Kid Smarts: Talking to Strangers

If I were a songwriter as talented as Taylor Swift, I’d probably write a song called Don’t Talk to Strangers (alternately entitled, “Who You Don’t Know Can Hurt You”).  That’s probably one of the early life lessons passed on to me by my parents which has stuck like crazy glue.  They have always stressed the importance of not talking to strangers as a precautionary form of action to ward off people with bad intentions.  Although there is a whole lot of truth to that, I do think it needs a little bit of tweaking in this day and age.

We parents must realize that there are some instances- although few and far between- when our kids may just have to talk to people they don’t know.  This is especially true when they’re lost or need help.    If they have to ask a stranger for help, remind them to look for people in uniform: policemen, security guards, etc.  Older people or those with kids can help too.  Tell your kid to be wary though, as not all good-looking people are necessarily kind-hearted.  Criminals now know better to shave and put on decent clothes when they’re on the prowl.

Here are the instances when your kids should not be talking to strangers:

A stranger offers them treats.  That sugary donut may look irresistibly scrumptious, but if it comes from a total stranger, there is a huge possibility that it may be laced with something which you’d find on a Top Ten Highly-Toxic Substances list.  Even toys can be covered in some harmful narcotic too, so remind your kids to just say no.

A stranger asks if your kid can keep a secret.  This act simply spells sleaziness, as he is trying to lure your kid and put him under his spell.  There can’t possibly be anything good that person has to do or say.

A stranger asks to touch your kid’s private parts- or asks your kid to touch his.  The stranger may say all sorts of things to try to earn your kid’s trust enough to make him do all sorts of unimaginable things.

It just doesn’t feel right.  Your kid should use his or her instincts too.  When he feels uncomfortable talking to someone, he should just walk away and find someone else to turn to.

Hard as we try, we parents can’t and will not always be there to protect our dear children.  If we arm them with the right knowledge about what goes on around us, they will be better-equipped to take care of themselves when the need arises.



Cultivate Curiosity in Your Children

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it definitely never injured a preschooler.  Curiosity is a strong and positive emotion which we parents must cultivate in our children.  It is basically inherent in us all, that’s why kids have the unshakeable habit of always asking “Why?”

Do you sometimes brush off your little one when he or she keeps asking you questions while you’re in the middle of something?  It’s time we stopped ignoring the kid and answered his questions- wisely, not in a wisecracking way.  Of course, we parents do get tired doing this, but we should keep in mind that whatever we do or say always has an effect on our kids.  When we tend to ignore their questions, they may start to feel discouraged, and later on feel that it’s not at all important that they want to learn things.  It puts a lid on their ability to express themselves openly to their parents.

Instead of pushing their queries aside, we must cultivate this inquisitive nature in our children.  It is essential that we feed and nurture this thirst for knowledge.  What can we do to develop this curiosity for learning?

Seek answers together.  Hit your local library and check out the books as resources.  Even at home you can surf the internet together and scour the web for answers.

To make it even more fun, you can visit the zoo or a museum so you can explore and learn at the same time.

You can likewise develop their inquisitive nature by asking your child questions which require more than one-word answers.  For example, “Why do you think that crocodile moves that way?”  Encourage your kids to ask questions when they want clarification on a topic, or if they simply want to learn more about something.

When you immerse yourself in your kid’s learning journey, you become a huge part of his lifelong love for learning.  This marriage of curiosity and learning nourishes not only your child’s intellect, but also the loving relationship between you two.  You learn and love together- and will finally know the difference between a crocodile and an alligator…