Monday, 22 March 2010

Strangers? - But Everybody Loves Me.

We have been having the stranger chat recently, it was prompted by smurf trying to strike up a conversation with some random bloke on the train, the poor bloke was trying his best to ignore the very persistent small child trying to engage him in mindless chatter about Spiderman, he was obviously uncomfortable being singled out for attention, smurf was oblivious to the discomfort and just kept on trying to get some sort of reaction.

After we got off the train I tried to explain to smurf that he shouldn't just talk to people that he didn't know, because not everyone was friendly and nice and some people didn't want to talk to children they didn't know, he looked at me with a completely bemused look on his face and said "but mummy everybody loves me".

I suppose children do find it hard to understand, because they are usually surrounded by love from all the people that do know them, it must be easy for them to assume that everyone will treat them with the same love and kindness. Also what exactly constitutes a stranger, smurf tends to think that after the first hello the person stops being a stranger.

I terrifies me that someone would take advantage of the fact children are so trusting and although I want to make smurf aware of this I don't want to stifle his natural friendliness and curiosity about people or frighten him into not wanting to interact with people.

Would be really interested in anyone else's ideas on broaching the stranger subject?


  1. Obviously I haven't really had to worry about this yet, so can't really offer advice - but I do know what you mean - The little dude 'talks' to everyone and anyone - and most people are all 'ah, he's lovely', but it is akward when he starts babbling to someone who's clearly *not* a baby person!

    I dread to think of the uncomfortable moments to come when he actually starts talking properly!

  2. My son is very much the same!

    A few weeks back he came inside after playing out doors with a pound coin that he said "a nice lady gave me"... My heart nearly exploded out of my chest!!

    I had to try and talk to him and ask him if the lady had said or done anything to him. Turns out she didn't and jad told him to run in and show his Mummy what she'd given him. Maybe she wanted to show me what he'd done, chatting and taking something from a "stranger"... and possibly what could have happened. Maybe she was just a nice old little lady who stopped and talked to HIM first, liking children, and liking getting a bit of company and attention for 5 minutes.

    I'll never know.

    It scared the hell out of me though!! And I speak to him regularly now about the dangers outside. And also he's been on the Safe, Strong and Free project... TWICE. Google it if you don't know what it is, but it's a good idea. Twice they came to his nursery, but he stayed behind a year from starting primary school so he got it two years in a row. He still spoke to strangers afterwards though! He's in the same way of thinking "but everyone loves me!". It's hard for them to understand.

    I think he's better now though, I think he may have seen the shock and fright in my face when he told me about the lady giving him money... I don't know, but he seems to be getting better. I just kept speaking to him before every time he went outside. We live in a quiet wee courtyard, so very rarely anyone else walking through it. It's very safe... but again... you never know. It can never be 100% safe, but you also can't wrap them up in cotton wool, ya know. It's hard.

    Just wanted to let you know you're not alone! Think it's something all Mums worry about and will always worry about.

  3. It's a really difficult one. I'm not quite at the stage of having that chat yet but agree that you don't want to turn them into someone who is suspicious and mistrusting of everyone. One for us all to worry about I think.

  4. Imogen would try to get strange men in the swimming pool to play with her! I was constantly having to tell her that she shouldn't do it. Her response? But, they're nice Mommy. That is the really scary bit...when I first started dating my mother said things completely reversed - instead of worrying about the strangers it was the ones who didn't seem like strangers that concerned her. Now I'm a mom I know what she means...also it is hard for a child to understand the difference between a friend and an acquaintance. They need to understand that it is ok to go next door to nice Auntie Flo. if they need adult help or have lost Mom, but they can't go into the house of the man down the road even if Mom smiles at him and waves as she drives past.

  5. Thanks so much for your comments, it is a really difficult one that we all have to deal with at some point, just hope I manage to get it right without frightening the beejessuses out of

  6. My eldest is 7 and still doesn't grasp the idea - she will tell random strangers in the supermarket everything given the chance. I have tried to explain it and she just doesn't get that not everyone in the world is "nice". I remember at her age my school did a lot of stuff covering "Stranger Danger" and I think they did it on Grange Hill too. I remember a song from somewhere too that went "Say no to strangers, say no, no, no, no, no" I don't remember the rest of the words though - but the message got through. I wonder whether they still do anything in schools now about it? If so I hope she does it soon!