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Protecting the Gift - ch.5 "Talk to Strangers"

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Welcome everyone! We're on ch. 5 of our discussion of the book, Protecting the Gift by Gavin DeBecker. If you're just coming in, you're welcome to join us, as well as comment on the threads about the previous chapters.

In this chapter, DeBecker talks about some common safety rules that people teach children and why they don't make sense.

Here are the "rules" to break:

Never Talk to Strangers

If You Are Ever Lost, Go To a Policeman

If You are in Trouble, Go to the Nearest Police Station

No Place is Safe

Don't Wander off in Public

I've heard all but the fourth one. The first "rule" never made sense to me, for some of the reasons that DeBecker states (kids see you talking to strangers all the time, it's basically unavoidable). The one about finding a policeman made sense to me after reading the chapter. Since the first time I read PTG, dh and I have told the kids to find a woman, preferably with children, if they get lost. The last one I do tell my kids, but I don't expect that them knowing it means that I don't have to watch them in public.

Here are the other threads:

Ch 1 & 2 http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1020434

Ch 3 http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1024016

Ch 4 http://www.mothering.com/discussions....php?t=1028100
post #2 of 20
Thread Starter 
Has anyone actually heard people telling their kids not to talk to strangers? I have and I always have to bite my tongue.
post #3 of 20
I will read this tonight and comeback with my thoughts.

Thanks for keeping the discussion going.
post #4 of 20
Ds1 has somehow picked up the 'never talk to strangers'. I have no idea where it came from, though, because I'm sure we've never told them that.

Since reading it, we have told them to find a woman if they get separated from us, a woman with kids if they can find one.
post #5 of 20
I learned so much from this chapter. Great suggestions to get rid of useless outdated phrases for kids. I am definitely enrolling Ivan is Kid Power when he is 4 and plan on going to all the classes as he and Matilda grow.

Loved the idea to look for a woman when scared, lost or in trouble. Brilliant.
post #6 of 20
Love the way this chapter is structured, tearing down myths. Makes his points very clear and memorable.

I've been reading bits aloud to my kids (almost 5 and 10, not the 2 yr old). I think it is sinking in for them.
post #7 of 20
I'd love to join these discussions, and will have to see if the other chapters are still active....

anyhow, I thought chapter 5 was very helpful. I read many parts of it out loud to DH and had some good conversations with DD, and a bit w/DS. I really wanted to stress the 'find another mommy/woman' if you are lost or need help. Also, while I don't recall ever telling my children not to talk to strangers, it was still an eye-opening section of the book, and I realized how much of his advice we already have instilled in the kids. They are not shy, nor do they feel people they don't know, but they do seem to trust their intinct if a person is sketchy. I'm trying to think of some examples, but it's usually comments later on after we've left a public place... and I really think there observations are worth something -not dismissing.

The end of the chapter, "Don't wander off" honestly had me in tears with the vacation scenario, because when we went to Disneyworld this past summer, we did lose our 5 yo son at a waterpark and it was the longest 10 minutes? (seemed like hrs) of my life. Luckily, he remembered us walking by the "LOST KIDS" station near the entrance and telling the children this is where you go if you get lost, (Never did I imagine we'd 'lose' a kid, though) and after frantically searching the wave pool, the areas surrounding it, DH thought to go to the missing kids place -- and there DS was, calm as ever. Ugh, I'm trying not to cry right now.

Anyhow, this chapter was very helpful for me and gave me idea of role playing to do w/my kids.
post #8 of 20
This chapter was so wonderful. Now that DD is almost 3, this is exactly the type of knowledge I need.

Just after I read this, we were in line at the post office and a very nice lady was talking to Scarlett. Then Scarlett walked over to this stand with pictures of horses on it, about 3 feet from me. The lady said to her "make sure you can still see mommy." And I said "I can see her, that is the most important thing."
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
The lady said to her "make sure you can still see mommy." And I said "I can see her, that is the most important thing."
Like that lady, I do tell the kids to make sure they can see me. I don't like telling them to be where I can see them, because that doesn't make as much sense to them.

Quote:
I'd love to join these discussions, and will have to see if the other chapters are still active....
I'll bump them up.
post #10 of 20
I've never taught my kids to avoid strangers b/c of this book, but I still forgot so much. I've never forced them to talk to people they don't know for the sake of being polite, nor taught the "never talk to strangers" rule. Although I had forgotten that in some capacity it is necessary to "get practice" so to speak, so that they could learn to trust their gut or be able to do it if needed.

