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Why I Won’t Stop My Children Talking To Strangers

It was on a crisp morning walk that I got thinking. As we were walking home from our walk we passed a lady and we both smiled and said “good morning”. Little asked me “why you say good morning for? What that ladies name?”. Everything I had been taught both in school and by my parents about strangers suddenly didn’t make sense. I don’t know the lady in the restaurant taking my order, or the person who I thanked for holding the door for me!

We live in a little village and this is where I want my children to grow up. Everyone around here is so friendly. I grew up in a town and if it wasn’t for parcels being delivered to our house I would not be able to tell you my next door neighbours names! Little knows the names of our neighbours and speaks to them almost on a daily basis. I know that in an emergency I could rely on my neighbours! But aren’t they technically strangers? We know their names but not much else.

We live in a world where everyone is afraid to help someone else for the fear they could be a bad person. I’m not totally oblivious to the fact there are some nasty people around but I don’t want my children growing up thinking everyone they cross is one of those people. Of course I will teach them about stranger danger. I will make them aware that there are some very mean people. I will teach them what to do if they ever feel uncomfortable/scared. They will know not to give out their personal information or go with someone they don’t know.

But I will not enforce that all strangers are scary. Who will they turn to if they ever need help?

I turned to my fellow bloggers to hear their views on ‘Do not talk to strangers’ and here is what they had to say:

“I don’t talk about stranger danger because I don’t think it makes sense – we expect them to talk to strangers every day -saying thank you to service people and so on. I’ve talked to my son about ‘safe’ people to look for if he happens to get separated from us. We’ve also talked about what to do if anyone is making you feel uncomfortable.” – Beth @ Bamm Boo

“My son is only three and I encourage him to be polite to people we don’t know but I also want him to look for help if he is in trouble or gets lost. The other day in Mothercare he went to play with the trains, which is usual for us, but they’d had a mini re-fit and he couldn’t find me. He spoke to the ladies in the shop and told them his name and I found him with them. A little shy but he had done the right thing and not bolted out the shop straight into a carpark.” Emma @ Emma’s Thoughts

“My 2.5 year old is very confident around strangers. She’ll talk to anyone – the postman, a lady walking her dog, our next-door neighbour, other parents at soft play…. I do worry about this sometimes but cannot bring myself to stop her from being such a friendly little soul, especially as she’s always with myself or my husband. As she gets older, I will definitely talk to her about when it is and isn’t appropriate to talk to strangers. I never want her to think the worst of everyone she meets though.” Jenna @ Tinyfootsteps

“Not as such at the moment (L is 2.5 years) I would be wary of certain people and wouldnt let a stranger touch my daughter but dont see any harm if stranger is smiling, pulling faces or waving to her.” Victoria @ My Little L

“I originally did do the stranger danger chat with my stepchildren but since then learned about teaching children about “tricky people”. It’s not only strangers that can be dangerous.” Sian @ Quite Frankly She Said

“My 5yo old will chat to absolutely anyone. Particularly on public transport – she seems to think everyone on tube trains or buses is there specifically to interact with her. It’s lovely in some ways that she is friendly (and also quite amazing to me as I was never that kind of child) but it does also worry me, because she is quite a rascal at the moment too and likes to run off and hide from me. I’ve had a talk to her about people we don’t know, but I think it’s difficult to get across to her (without giving her nightmares for years – she is quite sensitive in that respect whenever anything about ‘baddies’ comes up) that while most people genuinely are just being friendly, some people might actually have an alternative agenda. We have had a chat about it but I still don’t think she understands. Will be interested to see how other people deal with it.
The photo is her last summer, with her new ‘friend’ on the tube. They chatted for an hour!” Lauren @ Mummy Is A Gadget Geek

strangers

Credit: Mummy Is A Gadget Geek

What is your take on ‘Do not talk to strangers?’ I would love to hear your thoughts.

25 Comments

  • Lynne

    January 11, 2017 at 9:46 am

    We don’t implement stranger danger either, I think as a society now we are sometimes taking things a tad too far. I understand dangers and do express these in a child friendly way to my smalls but I do want to bring up polite children who can express themselves openly when In public

    Reply
  • Emma

    January 11, 2017 at 10:23 am

    I teach the children the danger of going with strangers anywhere but I don’t teach them to completely ignore them as it can do more harm than good. A lot of things these days are totally sensationalised and I believe kindness is taught by example.

