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when do they understand "stranger danger"?

483 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  MayBaby2007
a little background: dd will be 2 at the end of this month. never, not once has she has separation anxiety or been reserved around people she didn't know. she will wak up to whoever, or when being introduced to someone (men in particular) she will ask them to hold her by reaching out for them. now, it doesn't bother me when i'm around, as i see (and can put a stop to if needed) what she's doing. in fact, i appreciate how social she is. she's not shy or hesitant when it comes to interacting with others. however, even when i'm not there (dd in daycare for a couple hours or something), her caregivers comment on how easy going she is and how she'll "just go with anyone". that scares me...

i guess i'd like for dd to be more, i dunno, cautious when approaching or being approached by people she doesn't know. she is so trusting it seems, and i don't want to break her of it completely, but i also am worried that it may facilitate her being in an unsafe situation in the event i'm not around (i'm thinking like school age or something). i don't want her to think everyone is bad or could hurt her, but i don't want her to trust everyone automatically. what do i do? when do i do it? how do you teach a child who is so very social to be more aware and slightly cautious around people without making her fearful?

i also know that when bad things happen to kids, much of the time it is people they know. i feel like i can talk to her about that at a certain age, but i also don't want her going around thinking that people she knows and loves could hurt her, kwim?

i've been thinking of this for some time now... i just feel like it's something i need to teach her b/c of who she is. advice? insight? tia
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My DS is 2 too, and this was something I had been thinking about a lot lately. I heard others suggest the book "Protecting the Gift" here around MDC, and finally got around to checking it out of the library. I definitely recommend it!! It has a lot of advice on this very topic.
It shouldn't matter how anxious a 2-year-old is around strangers--a parent can never rely on a 2 year old to monitor their own stranger interactions. Rejoice in your child's sunny personality and put yourself on alert; children that age, and for several years after, need adult supervision at every moment; they can never be their own guardians.
I was at a safety talk from a local police officer a while back, he was saying they don't encourage teaching of "stranger danger" as they've found kids to not respond well for this and generally don't think of anyone they've seen before as a stranger, so whilst we might view, say, the mailman, as a stranger, kids generally don't. Unfortunately the alternative recommendation doesn't have such a snappy phrase to go with it, but it boiled down to always getting parents permission and to not accept explainations along the lines of "your mum told me to do this".
My DD is 4 1/2 and still throws the front door open wide for any old person who knocks. She loves everyone and thinks it's the greatest thing in the world to meet and chat with new, strange guys.

I actually love the friendliness and outgoing personality, as I am an introvert. I read "Protecting the Gift" and like the methods discussed in it. Reading the book reassured me about a lot of things that are and are not within my control.

For now I'm just trying to watch DD closely and embrace who she is. She'll understand personal safety soon enough, and I think I might be sad on the day when that fear sets in.
Quote:

Originally Posted by annekh23 View Post
I was at a safety talk from a local police officer a while back, he was saying they don't encourage teaching of "stranger danger" as they've found kids to not respond well for this and generally don't think of anyone they've seen before as a stranger, so whilst we might view, say, the mailman, as a stranger, kids generally don't. Unfortunately the alternative recommendation doesn't have such a snappy phrase to go with it, but it boiled down to always getting parents permission and to not accept explainations along the lines of "your mum told me to do this".
Very good point. My mom and I always had a code word. I can remember being as young as kindergarten and my mom explaining, "You never ever EVER go with ANYONE unless they have our secret code word. If they tell you I'm in the hospital for xyz, don't believe them unless they have our code word....."

Even as a very small child, my mom's words always stuck with me. (She was always afraid my dad would kidnap me....but it could be anyone). I will use the code word system or code phrase with my daughter when it becomes age appropriate.

OP, I sometimes worry about my 2 yo too. She's much more reserved than your dc, but I don't like how she befriends every person she sees. She'll scream "Hi!" from across the parking lot at anyone she sees. She actually drew bad attention to us a couple months ago--we were all alone, parked far away from a store and she draws attention to this person who scared the crap out of me. I thought I was dead, litterally. Just an all around bad sitation/bad vibe thing going on. And of all times, trying to get us out of a dangerous situation, dd decides to throw a fit and fight getting put in car seat. Cute.

I don't know when they grow out of it. But I hope it's sometime soon.
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