Do you ever wonder if the conversations you are having with your children about personal safety are sticking with them? Would your younger children know what to do if they were in a situation where someone tried to abduct them, their siblings or their friends?

I’ve had several conversations with my 4-year-old about the importance of being aware of her surroundings and the people with whom she is interacting. We talk about why it isn’t safe to run off in a crowded place or go somewhere we can’t see her. As well as what to do if she gets lost and how to handle a situation where someone tries to abduct her, her sister or her friends. Most of the time I feel like it goes in one ear and out the other. She always has something better to do than sit there and listen to Mom give personal safety lessons. I mean she’s 4, she has a lot going on in her little world! But the other day something happened that made me realize that despite her lack of interest and interaction during these important conversations, she is in fact listening.

We were at the Safari Park and being a weekend it was very busy. We had both the girls safe in the stroller and were making our way to the next exhibit, when all of a sudden my oldest daughter starts yelling and pointing, “Mommy, Mommy look! That stranger has my sister! Stop her!”

There was a family about 10 feet ahead of us and the Mom was holding hands while walking with her young daughter. From the back, the little girl looked a lot like my youngest. They were wearing pretty much the same outfit, their hair was the same color (even styled the same) and they looked about the same height.

I immediately bent down to calm my frantic 4-year-old. I let her know that her sister was safe and sitting right behind her. She quickly turned around and said “Whew, I was really worried that, that lady had my sister!” She gave her sister a kiss and then sat back in her seat with a relived smile on her face.

I was shocked by how quickly she reacted and extremely proud. She knew exactly what to do in that situation. She was brave, got our attention and let us know that her sister was in danger, or so she thought. So she has been paying attention to our safety talks! Awesome!

It’s so important to keep the personal safety conversations going even if you think your kids aren’t listening or are too young to understand because they are listening and they do understand.

I started having personal safety talks with my daughter just before her 3rd birthday. I vividly remember the first conversation we had. It was as soon as we got home from the grocery store, where she decided to run off for the first time. I was frantic, she thought it was hilarious and in that moment I realized, she wouldn’t know what to do if she got lost or if someone tried to abduct her.

From that day on we’ve had regular casual conversations about personal safety. I’m so glad that despite her lack of interest, we continued to keep the conversations going. After what happened the other day, I’m fully confident that she will know what to do if god forbid a scary situation arises.

Here are some key points to remember when talking to your kids about personal safety and abduction prevention:

1. Don’t use the term “Stranger Danger.” Although it seems like a good tool, it really isn’t. It may be difficult for younger children to understand and recognize the difference between a stranger who could help them and a stranger who may potentially hurt them. Also, how can you expect a young child to have the confidence to seek help, if they are taught that all strangers are dangerous? Instead, teach them who to turn to for help if they are lost or find themselves in a scary situation. For example a store clerk, a mom with kids, a police officer in uniform.

2. Be sure to communicate the importance of getting your permission prior to going anywhere with anyone. Did you know that only 25% of child abductions are by strangers? Most children are abducted by someone they know; a family member, friend, neighbor or acquaintance. How scary is that?! When it comes to school age children it’s a good idea to have a password. That way if your child is expecting you to pick them up from school, practice, etc. and someone else shows up, your child will have to ask them for the password. If that person can’t provide your child with the correct password on the first try, then your child knows not to go with them.

3. Tell your kids to be aware of the people they are interacting with. Let them know that they need to come to you right away if someone is making them feel uncomfortable, is hurting them, tries to get them to go somewhere or tells them that they need to keep a secret. It’s important that your children feel comfortable to come to you If they feel they are in danger.

You can never have too many conversations with your children about personal safety. Knowledge is power! If you give them the right tools and confidence, you will have the peace of mind knowing that they will know how to react in a scary situation.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Kristin Whiteside

Kristin is a perfectly imperfect mom of two and loves sharing her journey of growing with her kids. When she's not writing for her blog, http://www.knowmom.net/ you can find her having dance parties and baking with her daughters, running a local moms group, hanging with her hilarious husband and spending time with family and friends. More than likely she will have a glass of red wine in hand and befriend you instantly! You can follow Kristin on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/knowmom/, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/knowmomblog/ and Pinterest, https://www.pinterest.com/knowmomblog .

I Had to Learn to Say “I’m Sorry” to My Kids

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom hugs tween daughter

My two oldest kiddos are at the front end of their teen years. I remember that time in my own life. I was loud, somewhat dramatic, I let my hormones control me, and I never—ever—apologized. This last part was because no one ever really taught me the value of apology or relationship repair. Now, I could do some parent blaming here but let’s be real, if you were a kid whose formative years were scattered between the late ’80s and early ’90s, did you get apologies from your parents? If so, count that blessing! Most parents were still living with...

