I’ve said it a million times to my kids: Be nice! Be polite! Don’t be rude!
Don’t we all hope our kids are polite, respectful children when we’re not around? My husband and I have tried to teach our kids to be kind to others and mindful of their manners. As kids get older, the only way you know you’ve been successful in your preachings/teachings is when another adult says, “Oh, Soo, I saw your sweet daughter at school and she said hello!” or “Your son is so polite. We enjoy having him over to play.” Those little comments are so great to hear, aren’t they? They let us know we’re doing something right in this difficult journey of parenthood!
Just a few weeks ago, a situation happened that reminded me it’s not all about being nice and polite. We also have to remind our children to Be safe!! I was home with my 8 year old daughter and 12 year old son, but I was in the garage. I thought I heard the doorbell ring, but I wasn’t sure. A few minutes went by and my son came into the garage and said, “Some man is standing at our front door.” I asked if it was a delivery guy and he said, “No. Just some guy. He’s standing there with B.” (We live on a street tucked back in our neighborhood. We almost never get strangers at the door.) Those who know me know I’m not much of a panic or worry type of person, but let’s just say I did a little run-shuffle as fast as I could to the front door. There stood B with the door wide-open and a stranger standing in front of her. He was selling something and I said “No thank you” and closed the door.
So here I am, the Queen of Camp Careful and Stranger Danger talks, looking at my own kids who just opened a door to a stranger and stood there with them. I might have kicked into lecture mode (by that I mean I did) and screamed, “Do you know it only takes 2 seconds to get kidnapped?!? Kids get kidnapped in Waco!” Okay, so my job at the Advocacy Center has me a little on edge. I need to calm down! I asked my daughter why she answered the door. She said she thought it was fine since I was home. Fair enough. I was in the garage and nowhere near where I could see or hear her, but I understand her thinking. I asked her what she thought when she saw a stranger standing there. She said she thought, “Umm. This isn’t good. I shouldn’t have opened the door.” So she had an “Uh-Oh” feeling. I asked her why she didn’t close the door then? She said, “I didn’t want to be rude.” Yikes. S ended up walking by and said he also thought, “Why is this guy standing here? I should get Mom.” He too had an “Uh-Oh” feeling, but he left the door open and left B standing there with the stranger when he went to find me. Double-yikes! He also said he didn’t want to be rude by closing the door on the guy.
Lesson learned. We’ve worked so hard to teach our kids to be polite and nice. In most circumstances, closing the door on someone is rude, of course! But we have to teach our children that it’s OKAY to be rude if you feel unsafe or have an “Uh-Oh” or bad feeling. We need to teach them this because it goes against everything you’ve probably already taught your kids about manners and politeness and kindness. It is okay to be rude to keep yourself safe. Give your children permission to be rude. This permission allows them to say no to strangers, walk away from adults who scare or threaten them, and even say no to sexual abuse that might be happening to them by a loved one. So, kids, go ahead and be rude! Avoid eye contact! Say no! Don’t respond to the adult! Slam that door! Walk away! It just might save your life!
As a reminder, what should your kids do when approached by a stranger in a scary or threatening way?
- Get away from them and back to a safe adult as soon as possible. Remember, never be alone with a stranger!
- If a stranger is trying to take them and the parent is not near, yell “HELP!! You’re not my Dad!” or “HELP!! You’re not my Mom!” This will get other people’s attention.
- Your kid needs to kick and scream and punch and FIGHT back! Again, this will get other people’s attention and often discourage the abductor from completing his crime.
Please discuss these situations with your child on a regular basis. As with all of my lessons on child safety, repetition is key. Don’t forget the next Camp Careful classes are on Sunday February 21st. Two classes sold out, but I’ve added a few spots so sign up quickly! https://www.campcareful.com/events/
Thank you, and as always, empower your kids and stay safe!
Soo Battle, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this website/blog is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the relationship that exists between you and your pediatrician or doctor. Please contact your doctor for medical advice and/or treatment recommendations specific to your child.