How to help your child differ good strangers from tricky people

How to help your child tell good strangers from tricky people

We were celebrating 4th of July at a park festival.

Usually, before kids run into the rides we reinforce the safety rules:

- "What do you do if you get lost? Whom do you ask for help? Where do we meet if we are separated in a crowd? What's my phone number?" 

Sometime between Merry-go-round and corn on the cob my son grabbed my hand and, yelling over the music, pointed to the food area:

- "Mom, look, a police officer is grilling a steak!"

- “Well cool”, I thought - until I realized something was odd...

By the way:

Your child needs to know much more than this to be safe during a public event.

We cover it all in a specialty course "Safety in a public place" 

This course is about what to do before leaving the house to make sure you can find each other quickly if being separated in a public place or any other trouble occurs.

This course is about what you can do before leaving the door to make sure if being separated in a public place, you can find each other quickly.

You don’t want your kids to be afraid of people

I've seen so many times, I need to say this: scaring kids (even unintentionally) is always bad for their safety.

Fear may look like a shortcut, especially when we don't have time or courage to discuss the topic.

But it usually bites you later.

A child intimidated by the concept of a ‘stranger danger’ may not be able to ask a stranger for help - and thus get into bigger trouble.

For example:

Instead of going to a cashier in a store, a lost child decides to run into the parking to look for your car.

Fear is easy to instill, not so easy to get rid of.

 

Why stranger danger is not working and how to teach your child safety instead - post cover

Here is the SOLUTION:

How can we paint a clear picture of who a stranger is?

 

Kids need to understand two fundamental concepts:

  1. Levels of trust - define how close the person is (close, kinda-known, stranger)
  2. Levels of goodness - define how good that person is (helpful, neutral, harmful)

Kids should not mix them.

What are the levels of trust?

There are 3 levels of trust:

  1. Trusted circle
  2. Acquaintances
  3. Strangers

Level of trust #1. Trusted circle:

This circle includes family members and REALLY close friends of the family (we talk about grown-up here - parents' friends, not kids' friends).

If you have a large extended family you need to indicate the members of the trusted circle.

You can do it by creating a family password. This is a secret word or phrase that only trusted people inside the circle can know.

Discuss who these people will be and share this password with them. Tell kids never to share it outside.

This password can serve as an emergency password. In case you need someone to help your child in an emergency.

For example, if your car broke and you can't pick them up and need to ask someone to help, kids will know that they can trust this person - because you gave him the password.

Change the password from time to time, as well as any time it was used for real.

This applies to families with healthy relationships assuming nobody can harm a child at home.

! If your intuition is telling you something is wrong with someone inside the family trusted circle, you are usually right.

Trust your intuition around any people who trigger your red flags with the signs of unhealthy behaviors. Regardless of how close they are do not include them in the trusted circle for your child.

Extra people in a trusted circle

Other people beyond the family trusted circle that kids can usually trust, include teachers that we (parents) know, and public servants.

How can kids identify the trustful public servants?

Pay your child's attention to how public servants look in your area:

  1. Badges
  2. Uniforms
  3. Equipment
  4. Arms
  5. Cars

 

So, who was that weird police officer grilling steaks on the 4th of July carnival in the park?

A man was leaning over the grill, waving to kids, and offering free samples.

How come?

We started moving closer walking through the crowd.

Then I could see:

My son confused the cook with the police officer!

Both had black uniforms with lots of badges on them, and both had lots of things attached to their belts.

And some police officers were on foot mixed with the crowd as well!

We came even closer to note all the nuanced differences. We spent a fair amount of time staring at the police officers that day.

 

So, when you discuss the uniforms, make sure your child knows how exactly they look in your area.

Tip: call your local police department - they often have tours and events for kids.

The uniforms of the road police and your constable may be different in color. The regular and holiday attire may be different, too.

 

Teach kids that uniforms may be faked. Guns can be faked, too.