I am so careful about watching my kids in crowded places, but I think even I at times expect too much out of my 5yo. I know he doesn't stress fearing losing your child in public, but this chapter makes me fear it a little more actually. I do tell him to stay by me, or hold my hand, but I don't then remove my attention from him. It's good to be reminded though, that most little kids really shouldn't be held responsible for not getting lost.
post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hazelnut View Post

I am so careful about watching my kids in crowded places, but I think even I at times expect too much out of my 5yo. I know he doesn't stress fearing losing your child in public, but this chapter makes me fear it a little more actually. I do tell him to stay by me, or hold my hand, but I don't then remove my attention from him. It's good to be reminded though, that most little kids really shouldn't be held responsible for not getting lost.
oh, I agree. especially with the part I bolded.

not that I'm making excuses for losing our son in a (very crowded) public place, but we were on an extended family vacation that included 6 adults and 12 children. It made it a bit more challenging at times to keep track of who was keeping track of who.

if that makes sense

I find it much easier to keep track of my own four children, when it is just the 6 of us. DH and I can split the responsiblity up, so to speak.
post #12 of 20
I can't imagine keeping track of more children- I have three and I won't go to the larger children's museum by myself now that my third is running every which way. : I would be a wreck if one were lost, even for a minute. I thought the examples in the book sounded cavalier about it. I know the chance of them being more than lost is so small...but still.
post #13 of 20
My parents and I had a special whistle we use to find each other. It was reassuring when I couldn't see them and we used it to find each other in stores all the time. Now DH and my BFF know it.

Something for older kids, 6-7 up? I'll have to ask when my folks taught us that.
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maggirayne View Post
My parents and I had a special whistle we use to find each other. It was reassuring when I couldn't see them and we used it to find each other in stores all the time. Now DH and my BFF know it.

Something for older kids, 6-7 up? I'll have to ask when my folks taught us that.
My friend and her almost 6 year old have that, too! I wish I could whistle!!
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by phathui5 View Post
Has anyone actually heard people telling their kids not to talk to strangers? I have and I always have to bite my tongue.
Yes. Unfortunately, my DD's school taught that when she was in K. Luckily, I noticed her 1st grade teacher gave a reading assignment about meeting/making friends with strangers recently.

Ever since DD was verbal, I've taught her DeBecker's rules. I've especially drilled into her head that if she's ever in trouble, she needs to find a mommy to help her, or at least a woman.

I've had some trouble reconciling two separate ideas, however. DeBecker says kids should be comfortable talking to strangers. But he also says we shouldn't be afraid to be rude. I get that. But with my DD, at least, I can't always tell when she doesn't want to respond to a spoken "Hi" because she's creeped out, or because she's being pissy and rude. When she was about three, I made it a blanket rule that when someone says "Hi" to her, she must respond with a "hi." That's it. She doesn't have to make best friends, and she doesn't have to engage in conversation. That's mostly because of my personal pet peeve of rude kids I know. My cousin, for example, is a rude jerk to everyone. His kids are becoming rude jerks, too. I guarantee not every grownup they meet is a creepy pervert - they just were not taught to be polite.

It *is* interesting to see DD's reactions to people, though. I can really only think of one guy who creeps us both out. But there are grownups we come into contact with together who seem fine to me, but DD has pretty strong reactions against them. I'm miss Nicey-nice, don't want to rock the boat. But I invariably later realize that they're totally fake, and DD sensed that all along, while I ignored my feelings.
post #16 of 20
I thought most of the stuff was common sense. One I remember my mom teaching was to not take candy from strangers. which I don't like people giving my DD candy, they ask, but I dunno, it's like they don't know what else to offer, I guess, and are just being nice. I decline and say something like she's too little.

I don't have much else to say about the chapter.
post #17 of 20
This is such an important chapter. It makes perfect sense (do people really tell their kids to find the nearest police station? I don't even know where the nearest is!).
I grew up being ingratiatingly polite but have, as an adult, kicked that habit. I want to teach my son that it's ok to not be polite if you don't feel comfortable.
Still reading...
post #18 of 20
My daughter says hi to everyone, so if she doesn't want to, I don't force it. I'll just say something polite to the person, "Oh, she doesn't want to right now. Thank you though, have a lovely day!" and keep moving. She is very courteous most of the time, although lately she has been exhibiting some "shy" type behaviors that are really not consistent with her personality. (Is this a developmental thing? She is 26 months.)

I love love LOVE the idea that we should all be ok with being rude, but I find it very very difficult for me. I wonder about the line between teaching our kids courtesy, and teaching them *when* it is appropriate to tell someone to buzz off, you know?
post #19 of 20
I tell my dd to look for a woman with kids or at least a woman, because as DeBecker says, it might not be pc to say so but it's true that they are less likely to be dangerous. I do say not to wander off in stores but I still keep an eye on her because I know I can't count on her listening...that cute bear might catch her eye or whatever...
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
When she was about three, I made it a blanket rule that when someone says "Hi" to her, she must respond with a "hi."
Hm. I don't think I would be comfortable enforcing that rule. There have been people who have talked to me in the past who I've just had to walk by because something didn't feel right. I would want my kids to be able to do the same thing.
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