“Don’t talk to strangers.”
“Say hello to the nice man!”
This is a huge point of confusion for our kids. You go to the park with your kids and remind them in the care not to talk to strangers. Then you get there and another parent is there playing with his kids on the playground. He notices your kid’s Avengers shirt and says, “Hey buddy! Who’s your favorite Avenger?” You hear him ask tell your kid, “Don’t be rude… answer the man, tell him who your favorite Avenger is!” Congratulations, you’ve just confused your child beyond understanding. That happens all the time!!
Or what about this one… you go to a store and remind your kids not to talk to strangers. One of the employees comes up to you and asks what their favorite color is. They remember what you said and walk straight to you. You see that as being impolite and tell them, “Don’t walk away from him, answer the man”.
We could go on and on about different situations, which is a large part of the problem. There are too many variations of the situation to expect your child to comprehend when to and when not to talk to strangers. So let’s simplify this:
- If you’re RIGHT NEXT to mom or dad, it’s okay to talk to strangers and be polite.
- If a stranger says something to you, come straight to mom or dad.
- NEVER GO ANYWHERE WITH A STRANGER.
- If you get lost, find an employee (as you go into the store or amusement park, point out what the employees are wearing).
Simple. Easy to remember, especially if you repeat these four rules each time you go out with your kids. And let your kids know, it’s not always going to be a scary looking man wearing an overcoat and pointy shoes with candy. It may be a woman, or a nice looking man with a dog or something else they may want to see. Check out this video. It’s a great reminder that no matter how often we tell our kids, when the time comes, everything is different. In practice, it’s easy to hit the ball. In a game, everything is different.