A home-made vest with a sign "road-police" on the back may convince a child to comply with the "instructions" of a person wearing such a "uniform" to follow him because “this sidewalk is closed”.

 

The same applies to the employees of stores, libraries, entertainment centers, etc. The badge with the name does not mean this person works here.

A child needs to see this person working at the place of work.

A cashier, a front-desk person - anyone "attached" to the regular place of work is safer than others.

 

A child should never leave with this person and needs to stay at that place until he gets help.

He can attract additional people to stay with him as his "lifeguards" (like other moms with kids).

 

! Any person approaching a child with the request/offer to leave with him  (regardless of the signs of the public servant or an employee of this place) cannot be trusted unless that's a crowd emergency situation.

 

Level of trust #2. People we are acquainted with ("kinda known"):

Teachers at school that kids and we (parents) don't know well, other kids' moms, coaches, random family friends, etc.

 

#3 Levels of trust: Strangers – all other people are strangers and remain strangers until they are introduced to the child by his parents.

 

To solve the problem of ‘stranger danger’ without placing unwanted fears onto your kids you need to handle it as part of a regular ongoing discussion.

I will show you how to use everyday situations, movies, and books as natural prompts to start these conversations.

What are the levels of goodness?

Apart from the levels of trust, kids need to understand 3 levels of "goodness."

Kids need to know that regardless of the levels of trust, the levels of "goodness" are
different:

1. Good/helpful people - most people, in general, are good and wish you well.

2. Neutral people - some people don't care about you.

3. Dangerous/harmful people - a small number of people can be harmful.

How levels of trust and levels of goodness work together

! Keep the levels of trust (close, acquaintance, stranger) separate from the levels of goodness (helpful, neutral, harmful).

Avoid mixing them.

Here is the rule for kids:

! “The fact that you KNOW someone, does not mean he is good - and vice versa.”
You might see a harmful person in the inner circle, and an awesome super-helpful
stranger.

The inner circle of trust does not mean all "good" people. And strangers are not necessarily bad.

Most child-related troubles are caused not by strangers, but by the people within
the family circle or acquaintances.

Conversation prompt: How to talk about the definition of a stranger

“A stranger means the level of trust someone is granted.

Not the level of goodness.

Most strangers wish you well.

Strangers are not the scary cartoon characters wearing masks and hats.

Strangers are ordinary people of any gender, race, age, and appearance who do not belong to the inner circle of trust nor the circle of acquaintances.

! Even a child you have just met is still a stranger - until your parents have gotten acquainted with him.

All the safety RULES apply to communications with this child”.

 

Now your child can understand what your “Never leave with a stranger” rule means to him:

You are not supposed to run off with a new friend you've met 5 minutes ago, with
another mom on a playground, or a person walking a puppy.

! These people do not need to wear a mask, offer candy, or hide in the bushes to qualify
as being strangers.

But they are strangers.

 

Bottom line:

Empower your kids with the confidence to check with you first.

If they hesitate about whether to trust someone, tell them always think the worst.

Doubt is one of the gut feelings.

If you DON'T FEEL safe, you probably ARE NOT.

 

If you think this topic is important, please share this page with other parents - they will thank you!

Do you want your child to be safe with people?

Do you want to know the big picture of teaching safety?

Do you want your child to be safe when you are not around?

Do you want to teach kids to be safe in the situations you have never discussed? 

 

Enroll in a Free online course for parents of kids 3-10 years old

"Teach Your Child Safety With Strangers (and other people)"

↓↓↓↓↓↓

Teach Your Child Safety with Strangers

Do you want:

  • Your child to be safe with strangers and other people around him?
  • Learn safety skills in a positive, and practical way?
  • Be prepared and worry you less?

Join this free class and go from fear to confidence.

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 of what we have - protect them.

A conversation prompt on how to explain a definition of stranger to your child

Get to know your child's safety skills

Stranger danger safety level test be with kids

  Do you want to know how safe your child is?