Keep Reading

5 Things Your Child’s Kindergarten Teacher Wants You To Know

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child raising hand in kindergarten class

I am a teacher. I have committed my life to teaching children. Of course, before I began this career, I had visions of standing in front of a group of eager-eyed children and elaborating on history, science, and math lessons. I couldn’t wait to see the “lightbulb” moments when students finally understood a reading passage or wrote their first paper. And then I had my first day. Children are not cut out of a textbook (shocking, I know) but as a young 23-year-old, it knocked me right off my feet. I was thrown into the lion’s den, better known as...

Keep Reading

To the Extended Family That Shows Up: We Couldn’t Do This Without You

In: Kids, Living, Motherhood
Family visiting new baby in a hospital room

This picture—my heart all but bursts every time I see it.  It was taken five years ago on the day our daughter was born. In it, my husband is giving her her very first bath while our proud extended family looks on. It was a sweet moment on a hugely special day, but gosh–what was captured in this photo is so much more than that. This photo represents everything I could have ever hoped for my kids: That they would have an extended family who shows up in their lives and loves them so deeply.  That they would have grandparents,...

Keep Reading

You’re Almost Grown, But You’re Always Welcome Back Home

In: Kids, Motherhood
Teen in room studying with computer and smartphone

Dear child, In the days before you could walk or talk, there were times when you would wail—when my rocking and shushing and bouncing were seemingly futile—but it didn’t matter. Each day and night, multiple times, I always picked you up and welcomed you back into my arms. As a toddler and a preschooler, you had some pretty epic meltdowns. There were times when you would thrash and scream, and all I could do was stand by and wait for the storm to blow over. Eventually, you would run to me, and I would welcome you back with a warm embrace....

Keep Reading

No One Warned Me About the Last Baby

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding newborn baby, black-and-white photo

No one warned me about the last baby. When I had my first, my second, and my third, those first years were blurry from sleep deprivation and chaos from juggling multiple itty-bitties. But the last baby? There’s a desperation in that newborn fog to soak it up because there won’t be another. No one warned me about the last baby. Selling the baby swing and donating old toys because we wouldn’t need them crushed me. I cried selling our double jogger and thought my heart would split in two when I dropped off newborn clothes. Throwing out pacifiers and bottles...

Keep Reading

Parents Are Terrible Salespeople for Parenting

In: Kids, Motherhood
Tired mother with coffee cup on table, child sitting next to her

As the years of fertility start to wane, many of my childless peers are confronted with the question, “Should I have kids?” With hesitation, they turn to us parents who, frankly, seem overwhelmingly unhappy. They ask sheepishly, “Is it worth it?” We lift our heads up, bedraggled, bags under our eyes, covered in boogers and sweat and spit up, we mutter, “Of course! It’s so fulfilling!” It’s like asking a hostage if they like their captor. Sure, it’s great. We love them. But our eyes are begging for liberation. Save me, please. I haven’t slept through the night in years....

Keep Reading

Soak in the Moments because Babies Don’t Keep

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Roller coaster photo, color photo

I love marking the moments, the ones that count—making a note and storing them for memory. But I often miss out on them when it comes to our oldest. ⁣ ⁣The day he wanted to be baptized, I was at home with another kiddo who was sick. He called me from church excitedly, emphasizing he was ready and didn’t want to wait. I couldn’t argue with that, so I watched him go underwater through videos my husband and sweet friends in the congregation took. ⁣ ⁣On the day of his fifth-grade graduation, we found ourselves at the pediatrician’s office. Instead...

Keep Reading

Sometimes a Kid Just Needs a Sick Day

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy outside, color photo

My middle son stayed home from school today. He said he was sick. I’m not sure that is the truth. I was lucky enough to have a mom who was an amazing caretaker, especially when you were sick. She pulled out all the stops. A cozy clean space to be, a thermos with ice cold juice by your side, Mrs. Grass’s soup, and Days of Our Lives on the screen while she tidied up the house. It was the best feeling in the world to be home and cozy with my mom when I was sick. It felt cozy and...

Keep Reading

Sometimes We Need Someone to Just Sit With Us in Our Struggle

In: Kids, Motherhood
Sad woman sits on floor, black and white image

Early this morning, I told (yelled is more accurate) my sons to get up with the same furious ferocity I use every morning when I realize they should be ready to go, but are still unconsciously snoozing away. One son lazily said, “I’m up, Mom” (even though he was very much not up). The other son, who typically has no problems getting up, had overslept and immediately freaked out, thinking he would be late to school. He proceeded to have a mini-meltdown from the dark recesses of his bedroom. That overflowed into the hallway where I found him lying face-down,...

Keep Reading

Daughter of Mine, Do Not Let the World Extinguish Your Fire

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter, color photo

Daughter of mine, I see the fire behind your eyes. Do not let it die. Daughter of mine who runs wildly and loves freely and whose anger is always whipping silently just under the surface like a pilot light, ready to ignite with one tiny spark. Do not let it die. RELATED: There is Wild Beauty in This Spirited Child of Mine Daughter of mine, one day you will become a woman, and the world will try to steal you and mold you and tell you who to become. Do not let it. It will try to fit you in...

Keep Reading