My girls are going to be 4 in July and their need for independence is rapidly growing. It is getting harder and harder for me to take them out in public by myself (or even with my husband for that matter). They are refusing to hold my hand “I do it by myself” and when I go to put them in a shopping cart I get “really moooommmm” with an eye-roll included (where do they learn this stuff at such a young age??). It is nearly impossible to keep them contained so I can keep track of them!
Well, the final straw broke the camel’s back this past weekend where for 60 seconds I thought one of my daughters was gone. 60 seconds doesn’t sound like a long time but it was like everything moved in slow motion. She was there and then she was just gone. My husband and I took the girls out to a little carnival, they had snow cones, face paintings, balloons, playgrounds, a band, etc. We were all sitting at a picnic table eating snow cones, I got up to throw my snow cone paper away and when I returned to the table Lil’ Bit was not there. I asked my husband where she was…he said she went with you to the trash can…I told you she was following you. Unfortunately, with the band playing it was very loud and I never heard him say Lil’ Bit was following me. She was nowhere to be seen. We frantically searched and yelled for her (which was all in vain because the band was so loud) and nothing! I can’t even describe the feeling, it was such an overwhelming feeling of fear, dread and helplessness.
Fortunately, we had a happy ending. Lil’ Bit had got up from the table to follow me to the trashcan but had been distracted by the band. She loves to dance so she had gone up in front of the band to dance. When the song was over she realized she was by herself and walked up to a women who looked very similar to me (hair color, height, etc) and just started holding her hand. Thankfully, this women was a mom and realized what was going on and was able to spot us pretty easy (read: frantic parents and an identical twin sister in tow). Well, of course I made a scene….I have never been one to stay calm under pressure….lots of sobbing ensued! It makes me sick to think of how this story could have ended completely different.
I don’t know if it is because there have been several missing children in our area lately or because I just finished reading The Shack (highly recommend) but Stranger Danger has been on the mind lately. So, all of this lead to me spending the day looking for the best resources for teaching my 4 year old’s how to handle Stranger Danger. Here are my findings…..
*Just a side note – I am not endorsing any of these sites or opinions, just sharing the resources I came across….*
Teach Kids How – This website gives a breakdown, by age group, of tips to assist you in the process of talking to your children.
- Pediatrics – Have your kids take our Stranger Danger Quiz to see if your child knows who the strangers really are. Just because they look nice and normal – they are still strangers. Unfortunately, the boogie-man isn’t always an ugly scary monster that is easy to pick out.
- Child Care – More general safety tips such as: Parents should be cautious about blatant use of a child’s name on a back pack or jacket. Kids sometimes believe that a person can’t be a stranger if they know them by name, when the reality is that their name was easily readable on their attire or the individual heard a youngster’s name mentioned.
Momeo Magazine – Stranger Danger: Why You Need Teach Your Kids How to Fight Off an Abductor – Set up a code word set up with your child and remind them it’s not OK to go off with anyone, even their uncle or babysitter, if they don’t say the code word. If someone other than you is picking them up from school and this has not been prearranged, tell your child to refuse to leave the principal’s office until you have been called and it’s been approved.
Free For Kids – List of websites that may help parents, teachers, grandparents, etc. teach children about stranger danger and child protection. Coloring pages, quizzes and puzzles are provided, which are a ‘non-threatening’ way of instructing children about this often worrying threat to their personal safety. Songs and poems are also valuable tools as well as, helpful video clips and animations to reinforce the need for protecting children from strangers and to provide safety rules for kids.
Child Safety and Abuse Prevention Programs – Child safety coloring pages, activities, games, handouts and more.
Amazon Books – has tons of books on the topic of Stranger Danger
YouTube – Stranger Danger video for kids
The Masons’ Child ID Program – We did this about a year ago, the Masons had a booth at one of the summer festivals and it took less than 10 minutes for both of my kids. Very worthwhile (and FREE!). This video is from a specific chapter but it is my understanding that all chapters provide this service – contact your local chapter for more info.
While I don’t want to scare my girls and make them live in fear that all strangers are evil, I also want to make sure that I prepare them adequately for whatever life throws at them…….
Would love to hear your thoughts on finding that fine line between too much and not enough preparation…….
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Jodi Clardy, Certified Family Manager Coach & Professional Organizer
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