 

  Do you want to improve his safety skills?

 

↓↓↓ Sign in and get the answers. ↓↓↓

What parents say:

 

"The questions of this test made me think of how many important topics my kids yet need to learn about safety.

Thank you for bringing it to my attention"

- Laura Richards, Mum of two

How to explain abduction without scaring your child

How to explain abduction without scaring your child

Let's talk abduction - so that our kids never face it

Teach safety rules early

My 4-year-old broke a safety rule that I did not teach him. Yet.

 

How can I explain abduction the way he could understand?

 

We were ready to go home after a family day in a park.

Kids were riding bikes. It was getting late.

Cars were leaving the parking lot.

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.

 

We ran 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 fields, in the pavilions – everywhere.

He wasn’t there.

The cars were leaving 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 I never see him again?”

How to explain abduction without scaring your child - kids safety rules

This is what happened

My phone rang again:

“He’s here. I found him!” – I could barely hear my husband’s voice.

I let out the breath I’d been holding, and the tears dropped on my cheeks.

 

Every parent had a scary moment like this.

When your child runs off in the unknown direction with a new friend, rides his bike way too far, hides in a store, or just walks away without paying attention and gets lost.

And it gets even worse when you have teenagers.

Why did it happen?

When we all calm down a bit, I asked

- “How did you get here?”

- “I saw a squirrel and ran after it. I thought you went to the parking lot,” he said.

 

Oh boy, he was going too fast.

He went in the wrong direction to the WRONG parking lot.

He's got lost.

Who knew it could have happened.

Keep in mind, we were not letting kids ride around the park unsupervised.

He managed to get lost between a couple of trees and a playground.

A couple. Of feet. From. Us. Under. Our. Watch.

 

- “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 this mistake - 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-year-old was way too young to be required to share his plans before leaving.

How wrong I was.

 

Mistake #1:

I didn't teach safety rules early enough.

 

Mistake #2:

I didn't know how to explain it in an age-appropriate way without scaring him.

How to explain abduction to young kids

Keep in mind, abduction worries you more than your kids.

Little kids can sense your fear and anxiety, so when you teach this topic, you need to be well prepared to explain it in an empowering way.

 

The message for the little kids can be formulated this way:

"This happens. People who do that make money this way. They take a child and ask for money. It's illegal. You need to know the rules on how to keep yourself safe".

 

That's more than enough foundation for the first explanation.

 

How to explain abduction in details without introducing fear

 

Keep in mind, that abduction by strangers is less common than those committed by people that kids knew or "kinda" knew (sometimes without their parents knowing).

In many cases, abducted kids were "groomed" by a predator beforehand and left their home voluntarily or under the pressure of shame, guilt, or fear and did not dare to tell their parents.

It does happen in families with good relationships too - predators are good in psychology and manipulation.

Your connection with your child is his best defense.

 

Related article: Why stranger danger is not working and what to do instead.

Practice: books, cartoons, and stories

Many classic fairy-tales were designed to teach safety.

Not all of them are still relevant or useful, but some are good.

This is an example of how I used a Gingerbread man story:

 

“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.

- “Yes.”

- “Anything wrong happened to him?”

- “Yes. He ran away from home and the fox ate him.”

- “Here is the lesson: if you’re going to leave, you tell me about it before you go, okay? So that if you need help, I’m around.”

- “Okay.”

 

How you can use it

The following stories can be used to explain the topic of abduction and the situations where kids were kept somewhere forcefully:

Little Red Riding Hood, Aladdin, Thumbelina, and Rapunzel.

You can use either books or cartoons.

 

For example, the Little Red Riding Hood broke 3 major safety rules:

 

  1. She changed the route to her grandma house without checking with her mom first
  2. She left with the stranger
  3. She disclosed her plans and the location of her grandma’s house to a stranger

+ She didn't listen to her intuition about the weird look of the grandma.

 

Scroll down to download the full guide on how to teach safety with the stories, books, and cartoons that I made for you.

