Did I get your attention? Good. I want you to teach your kids to be disobedient, here’s why…
To clarify, I’m all for fully expecting my children to be good and respectful children. This not only applies to their elders but to other children as well. Most of the time they fulfill my expectation but sometimes we need to correct them, that’s normal.
Equally important to my wife’s and my expectations is that our society (believe it or not) expects our children to be obedient, from school teachers (for sure) to policemen and more. Granted, teenagers may be another story but let’s focus on younger school children.
You see, there’s a very specific problem with the always obedient expectation that is placed on our kids. More accurately, there’s hole in our logic.
Think about your children for a moment. From the time they can walk and talk until the time that they are capable of caring for themselves society expects them to be respectful and, more importantly, obedient to adults. This is almost always a good thing, expect for one very specific situation: stranger danger.
Yes, stranger danger. Sure we as parents and even schools do our best to watch over our children, teach them who a stranger is, the dirty ploys they might try, and so on. The problem I have is this: we expect that during the one and only time our children SHOULD be disobedient to an adult (the bad stranger) that they WILL be disobedient despite the fact that their entire life they have been trained to always be obedient to adults.
Does that sound illogical to you? It does to me.
On the one hand I believe that it’s likely any child confronted with a stranger danger scenario will instinctively feel uneasy and intuitively believe something is not quite right. On the other hand, they will have an overriding desire to obey and to please any adult because they have been trained their entire life to do so.
So, the question is this: do you feel that simply talking to your children about stranger danger and explaining to them when they can and should be disobedient to an adult will be enough for them to choose to do so? I’m beginning to think the answer is NO.
My conundrum is that I’m really not sure what to do about it. We have talked with our children and asked them open-ended questions, but the fact still remains that these evil adults are very cunning and probably seem like nice people that should be obeyed.
Perhaps the best answer that I can come up with is what’s already been given elsewhere and that is to be laser-specific in precisely what would happen in a given circumstance.
For starters, make it crystal clear exactly who would pick them up or take them somewhere (mom, dad, aunt, uncle, specific friend, etc) and that under no circumstances will anyone else do so… ever. This includes policemen and firemen. While I’m thinking about it, kids need to understand exactly what a police officer looks like (their dress, the squad car, badge, gun, etc) and that, regardless of what anyone says, if they don’t truly look and act like a police officer then not to trust them… I’m sure the real policemen and firemen will understand.
Second, teach them the tricks that these people play. If they’ve heard the ploys before then they’re more likely to recognize them (or something similar) in the future. This includes statements like “It’s ok, you mom said it was ok,” “your mom and dad are hurt and in the hospital and I need to take you there immediately,” or “my dog is lost will you help me find him?” The more able your children are to recognize what a ruse sounds like the better off they will be to spot others.
Above all else, teach them to use their instincts and teach them that you would never be upset or unhappy with them if they truly felt the situation was extraordinary. That has to be the most important piece of advice. You, the parent, are the adults children are most afraid to upset. If you can show that you’ll never be upset about their actions with a stranger then they may also choose to have the power to do what you expect of them: to disobey an adult.
Last, keep reminding them. Ask them different questions, quiz them, maybe even role play a bit. Like any aspect of preparedness, practice makes perfect.