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Talking to strangers- where to draw the line?

(20 Posts)
littlelamb Sun 12-Oct-08 22:05:02

My dd is 4 and full of beans, which is lovely but I realised today that she has no sense of 'stranger danger'. She will quite happily talk to anyone. We went to the cathedral green so she could look for conkers, and while I was getting ds out of his pram so I could put him on a blanket on the floor she had found a nearby young couple with a girl of about 9 with them and managed to persuade them to help her look. She was never out of my sight, but I didn't know these people. They were very good about it and really made a show of helping her for 5 or ten minutes. When they left she walked over to a woman who was a few feet behind us, who was playing with her 8 month old, and started telling her all about her baby brother, and playing with the baby. Again, the mother was very friendly, but I wonder to what extent people thing 'fgs leave me alone, where is your mother??' grin hmm I don't think my dd would actually go off with anyone and she never goes where I can't see her, but how do I instill a sense of vigilance in her without making her scared iyswim? She is a bit of a motor mouth (her favourite thing to do atm is compliment anyone she sees out and about 'ooo I like your handbag, what a pretty dress' etc) and I know she is just being friendly, but where do you draw the line? The more I think about this the more I realise I don't have an answer and I just want to keep her safe

Tommy Sun 12-Oct-08 22:08:58

I haven't even mentioned stranger danger to my DSs (6 and 5). They are quite shy but will talk to anyone who happens to live next door (we have 2 multiple occupancy residences so our neighbours change quite frequently). If I hear them chatting to someone in the garden I just make sure I go out and loiter a bit, say hello to whoever they are talking to and just hang about.

I think most people don't mind friendly children at all - especially those with children as well. Just keep an eye on it all. smile

Tommy Sun 12-Oct-08 22:08:59

I haven't even mentioned stranger danger to my DSs (6 and 5). They are quite shy but will talk to anyone who happens to live next door (we have 2 multiple occupancy residences so our neighbours change quite frequently). If I hear them chatting to someone in the garden I just make sure I go out and loiter a bit, say hello to whoever they are talking to and just hang about.

I think most people don't mind friendly children at all - especially those with children as well. Just keep an eye on it all. smile

Tommy Sun 12-Oct-08 22:09:41

oops - sorry about that blush

witcheseve Sun 12-Oct-08 22:11:48

Nothing wrong with innocent curiosity in other people at this age. As long as you are aware of what is going on. Just keep and eye on things and if you feel she is making a nusiance then go and distract. Same as if you don't trust the attention.

The saddest thing I've ever seen was on holiday, parents propping up the bar, little girl craving for attention in the pool and other adults making jokes about her being a pain. There is a happy medium.

seeker Sun 12-Oct-08 22:13:54

I don't do stranger danger. I think it's bonkers, frankly. But I d think we need to make sure our children aren't making themselves a pain in the neck to other people. You can usually tell - the fixed smiles and the "Shall we try and find your mummy" said through gritted teeth is a bit of a give-away!

MadamDeathstare Sun 12-Oct-08 22:26:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

littlelamb Sun 12-Oct-08 22:32:54

MadamDeathSTare- she is wonderful grin But my worry is that in trying to keep her as innocent as I can I am actually doing her a disservice, as she has no idea that people aren't all freindly and lovely iyswim. I am so thankful that she is a bit too young to be affected by the Madeline McCann story as I know several mums who had to deal with really quite frightened children when that was all going on- we have no TV reception at home so she is quite shielded from things like that tbh, although something like that wul dhave been a good opportuinty to maybe talk about how to keep ourselves safe. It is lovely that she is outgoing, and it certainly helps me to get up and say hi to the other mums whose children she is talking to. I just don't want her to make a nuissance of herself or get into any kind of trouble. Its tough. I've been aware of it for a while but watching her today has made me realise how completely trusting of people she is.

MadamDeathstare Sun 12-Oct-08 22:42:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MadamDeathstare Sun 12-Oct-08 22:44:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seeker Sun 12-Oct-08 22:51:19

I really think the "don't talk to Strangers" thing is completely bonkers. Statistically children are far more likely to come to harm in the hands of their relations - how about a "don't talk to Uncles" campaign.