 

It not as scary to talk about abduction, predators, and safety mistakes when it happens to a character in a book.

Your kids will understand and remember safety rules better through the story they can relate to.

Teach your child abduction safety rules

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"

↓↓↓↓↓↓

How to use cartoons for teaching kids safety - post cover - red riding hood and a wolf

Algorithm for 4 stories:

- Little Red Riding Hood

- Thumbelina

- Rapunzel

- Aladdin

Topics:

- Abduction

- 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

  1. Learn kids’ safety rules yourself
  2. Sign up for a free mini-course and learn how to use everyday situations to teach safety
  3. Sign up for the full course and let kids practice the skills and experience the drills in a positive, hands-on way.

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.

Do you want your child to be safe with people?

Do you want to know the big picture of teaching safety?

Do you want your child to be safe when you are not around?

Do you want to teach kids to be safe in the situations you have never discussed? 

 

Enroll in a Free online course for parents of kids 3-10 years old

"Teach Your Child Safety With Strangers (and other people)"

↓↓↓↓↓↓

Teach Your Child Safety with Strangers

Do you want:

  • Your child to be safe with strangers and other people around him?
  • Learn safety skills in a positive, and practical way?
  • Be prepared and worry you less?

Join this free class and go from fear to confidence.

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 of what we have - protect them.

↑↑↑↑↑↑↑

Take action

I just wanted to tell you that you are an amazing parent because you chose to tackle a really challenging subject!

Please sign up above - so I can guide you through the next steps.

↑↑↑↑↑↑↑

Are you ready to work deeper?

Recommended product

 

Full safety course for parents of kids 3-10 years old 

 

A modern perspective on teaching safety with people

 

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.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a message.

Why stranger danger is not working and how to teach your child safety instead

Why “stranger danger” is not working and how to teach your child safety instead

Why is the concept of ‘stranger danger’ (or “tricky people”) not working for teaching kids safety?

 

We were watching a cartoon that was supposed to teach safety to kids:

- “Who is this?” – my 4-year-old asked pointing at the person hiding behind a tree and holding candy.

- “Eh… a bad guy?” – I suggested.

- "A stranger?" - he asked.

 

Uh-oh, we need to clear the concept of a stranger, I thought. That's how this conversation started.

 

“Don’t talk to strangers” is an old-school rule sending confusing messages to your child.

Keep in mind that most products for teaching kids safety are outdated.

Modern kids need a modern approach to safety.

Why stranger danger is not working and how to teach your child safety instead post cover - a girl smiling

Why most kids do not understand the concept of “stranger danger”

 

Your kids are confused when you tell them:

  1. "DO NOT talk to a stranger"
  2. "DO NOT leave with a stranger"

Because kids do not understand who the stranger is!

 

Is a stranger a man or a woman? Is he or she old, young, good looking, or ugly?

 

Is a stranger a man or a woman?

Is he or she old or young?

Good-looking or ugly?

Nice or mean?

 

How does your child see strangers:

- Is a waiter a stranger?

- What about the waiter we see regularly?

 

- Is a teacher a stranger?

- What about a volunteering parent escorting kids to the restrooms during a camp?

 

- Is a friend of a dad a stranger too?

- But, is it safe to open the door to a dad’s colleague who brought something while parents are at work? Is he a friend, or just (maybe) working at the same company?

 

Are you confused? Your child is confused!

 

What are the safety consequences?

! Unprepared child

may not recognize an unsafe stranger and

may not respond in a safe way.

Why do bad guys in the movies and cartoons offer candy to attract a child?

Because most kids’ safety resources are outdated.

In the past cities were small and strangers were odd.

A stranger in a village was a big deal.

But modern kids interact with strangers every day.

 

Kids are misled by the outdated scenarios

What is your child thinking?

- “Oh, a stranger is a mean, ugly person wearing a mafia-style hat and a mask. He is enticing a child with a candy from behind a tree. No good”.

