How to explain abduction without scaring your child
Teach safety rules early
My preschooler broke a safety rule that I did not teach him.
How can I explain abduction way he could understand?
We were in a park. Kids were riding bikes. It was getting dark. Cars were leaving.
My phone rang:
- “Is he with you?” my husband asked.
- “Yes, he is.”
- “I mean are BOTH KIDS with you?”
- “What do you mean by BOTH? Dill is here, Tek was with you!” I tried to keep calm. Dill looked up at my shivering hands.
- “I. Don't. See. Tek. He was riding his bike.” My husband was out of breath from running.
Dill and I ran back to the parking lot, yelling and checking everything.
We looked in the bathrooms, on the playground, on the tennis courts, on the trail, on the field, in the pavilions – everywhere.
He wasn’t there.
The cars left the parking lot one by one.
- “Should I call the police now or should we make one more round running?” - one scary thought ran after another.
- What if he’s in trouble? What if he’s suffering? He’s just a little boy. What if I never see him again?”
This is what happened
The phone rang again:
- “He’s here. I found him!” – I could barely hear my husband’s voice over our son crying in the background.
I let out the breath I’d been holding, and the tears dropped on my cheeks.
Every parent has a scary moment to remember forever.
When your child runs off in an unknown direction with her new friend, ride his bike way too far, hides in a store, or just walks away without paying attention and gets lost.
(By teenagerhood safety worries get much bigger).
We were not idiots letting kids run around the park at night while we checked our social media feeds.
Why did it happen?
When we all stopped crying and hugging between the leaving cars, I asked
- “How did you get here?”
- “I was riding my bike. I saw a squirrel. I thought you went to the parking lot,” he said.
Oh boy, he was riding too fast.
He went to the WRONG parking lot.
He started looking for the right one and got lost.
- “Why didn’t you tell us where you were going?”
I asked and kicked myself.
It was totally my fault - I hadn’t taught him this rule yet.
Do not repeat my mistakes - your child may get into bigger trouble before you even think of it.
Two big safety mistake parents make with young kids
I thought that at 4 years old my son was way too young to be required to share his plans before leaving.
How wrong I was.
I didn't know how to explain it in an age-appropriate way without scaring him.
How I explain abduction to young kids
Abduction bothers you more than your kids.
Abduction by strangers is less common than those committed by people that kids know or "kinda" know.
Related article: Why stranger danger is not working and what to do instead.
The idea of using books, cartoons, and stories came when we were reading a book of classic fairy-tales.
I saw a gingerbread man on a picture singing:
“I can run away from you, I can. Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!” -
- “Do you see the gingerbread man?” – I asked my son.
- “Is he behaving the way he is supposed to be?”
- “No. He ran away from the parents and the fox ate him.”
- “Let’s agree that if you’re going to leave, you tell me before you go, okay? So that if you need help, I’m around.”
How you can use it
Read Little Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, Thumbelina, and Rapunzel where kids were kept somewhere forcefully.
Read Little Red Riding Hood and discuss 3 major safety rules that she broke:
- She changed the route without checking with her mom
- She left with the stranger
- She disclosed her plans and the location of her grandma’s house
+ She didn't listen to her intuition about the weird look of the grandma.
Kids understand and remember safety rules applied to a story.
If your kids ask more questions - don't tell them all that bothers you.
Instead, simply explain that nothing good happens to missing kids.
Empathize how bad they felt separated from their families and how sad their parents were.
Apply it to your child
We did the work for you!
Sign up below to receive a swipe copy for the instructions, examples and conversation scripts:
Download your copy
"Explain abduction in a non-scary way using stories, books, and cartoons"
Algorithm for 4 stories:
- Little Red Riding Hood
- Following safety rules
- The consequences of breaking them
Learn how to use any story, cartoon or life situation for teaching safety.
Explain this super sensitive topic in a delicate, neutral way without feeling scared or scaring your child.
Well, instead of dreading teaching this subject,
I am now looking forward to starting it. - Liz T, mom
How to use everyday situations to teach kids safety
- Learn kids’ safety rules yourself
- Use everyday situations to teach them
- Let kids practice the skills and experience the lessons.
You don’t need to fake any situations.
You’ll learn to use your everyday life by just paying attention, including stories, games, books, movies, and cartoons you already know.
Click here – to see how.
Enroll in a Free online course for parents of kids 3-10 years old
"Teach Your Child Safety With Strangers (and other people)"
Do you want:
- Your child to be safe with strangers and other people around him?
- Learn safety skills in an easy, positive, and practical way?
- Be confident and you worry less about him?
Join this free class and go from fear to confidence.
Because when your child breaks a safety rule he didn’t know, it may be too late to teach the rule.
Don't wait until it's too late. Our kids are the most precious things we have - protect them.
You are an amazing parent because you are tackling a challenging subject!
Now it's time to train your child.
Please sign up above - so I can guide you through the next steps.
Can't find what you are looking for?
Please tell me what you are looking for and how I can help.
I'll be in touch.
Or try using the search function at the top of the page.