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STRANGERDANGER?

When my son and I are walking in our neighborhood or to the grocery store, he will say hello to everyone who passes by. He observes me saying hello to our neighbors and chooses to follow in my footsteps. However, as adults, we can mostly discern between who we should be friendly towards.

Therefore, it seemed like a good time to discuss differentiating between good and bad strangers. I wasn’t sure how to start the conversation.

As I was skimming children’s books online, I saw The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers by Stan and Jan Berenstain. God confirmed my decision to teach my son about strangers because I was not actively looking for a book on this subject. I was very thankful for this realization.

In this book, Brother Bear was cautious and wary of strangers. Sister Bear, similar to my son, was “friendly to a fault” and said hello to everyone. Brother intervened and told his sister to stop talking to strangers, but he couldn’t articulate why.

They ask Papa Bear about strangers and he replies by showing Sister Bear a newspaper article of a missing Bear cub and reading a bedtime story about a goose who was eaten by a strange fox. These stories terrify Sister Bear and she could not sleep at night. Like Mama Bear, I was looking for a balanced approach in my explanation about strangers. Although as you read the book, you will see Papa Bear’s approach was somewhat effective as well.

Mama Bear tells Sister that not all strangers are bad, in fact more people are friendly, but there are a few “bad apples.” She uses an excellent hands-on approach with apples as a visual to explain this concept. There is a twist at the end of this story where Sister Bear was not the family member who engaged with a stranger.

There are two more bonuses in this book. Mama Bear explains the difference between tattling and informing an adult of a problem out of love and worry. Additionally, there are rules for dealing with strangers at the end that are helpful to parents talking with their children.

So how can children differentiate between good and bad strangers?

It is hard to differentiate so be careful around strangers in case you encounter a “bad apple.”  Also use COMMON SENSE, “which tells us what do to in situations that are not covered by rules.”

Common Sense can be displayed when children have positive or negative feelings towards strangers. Some small children may not be able to express their feelings but they show it. For example, when my son was younger, he would hug my leg when he felt uncomfortable around a stranger. Encourage children who can express themselves to discuss their reactions and feelings towards select strangers, with your supervision of course.

Read this book with your child to find out the story’s twist and to learn about strangers through the eyes of the Berenstain Bears.

Happy Learning!

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6 thoughts on “Teaching Kids to Differentiate Between Good and Bad Strangers

  1. True. That’s something parents/guardians need to start doing early on but at the same time teaching kids to recognize certain behaviours that give away bad strangers.

    1. Hello Kemi! Thank you so much for your comment. Thank you for the suggestion also. I will be writing a post soon that addresses this issue.

  2. It really is hard to differentiate because you do not know a person beforehand. Most people might be friendly but knowing who is safe to be around is important. Good tips here.

  3. This is such a good read! We try to teach kids to be wary of strangers but at the same time we want them to be friendly. I think there must be strong distinction between the two.

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