 

What does the child learn?

- “Watch out for the black-hats men offering candy!”

 

What is the conclusion your child makes?

- “But wait, I’ve got candy from all sorts of people on Halloween and nothing bad happened. Mom is overreacting. I don’t think it’s dangerous”.

 

As a result:

  1. Your child is not considering strangers could be dangerous.
  2. He painted a wrong portrait of a stranger in his mind (white, middle-aged male in a certain environment and scenario)

The biggest safety problem with 3-8 year-olds

! Young kids understand the rules literally.

When you say:

- “Don’t take candy from strangers” 

 

Your child depending on the age and safety level may act as:

- “It’s okay to go in with a neighbor to get some cookies”.

 

Because you didn’t specifically mention the neighbors and the cookies.

What does your child need to know to be safe with strangers (and other people around)?

Kids need to know the big picture of how safety works.

They need to be able to keep themselves safe when you are not around.

They need to know how to handle safety situations you have never discussed. 

Enroll in a Free online course for parents of kids 3-10 years old

"Teach Your Child Safety With People"

↓↓↓↓↓↓

Free mini-course: Teach your child safety with strangers in a positive, hands-on way - post cover - a girl in white shorts and t-shirt and red scarf

Act, do not react.

↑↑↑↑↑↑↑

Take action

I just wanted to tell you that you are an amazing parent because you chose to tackle a really challenging subject!

Please sign up above - so I can guide you through the next steps.

↑↑↑↑↑↑↑

Are you ready to work deeper?

Recommended product

 

Full safety course for parents of kids 3-10 years old 

 

A modern perspective on teaching safety with people

 

Do you want to know how safe is YOUR child?

You can test it!

What parents say:

 

"The questions of this test made me think of how many important topics my kids yet need to learn about safety.

Thank you for bringing it to my attention"

- Laura Richards, Mum of two

Stranger danger safety level test be with kids

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.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a message.

8 unsafe situations that should alert you and your child

8 unsafe help requests from strangers that should alert you and your child

A stranger is asking a child for help

This is the second part of the series "Help requests from strangers". Read the first part here: "A stranger is asking a child for help".

 

When your child turns 3 years old teach them:

  • The difference between safe and unsafe help requests
  • How to behave to be kind and stay safe
  • What to do if they find themselves in a situation you haven’t discussed yet (for example, if a good-looking old lady is asking for something and you didn’t talk about it)
8 safety situations about help requests from strangers every child needs to know - post cover - an old lady in glasses and red hat

 

How your child is responding to a help request

  1. Shall I go ahead and help?
  2. Shall I walk away?
  3. Am I rude and unsympathetic?

It's hard.

Most of the time we encourage our kids to cooperate, answer questions, be nice, polite, and cute.

That's why today we will talk about a very important and commonly neglected skill: Rejection.

 

Right to reject

By the school age your child needs to learn:

  • How to reject firmly and politely
  • How to say "No" to a grown-up
  • How to express his disagreement, dislike, or unwillingness to participate in something

This is the cornerstone of his ability to stand up for:

  • his boundaries,
  • his physical and emotional space, and
  • his interests and opinions

Three weak spots predators are looking for

These are the most common buttons pushed by predators to manipulate a child:

 

  1. Significance: feeling important and involved.
  2. Curiosity: luring surprises, adventures, or unknown things.
  3. Being a helper: when your child sees a kitten, a puppy, or someone helpless, old, little, sick, or otherwise in need of help.

These triggers throw children into an unusual and disruptive situation.

What happens to unprepared kids

  1. Most strangers who ask your child for help do it with good intentions (hoping they will help to build good character, for example) or without thinking much at all.
  2. The line between good people and those with bad intent is very subtle for the child.
  3. Harmful people are well-prepared and aware of a child’s psychology. They know and use tricks.

 

! Unprepared kids cannot figure out when a help request might have bad intentions.

