We have a couple of children we see often, ages 5 and 7, they recently invited our girls to the local playground without an adult. I was uncomfortable, but said yes. The local playground is about 3 walking blocks away, 5 driving.
First, I didn’t know this, but the girls didn’t have their parent’s permission to go to the playground without an adult. Now the parents say yes because we said yes.
The girls stop by almost daily asking my children to go out either to the local pond, field, or playground.
I’ve learned that the girls ask my daughters to leave the playground (or where ever I’ve said they could go) every time they go. Sometimes it’s, “let’s stop at B’s place to see if he can play” or maybe some other kids house. But they’ve also asked my children to leave our neighbourhood, to go to people’s homes my children don’t know, and to cross the busy road to go to the strip mall stores.
On top of this, these girls ask my daughters to give them things whenever they come over, and Ella has told me the girl steals money (change on the floor or such). In the past we’ve talked about ‘tricky adults’ we’ve also talked about internet safety and ways people might trick a child into doing things they shouldn’t do.
Today as I talked to Ella I pointed out the similarities between her friend and a ‘tricky adult’ and her friend and the ‘bad’ internet people. *trying to get Ella to go somewhere without permission, trying to get her to not tell her parents things, trying to make Ella do things to ‘help’ her friend that meant breaking our rules, trying to get Ella to do something her tummy voice told her not to*
Ella had a light bulb moment. She looked at me and said, “We’ve talked about it, and I didn’t see it. I thought those were things people just talk about that don’t really happen. I didn’t think it was real!”
So please take note and talk to your kiddos again. I’m pretty comfortable with the level Ella understands and understood these things and the level to which she would listen to herself, but she still could have ended up in a bad situation. Luckily she did come and talk to me, and luckily the person doing this was a kid who likely has no intention of harming anyone.
If you don’t already, talk to your children about tricky adults, talk about internet safety, and all about their tummy voice!! I believe the fact that we’ve already talked about this allowed Ella the strength to stand up against her friend, and to come to me when her friend didn’t listen. It possibly saved our family from heartbreak.
The current agreement with our children is they will not be going anywhere without an adult. This was their decision because they are so worried about what happened.
We don’t give rewards for many things, but in this case Ella is getting an item she’s been saving up for for months. We’ll buy it for her because today she learned a valuable lesson that could safe her life. Possibly already did safe her life.