Teaching Your Kids About Strangers

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Putting my daughter out in the real world terrifies me. It makes my entire body seize up and gives me a horrible feeling in my gut. She is so sweet and innocent and knows nothing of the bad things in the real world. She knows “good guys” and “bad guys” in movies, but they aren’t real. And she knows that, (I hope anyway), because the “bad guys” are always her favorite.

In a few short months, she’ll be starting kindergarten. I will no longer be by her side every second of the day, and that kills me. What if someone is mean to her? If memory serves, kids can be brutal. What if she gets hurt and I get a call to take her to the hospital? And lastly, what if she comes in contact with a bad stranger?

That last one is the scariest of all. For a few months now I’ve been trying to figure out how to talk about strangers with her.

Coincidentally, the other day she found a book in our garage all about strangers. It’s called The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers, (affiliate link). Considering how helpful a few books were for me back when my girl was having trouble adjusting to preschool, I can’t believe I didn’t even think to look for books to help me with this situation.

Anyhow, “Learn About Strangers” has become a nightly staple,  and with it, we have been having the same conversation afterwards. Every night, she has the same questions. “Mom, what can you tell me about strangers?”

Teaching your kids about strangers can be difficult and scary. This is how I tackled the job.

This is what I tell her-

  • A stranger is a person we don’t know.
  • Most strangers are good people, but not all of them are. Since not all of them are good, we have to be cautious of all strangers.
  • Never talk to a stranger.
  • Never take a gift, including candy, from a stranger.
  • And never ever go anywhere with a stranger.

After we talk about strangers, her next question is, “What do I do if I get lost?”

  • If we’re at the grocery store, go to the “apples” and stay there so I can find you. (We came up with the apples together because she knows where it is. If for some reason she can’t find it, she knows to stop and stay in one place.)
  • Ask an employee for help, or a mommy with kids. She has been practicing saying, “My mommy is Tarynn Playle, please look her up on Facebook and call her.” (You can call people through FB messenger.)
  • If someone tries to lead her somewhere, she knows to tell them “no thank you, I need to wait for my mommy right here.”
  • If someone picks her up against her will, I told her to kick and scream as much as she wants, basically cause a scene and do whatever it takes to get out of their arms. I also told her to scream either, “stranger, stranger”, or “help, help!”

This part of the conversation always ends with her saying, “I think I’ll just always hold your hand.” Sounds like a great solution to me, Sweet Girl.[Tweet “Talking to your kids about strangers isn’t fun, but it is absolutely necessary.”]

If you decide to get the “Learn About Strangers” book, I would suggest reading through it first before reading to your kiddo. They explain strangers in two different ways, and the first way can be scary for little ones.

What would you add to the conversation? I know this is just the tip of the ice burg and I’m missing some things. And since she is all about learning everything she needs to know about the topic, I want to take advantage of it while I have her full attention, so please feel free to share any insights!

June 3, 2016
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12 Comments

  • Reply Alana

    Love this so much! I’ll admit, it was a bit hard to read. Thinking about bad steamers honestly makes my stomach churn beyond belief. I love the book suggestion and how you have this conversation. I’m going to follow your lead and do the same. Also getting Berenstein Bears is a great idea! I haven’t read one of their books to my kids yet. One thing I read in a post recently about strangers too is explaining that bad strangers will ask kids for help. And, that good strangers only to ask adults to find something that is lost, for directions, etc. Again, great post ❤️

    June 3, 2016 at 7:48 am
    • Reply Tarynn Playle

      It churns my stomach too. It has gotten easier talking to her about it because she is becoming more confident. I forgot about that! Adults don’t ask kids for help! Thank you, I will add it to our conversation tonight!!

      June 3, 2016 at 8:32 am
  • Reply Kimberly F

    My son is so social, it’s been difficult to get the “don’t talk to strangers” point across. He talks to random people in stores and people walking down the street. A book is definitely a good idea to help him understand the potential danger of strangers.

    June 3, 2016 at 9:28 am
  • Reply Lauren

    It is so scary talking to kids about this.. now that my son is older sometimes he will say.. I wont run into a kidnapper will I? And I know he wants me to tell him it will never happen but this is one lie I refuse to tell him. I saw bad people are very real and you always have to be alert and aware.. you shared some great tips

    June 3, 2016 at 10:05 am
  • Reply Kristen

    Good advice! But many times officers will tell you NOT to go to an employee, to find another mom with kids and THEY will help you. Great post, love the apples idea!

    June 3, 2016 at 11:06 am
  • Reply Samantha

    Very good advice just started having these conversations with my daughter. Read another site about not just teaching about strangers but about tricky people. Because most of the time it is family/friend that you have to be watch out for. Most victims have known their abductor.

    June 3, 2016 at 12:46 pm
    • Reply Tarynn Playle

      You are absolutely right. I’m going to have to add that to our nightly talk. Thank you!

      June 3, 2016 at 2:42 pm
  • Reply Tiffany

    So important to have these conversations. And I love that you found a book to go along with it! That makes it so much more relatable. It’s always good to be prepared.

    June 3, 2016 at 5:28 pm
  • Reply CourtneyLynne

    Ughhhhh this is something that scares me too… My daughter is so trusting and loving, it breaks me to have to tell her that not all people are nice :-/

    June 6, 2016 at 8:26 am
  • Reply Ellen Oliveira

    I’m terrified of having this talk with my little guy when the time comes. He is always with me. ALWAYS! So as of right now he’s fine but oh boy. Why do bad people have to exist?

    June 8, 2016 at 5:15 pm
  • Reply shelah

    You created some really useful strategies for making sure your child can be safe and get help if she ever needs to. Brava!

    September 13, 2016 at 10:48 am
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