8 scenarios your child must know by kindergarten

Make sure you've discussed all these scenarios and what to do - because they should raise a huge red flag in your child's mind:

  1. A request that is forcing a child into something uncomfortable
  2. A request that must be kept secret
  3. A request to open the door (for inspection, treatment, using a restroom, in need of calling 911, package delivery, baby crying on the porch, injured animal, etc.)
  4. A request over the phone when parents are not around
  5. A request requiring a child to enter a house, a building, or move into a different location
  6. A request involving money or other incentives
  7. A request from someone following a child on foot, or in a car, or inviting a child into a car
  8. A fake request for help on behalf of a parent

(If you feel this topic is important, pin this list for other parents, please):

8 unsafe help requests that should alert your child checklist + action plans how kids should respond safely

What kids should do in each situation?

Download the instructions

↓↓↓↓↓↓↓

  • How to recognize unsafe requests
  • How to behave
  • How to help safely or reject properly

In a positive, non-scary way.

8 unsafe help requests that should alert you and your child - post cover - phone with candies

P.S. If your child learns how to help and reject to help properly when he is little, not only he will be much safer when communicating with strangers, but he will also have higher self-esteem and lower risk of being involved in trouble during the teenage and adult years.

 

Don’t wait until it is too late.

↑↑↑↑↑↑↑

Take action

I just wanted to tell you that you are an amazing parent because you chose to tackle a really challenging subject!

Please sign up above - so I can guide you through the next steps.

↑↑↑↑↑↑↑

Are you ready to work deeper?

Recommended product

 

Full safety course for parents of kids 3-10 years old 

 

A modern perspective on teaching safety with people

 

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.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a message.

How to teach about tricky people and help requests

A stranger is asking a child for help

How to teach your child about tricky people and help requests from strangers in a positive way - post cover - a girl with a backpack

My mom will never forget the moment when I (7 years old) let someone into the house when I was home alone.

 

I knew these rules:

  • I should not have opened the door to anyone,
  • I should not have talked to anyone through the door,
  • And the dog had to answer the doorbell.

… I broke all the rules.

 

Why?

The truth is: most parents don’t teach kids safety until something happens, or they don’t teach it in the right way.

 

Make sure YOUR kids know and understand the rules about how to be safe with strangers.

Now read on to see what happened to me.

Before you judge

I was not ignorant about safety. Neither my parents were.

 

Now as a mom, I can totally relate since I'm dealing with the same questions my parents did:

  • How can we raise a compassionate child without sacrificing her safety?
  • How can we teach her the difference between legitimate requests for help and those with malicious intent?
  • How can my child help safely or reject gracefully without feeling bad or guilty?

When I became a mom

I felt anxious that maybe I was not teaching safety enough.

  • What if my child falls into's a help request manipulation?
  • What if my teaching falls short and he doesn’t recognize he is in danger?
  • What if I’m not teaching enough and something happens and he’s not prepared?

 

So many crimes could have been prevented if we as parents gave more attention to teaching kids preventive safety.

(You can test your child's safety level here).

 

The real reason I broke the safety rules:

Back to the story.

I had a piano. A huge, glossy instrument has been delivered the day before and was sitting in my room unwrapped.

Such a bummer – I couldn’t play. The sound was discordant – it needed tuning.

Mom said someone from the music company should come in the evening to fix it. What? I had to wait for another day?

I was in my room doing my homework.

The doorbell rang, the dog was barking.

“This is not my mom – mom has a key,” I thought.

I did not respond.

One more persistent doorbell buzzed, and one more.

I was curious:

“Who is so annoying? These are not salespeople.

Someone probably needs something”.

What your kids are not telling you when they break safety rules

What kids don't tell you when they break safety rules - a girl smiling

I tiptoed to the door and peeked into the peephole.

Apparently, my dog and I made enough noise for the man to know someone was home.

