategies a predator would use (all covered in the above book).

Three years olds cannot understand this and so need constant supervision.

Bluestocking Sun 17-Aug-08 20:01:52

Nothing. When DS was three, it was my job to make sure I could see him at all times. Now he is four, he has a little more ability to keep me in sight himself. We have had conversations about "people who help us" - which is a topic they covered at nursery - and he knows he can talk to police and other people in uniforms, as well as shop assistants, and we have talked about what he would do if he found himself on his own because he had lost sight of me. He knows his full name, as well as mine and his father's, and our address. I see no need to fill his head with the statistically infinitesimal possibility that he might run into a "bad person". I am far more concerned about traffic and have been fairly graphic about what happens to children who run into the road, as there is far more likelihood of this happening.

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