Here's a topic I haven't yet seen on this board. How do you have the delicate conversation with your child about the dangers of not being in the parent's sight. The worst case scenario is being kidnapped, but what a scary topic for a child. My 3 year old son yesterday went into our front yard while I was in the bathroom -I came out the bathroom and couldn't find him, only to look out the window and see him hanging out in our front gated yard. He said "it's OK Mommy, the cars can't come through the gate". Of course we can get child proof locks, but in general I wonder when and how to have the 'not all people are good' type conversation. The other day he ran away from me in Key Food, thinking it was funny to go around the isle where I couldn't see him. My heart dropped for the minute I couldn't find him. I explain to him that he can't do that because he might get lost and he said he wouldn't get lost. I can be strict and lay it down as a rule he just has to follow, but he's 3 and curious and adventurous, so he does better when he gets the reasoning behind a rule. I want him to be safe, however, I don't want to scare him or to make him mistrustful of people. Have others broached this topic and if so, how and when?
Thanks to everyone who responded, both privately and to the list. Most people had begun these discussions when their children were in the late 2's entering their 3's. Generally, the recommendation was to be very direct and let children know the dangers of getting lost and being kidnapped. One person used the word 'swipe' as children can relate to that from Dora. Helpful suggestions also were to have children learn their full name and address in the event they are lost, and to have a clear rule that 'if you can't see me then I can't see you, and we must always be able to see each other' and enforce it often. Those who had watched videos on the subject said the child should kick and scream if someone tried to grab them. Suggested links are www.thesafeside.com and www.ojjdp.ncjrs.gov. Also, many talked to their children about not letting someone touch them in a way that made them uncomfortable, and it was brought up that most molestations happen by people the child already knows. Perhaps most interesting to me was a few people's comments that a child should never be encouraged to be affectionate to an adult - it should happen naturally and it's OK if it doesn't. Children have great instincts and we shouldn't try to override them, but intead encourage them to listen to their instincts. Polite and obedient children who try to please are most at risk in dangerous situations. A child should never be afraid to say no to an adult.