Teach them that 1. It's OK to say no to grown ups. 2. They don't have to kiss/touch anyone they don't want to(and this includes grandma - nobody said this was easy!) 3. Nobody can ask them to keep a secret - there isn't a secret they can't tell mummy) 4) people are nice and fun and interesting and the more you talk to the better. Just make sure mummy can see you.

lisad123 Sun 12-Oct-08 22:55:51

I agree with seeker, sad but true that more likely to be harmed by someone they know rather than astarnger with a puppy and bag of sweeties shock

talk about feelings, keeping secrets, not kising and cuddling if they dont want to (mY dd1 often doesnt kiss GD if she doesnt wantto). HTH

trumpetgirl Sun 12-Oct-08 23:08:46

I was very shy as a child and actively encourage my dd (5) to talk to people. I think that ignoring people is very rude, and that she has the right attitude when she goes up to some random lady and says "I really like your hair"!
I hate this stranger danger stuff, and don't want to bring my child up to be suspicious of everyone. I think that you have to give everyone the benefit of the doubt initially.

edam Sun 12-Oct-08 23:10:38

I like seeker's list.

I struggled with the 'strangers' thing because I know ds is (sadly) far more at risk from someone he knows AND I don't want to scare him out of his natural friendliness.

Anyhow, this thread has made me realise something. Ds, like his daddy, will always rescue anyone in trouble - ds is only five but has already racked up four 'intervening in a crisis' moments.

I don't think he'd go off with a stranger who offered him sweets or a kitten (although who knows) but he would definitely go to help someone in trouble. Must have a little chat about only doing something like that if Mummy knows about it.

littlelamb Sun 12-Oct-08 23:15:38

It's nice to see that I'm not alone in thinking that 'stranger danger' is a bit wierd. I understand the idea behind it but I agree that its not good to make dd suspicious and wary of people. I think Seekers list is going to be a great place to start. Thanks for all your input

cory Mon 13-Oct-08 09:12:55

I agree with Seeker.

Tbh there is no way you could rely on a 4yo keeping herself safe anyway. That is your job. At this age, they are not usually unsupervised, are they? I think you can introduce these concepts very gradually.

My 8yo who takes himself to school naturally needs to know about them. But even he doesn't need to spend his time mulling over all the grisly details. He needs to know that there are some adults who are so strange that they want to hurt children, that they look exactly like other people and then he needs to remember a set of rules.

But 8 is not longer an age of total innocence. He is studying World War II at school, he knows that people hurt each other. That is a big difference from puzzling and upsetting a 4yo.

NotQuiteCockney Mon 13-Oct-08 09:15:41

I'm with seeker - I do exactly what she does. I'm particularly keen on the 'if you don't want to kiss/cuddle/hug someone, you don't have to' rule.

A stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet.

(Once your kids go off without you, then I guess you need to deal with this a bit, but 4 is way too young.)

AbbeyA Mon 13-Oct-08 09:25:37

While you are with her all the time it isn't a problem and she gives people a lot of happiness by being so friendly. Most people are nice. My grandfather loved small children, there was nothing sinister in it, he loved their company and conversation. I would agree with seekers list. I think it is horrible to frighten small DCs with 'you might get taken'.
When they get older and do things without you is the time to put in basic rules. My mother managed to do it without frighteneing us, e.g. never get into a strangers car, never go off to see puppies etc with a stranger, don't accept sweets.

Acinonyx Mon 13-Oct-08 09:53:24

Agree - the stranger danger thing is media-hype gone bananas. It's not being a stranger that makes some adults (and children...) dangerous.

Bubbaluv Mon 13-Oct-08 10:13:33

I also think Strager Danger Traiig can give parents a false sense of security. I remember watching a proram (was it Oprah?? can't remember) where parets where ranting about how well they had trained thier children, and then they put them to the test. They got an actor to appraoch them in the playground, say that he had lost his puppy and asked the children to help him look. Every single child went with him.

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