I’m really lucky that both Aidan and Sarah are very social kids. Neither of them are shy, they instantly make friends with other kids and adults alike. You would never think it, but Aidan is slightly more shy than his sister. It always takes him a few minutes to warm to new people, but once he does he’s in like Flynn!
It’s a real blessing, because I know that if someone has to mind them for me there won’t be any issues. Indeed, when we switched childminders last year it was a total breeze because they instantly loved their new minder and there was never any issues dropping them off in the mornings.
Last Sunday, however, I caught a glimpse of the potential downside to their friendly natures, particular from Sarah.
With Daddy Chambers off down in Dingle for a stag party, myself and the kids decided to make the best of the weather and head for a stroll in Liffey Linear Park in Newbridge. I parked the car up and off we went.
Zero concept of stranger danger
We weren’t two minutes in to the walk when Sarah spotted a man relaxing on a bench. Of course, he said hello to us as we walked by. The next thing I know Sarah is up beside him on the bench giving him a big hug as if he was her long-lost uncle.
Now, first off let me say that this man was perfectly nice and friendly. Not a thing wrong with him. However, Sarah’s actions got me thinking about stranger danger and how to teach my kids not to talk to and randomly hug strangers in public.
I’ve touched on this subject with Aidan before and he kind of gets it. However, Sarah is only three so I’m not quite sure how to have that conversation with her.
Not long after she finished hugging the long-lost uncle, a woman stopped and asked me for directions. And again, Sarah was instantly all over her like a rash. She clung on to this woman’s leg, and beamed up at her with her cheeky grin. The woman thought she was adorable and she is, but again, it’s not the appropriate thing to do.
On the walk back to the car I tried to tell her that she shouldn’t hug people she doesn’t know. “Why mammy? Hugs are nice,” was the response I got. I just love her innocence and she’s right hugs are nice.
I then proceeded to tell her that not everyone in the world is nice unfortunately. I told her that there are ‘baddies’ out there and she needs to be careful who she talks to and who she hugs.
Well she was having absolutely none of it. My words really riled her. She very pointedly informed me that there was no such thing as bad people. “I’ve never met a baddy, mammy,” she said. And she’s right. Everyone in her little world is nice to her. Everyone is kind to her; the way it should be for a three-year-old.
At home she has us who are nice to her, she has a childminder who is nice to her and she has teachers and friends in playschool that are nice to her. On top of that she has grandparents who spoil her rotten, and aunts and uncles that do the same. The TV programmes she loves, such as Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly, are also full of nice stories.
This is how us, as parents, want it to be for our kids but I’m wondering how I can explain to her that the world has potential to be ugly without bursting her wee bubble?
Or, at three, is she too young to be informed of such things? Do I just leave her off and let her hug who she wants? She’s never left anywhere on her own so is it any harm if she chats and hugs with strangers when I’m with her, when Daddy Chambers is with her or when the childminder is with her?
Then there’s the other side of it. I could see quite clearly that the man on the bench didn’t know what to be doing when she sauntered up to him and gave him a hug! He was awkward and I think I would be too if a random kid done the same to me.
If you’re a parent with older kids who has already taught them about stranger danger then I would be so grateful if you could get in touch with me and let me know the best way to talk to her about this. It’s all new to me so some guidance would be great. I’m always looking for guidance because most of the time I’m winging it as a parent!
Thanks in advance folks!