The glass was blurry, but I saw a young man in a leather jacket standing in front of the door. I couldn’t hear well through the door. He said:

-“Hey, I came to tune your piano. I was driving by and realized I was close to your house, so I decided to try to come earlier”.

I didn’t say anything.

He kept talking:

- “I live on the other side of the city 30 miles away. Your order is the last one for today. I would need to wait for a couple of hours till 7 pm. Can I do it now instead, please?”

- “Mom said not to open the door to strangers,” I thought hesitantly, but didn’t say a word.

He pointed to the black leather tool case in his hands:

- “Here are my tools.”

“Why should I trust you?” I still thought, hanging around the door.

 

Then he said something that changed my mind:

- “I need some help. Can I please come in and tune your piano now, because, otherwise, I will need to wait for 5 hours somewhere until the evening?”

 

This final drop disrupted my safety scenario:

“Okay, he knows I have a piano, he has tools and it feels like he needs HELP,” I concluded.

 

In my mind, his reasoning totally made sense.

I let him in ...

 

The surprising thing was how much fun it was to watch him work. He took all his screwdrivers, wrenches, and millet out.

- “Would you like to come over and see what’s inside of your piano?” he asked.

I came closer and touched the strings. The smell of machine oil and wood was tickling my nose. And the sound! Now the sound was bold and clean. It felt awesome.

What I never expected

In the evening I was so proud to tell my parents  about my achievements:

  • I've got my piano tuned
  • I learned a new song
  • I helped someone

I felt I acted like a “big girl” capable of making her own decisions... before I told the story to my mom.

Her face went pale as a ghost, and she looked really worried.

“Are you okay, darling? He did not do anything bad, did he?” she asked.

- “Oh, no. It was fun – he showed me what’s inside the piano”, I replied.

 

We had a long conversation that evening.

That was the first time:

  1. I learned there were bad people who could trick kids.
  2. Adults are not supposed to ask kids for help and should call the parents.
  3. Weird strangers can look nice.

Related article: 8 unsafe situations that should alert you and your child

 

Why kids break safety rules

 

Looking back, I cannot believe I had zero hesitance to strangers.

Neither could my parents imagine such a scenario.

Let me repeat this: My parents could never imagine such a scenario.

 

I knew the rule not to open the door.

But I did not understand the consequences of breaking it.

 

! This is one of the fundamental mistakes - teaching isolated rules without incorporating them into a system.

 

How many times do we teach our kids some rules without explaining why they work that way?

And without reasoning of what happens if you break them?

 

Do not make this mistake.

 

! Instead, teach your child safety as a system versus teaching how to respond to isolated situations.

 

It does not come with age - many grown-ups fall into the same troubles as kids do.

For example, one of the classic manipulations to trick a grown-up woman to open the door is playing a recording of a baby crying on her front porch.

You can not imagine how many scenarios of scams and manipulations exist.

And you can not teach them all to your child.

You can read about the 8 most popular tricks used against kids here.

The full list of classic manipulative scenarios is long and predators always make something new.

(On a side note, IRS has a list of the most recent financial scam scenarios - check it out - you may be surprised how creative it goes).

 

Your child needs to understand safety as a system so that he can handle situations you have never discussed.

Safety is a skill that needs to be built. It doesn't build itself.

Tricky people - how to teach your child about help requests from strangers - post cover

Enroll in a Free online course for parents of kids 3-10 years old

"Teach Your Child Safety With People"

↓↓↓↓↓↓

Free mini-course: Teach your child safety with strangers in a positive, hands-on way - post cover - a girl in white shorts and t-shirt and red scarf

Act, do not react.

↑↑↑↑↑↑↑

Take action

I just wanted to tell you that you are an amazing parent because you chose to tackle a really challenging subject!

Please sign up above - so I can guide you through the next steps.

↑↑↑↑↑↑↑

Are you ready to work deeper?

Recommended product

 

Full safety course for parents of kids 3-10 years old 

 

A modern perspective on teaching safety with people

 

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.

Please enter your name.
Please enter a message.