Teaching your child to say 'no' , 'stranger danger' etc
Cha · 04/03/2003 15:13
Big one this. I had the most terrible terrible dream the other night where someone took my little girl in a park. We hunted everywhere for her, all the people in the park running about and calling her name, trying to find her. But I knew that she had been taken by someone and no matter how hard I ran and called, I would never find her. I woke up screaming for her and then sobbed and sobbed in my sleepy partners arms. It is quite the worse, worse way I think to lose a child.
Anyway, what I wanted to ask, is what in your experience is the best way to teach kids to say no when others approach them in a way that makes them uncomfortable? And not just strangers. Most abuse is done by someone known to the child. How do we teach them to be able to tell someone what is going on, to believe that they will be believed and made safe, without losing their innocence and making them unduly fearful of the outside world?
I feel also that this stretches into adolescence, not just childhood. I know myself, and from friends, how as young girls and women, we often found ourselves in situations where we should have said 'no' but didn't feel (or know) we could.
I want my daughter and my unborn child to be as safe as they can possibly be, but I want them to grow up free and independent and fearless. How can it be done?
Cityfreak · 04/03/2003 15:39
I think it is just a continuation of what you do anyway, eg explain why you want them to hold your hand or not run away out of sight when you are walking. You can make them aware of road safety and the possibility of a car accident without making them too afraid to cross the road. I just say that some people are not nice, although most people are nice, and that when someone is a stranger it means we don't know whether they are nice or not and have to be careful. I also believe that we can teach assertiveness through our own example, in terms of how we deal with rude or abusive people when we are out in public places, or how we handle disagreements with family and friends. Afterwards, I discuss with ds if someone upset me, and why I did or said what I did. If ds has been naughty at nursery, I always ask him to describe himself what happened, and ask him if the report from the teacher is true. This is not because I don't trust his teachers, but because I want to show that I value his version of events, so that he knows that even when he thinks he has done something wrong, I still love him and want to hear about it. I don't think you can keep them safe and also preserve all their innocence. However, you can, eg, talk to them about what things are private, rather than tell them the facts of life. We also had a discussion about someone not nice trying to take you away, and I said that I would kick and scream and say no if it was happening to me. We also do role plays with soft toys, eg pretend you are lost and find a police officer or women with children to help you, practising what to say.
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