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“Don’t Talk to Strangers and Other Parenting Myths”

by  Alyssa Dver

No doubt, parenting is tricky.  Parenting information changes all the time plus everyone feels compelled to give their personal, often contradicting, opinions.  Unfortunately, even some of the basic “rules” of parenting can’t be trusted.  Here we discuss four such myths that can make life or death differences.  

MYTH #1: 

I am a careful, watchful parent and my kids are well behaved so they will never get lost.

It happens to virtually everyone: 7 out of 10 children will experience being lost at least once in their lives.  90% of families will be impacted and the traumatic memories of these incidents will forever remain in the minds of both the parent and child.   We teach our children to be curious and independent but then we scold then for getting accidentally lost.  Therefore, it is actually good parents that realize this is a common situation.  They proactively teach their children that getting lost can be dangerous and they all know what to if it happens.  While most incidents result in safe returns, both children and adults often retain traumatic memories for the rest of their lives. 

MYTH #2: 

Don’t talk to strangers.

When a child gets lost, he/she may be too scared, too young, or simply unable to communicate to assist an adult that is trying to help find the child’s caregiver.  One of the best safety practices is to tell your child to find another mommy if he/she gets lost. 

There is an important difference in empowering your child to ask a stranger for help versus having a stranger approach your child unsolicited.  Mommies are easy to identify and find in most family venues – plus mommies are usually eager to help (and least likely to harm) a distressed child.

MYTH #3: 

Don’t put identification outside of your child’s clothing.

Safe identification includes a cell phone number that is visible and easily accessible on a child.  If the child is lost, another person can quickly call to reunite the onsite caregiver.  Do not hide the information in a shoe or in the child’s clothing.  You do not want a stranger undressing your child to find such a clue.  Even if your child knows their home phone number, you don’t want to continuously be dialling your home voicemail to see if there is any information about your lost child.

Many parents worry about having a child’s name visible.  Even though most children will willingly give a stranger their name, there are dozens of other ways that a predator can lure your child away.  However, putting the child’s address is actually very dangerous because in the wrong hands, your home can become a target.  Whether going to a mall, to a ballgame, or to school, young children should always have safe identification visibly on them.

MYTH #4: 

My entire family dresses in the same color when we go to a crowded place. 

It may be cute but it is rather ineffective to put your family in the same colors unless they are very bright.  A small child can be much more easily spotted if they are in bright green or bright yellow.  Wearing such colors (hats, shirts, jackets, etc.) can make it easier for you to see them.  If you need to get other people’s help to find a lost child, the bright colors make it easier for them too.  It is more helpful to describe a child’s physical attributes (hair color, eye color, height, weight, etc.) when you can also note that they are wearing a unique color.  Keep that clothing as a special outfit for when you do venture away from home.  This will help you remember what the child is wearing should you need to recall that under stress.

These four parenting myths are just some of the unfortunate bad parenting advice that has been passed down for generations and not been updated given new technology and information.  Realize that these myths can be very harmful to your child and be a smart parent by preparing yourself and your family.  With less effort than it takes to put on a seatbelt, teach your children not to get lost and what to do in case it happens.

 

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