This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
It’s okay to talk to strangers, not to go with them.
The term “stranger danger” is one that every parent knows, and most kids have heard this phrase as well. Strangers are dangerous, and you need to stay away from them is the common thinking that goes into this. While the root of what is taught in this phrase is important, all too often it’s taken to the extreme and can be detrimental to your child as well. Make sure they really understand the rule.
Your child should never go with a stranger somewhere. You don't get in the car with them, you don’t walk with them somewhere, and you don’t let yourself be found alone with them. You don’t know if you can actually trust a stranger, and so you need to keep your guard up, and stay in public places with them where others can see the situation. If others can see you, then you’re much safer.
Your child should know how to talk to a stranger though. They should know that it’s okay to talk to a stranger in certain situations. Make sure that they know what they can and can’t say to a stranger. For example, giving out personal information to a stranger is generally not something they should do. If your child is lost and can’t find you, giving out that personal information is alright though.
This is the primary reason that your child needs to be able to talk with strangers though. If they are lost, they need to know how to find an adult that they can talk to in order to try and find you. If your child is lost and refuses to talk to someone because they’re a stranger, they can make a stressful situation last much longer than it may really need to. Your child should know how to find an adult to talk to.
There are many devices these days that you can give to your child to help them from getting lost, and if they do then you can find them more easily. But you simply never know when that technology may not work. When it really comes down to it, you want your child to be able to tell someone that they’re lost and to do what they can to be able to find you as well - it relieves a lot of stress.
Beyond getting lost, simply being able to interact with other people and learning to properly carry on a conversation is something that your child will have to learn to do at some point. While your child shouldn’t be walking up to strangers at the park to do this all the time, they also should begin to learn that talking with other people is something that everyone does - they don’t need to be paralyzed by it.
If your child never learns to interact with others, or they believe that all other people are bad or dangerous, then they will grow up having a hard time when they do have to interact and converse with others. They’ll likely be afraid to look people in the eye when they talk, and simply be suspicious of other people. You want them to be able to comfortably interact with people and talk with them as an adult.
Strangers can be dangerous, but you should teach your child how to correctly talk with them, and that there are times when it’s important that you engage with them.