Earlier this month, I wrote a short piece for Seattle’s Child about how Bus Nerd and I teach our kids to interact with strangers. Here’s a taste.
[We] don’t discourage our kids from talking to “strangers.” Like most parents, we have taught them never to go with a person they don’t know. But we also encourage and model safe and positive interactions, including making eye contact and greeting people, engaging in conversation, and helping those who need it.
We teach our kids how to recognize signs that someone is not safe to interact with: erratic behavior, inappropriate or aggressive language, invading personal space. And we empower them to decide what sort of interactions they’re comfortable with.
I certainly don’t have a magic bullet to protect my children (or anyone’s) from danger and violence. But the thing is, the more we isolate our kids and hide them away from the people they share the world with, the more disconnected and dangerous our communities become. We end up with fewer neighborhood friendships (and thus, more strangers), fewer “eyes on the street,” and lots more people in cars. And, as the number one killer of American children, cars are a significant threat to the safety of our communities.
Here’s to saying hi!