    Reply
    • Amy

      January 11, 2017 at 10:31 am

      Completely agree! I remember the whole ‘say no to drugs’ thing at school too. It clearly didn’t work for some others so I think its all about teaching not preaching ox

      Reply
  • Elaine @ Entertaining Elliot

    January 11, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    I think theres such a tricky balance! My son is 4 and loves talking to different people we meet, he isn’t shy at all and I love how polite he is to people. We have talked about the subject briefly but I didn’t want to scare him into thinking that all strangers were bad but at the same time he needs to know that not everyone is nice! I think it will be a subject that will get easier to discuss as he gets older and more understanding xx
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  • Clare aka Emmy's Mummy

    January 11, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Great post – I don’t do the stranger danger talk either, children copy by example so see me say Hello to the lady in the shop, the man walking his dog etc.
    We do talk about what dangers are around us though and not to go off with anyone even if they know them, not to get into a car, not to go around the corner if i can’t see them – and I’ve explained why too
    Clare aka Emmy’s Mummy recently posted…Top Tips from a Former Nanny: First Aid Essentials for every homeMy Profile

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  • Nicola

    January 11, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    I used to stand on my slide in my garden and shout hello to the people who walked past down the path next to our house. I loved it but then my mum made me stop.

    I think Sian has it spot on with ‘tricky people’. Not all strangers are a danger and not everyone you know are necessarily not a danger. I think most instances of abuse happen within a family?

    One day your child may need a strangers help and they need the confidence to be able to approach them. I am crap at talking to strangers and always eel anxious. I wonder if it’s because I was told to stop at such a young age and it was drummed in how bad they are?
    Nicola recently posted…Gender Disappointment // Is it Normal?My Profile

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  • Claire

    January 11, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    My little one is only 10 months old but even when at the shops and out and about, if people coo at him and say hello etc I tell him to say hello and thanks back (I know he can’t but I feel encouraging this would result in him being very polite and not scared to say boo to a goose kinda thing) yes it is scary out there, there are nasty people and there are some horrible goings on but I totally agree that it’s important to encourage politeness and our children being chatty and helpful but also to highlight what to do in an emergency, who to go to etc. One he starts running I know once we go somewhere I’ll have to explain to him if he can’t find me he has to speak to the people in uniform of the place haha! Though there is a fear that once someone sees him without me, he could easily be taken xx
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  • Expat Mum

    January 11, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I never did the stranger danger thing but did tell them not to go off with anyone etc. and then gave them a “secret word” from me if anyone told them I had said it was OK (for them to go with a stranger).
    I have 3 of the most talkative kids on the planet and if anything, it’s the stranger I feel sorry for as they become almost a captive audience whether it’s in the park, at the pool or in a shop. I usually walk up and say “Oh dear, you made eye contact didn’t you?”

    Reply
  • Sarah | Boo Roo and Tigger Too

    January 11, 2017 at 10:26 pm

    I don’t mind my children talking to strangers if I am present and can hear the conversation. Sadly we live in a different world to the one I was raised in when you should always say good morning etc as you walked along the street. Whilst I want my children to interact with the people they come across I do want to protect them from people who do not appear as kind and friendly as the let on.
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    • Amy

      January 11, 2017 at 10:38 pm

      I’m exactly the same and I agree about the different world. I just don’t want my girls to be the teenagers who make someone feel intimidated because they fear smiling at them! ox

      Reply
  • Imogene Reynolds

    February 27, 2017 at 10:34 am

    I always feel so iffy about this topic and never really know what to feel towards it. I’m getting to the stage with a nearly 6yo that I worry about the dark side of “strangers”. Children are so open (literally their life story sometimes!) and carefree and I worry that a situation could easily go wrong if it was in a mind to, but I’ve noticed since starting school he’s not very open to strangers and will immediately go quiet and look for someone he knows – but currently he’s at the bit where he’s either with us or at school. I’m dreading the part where you end up having to let them grow out side of that perimeter.. many discussions there! I’m more worried about Noah atm as he’s so friendly and will talk and play to anyone, anywhere. If they’re with me then I try to encourage general politeness but think it’s something for when they are a little older xx
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