Protecting Kids Without Making Them Fearful


My wife is big on safety and crime avoidance. Sometimes I think this goes too far and can make kids too fearful. For example, when my six year old daughter sees a van she is concerned that a “burglar” may try to grab her. My wife thinks that awareness is built over time and that this is an appropriate level of savvy. I am concerned that it may be too much for this age. I don’t want the kids to have a paranoid fearful world view. Thoughts? Thanks.

Dear Matt,

In your own way, you and your wife are both right. Children need to be safe and secure in their own world. Their security depends on their parents. By letting them know that you love them and will do anything in your power to protect them, they will get that feeling of security. They will see you and your wife and their home as a place that they can be safe.

On the other hand there are bad things going on in the world and children need to know what to look out for. They need to know about good touch and bad touch at a fairly early age because often times it can be people they trust who betray them. They also need to know that strangers often times don’t have their best interest in mind. I asked my granddaughter at about age five if she would help a man if he asked her to help him look for his dog . Would she do that. She readily agreed that she would, so we had a discussion about what could happen.
Six year olds are very trusting and naive. Hopefully things can be presented to them in a way to make them cautious but not so fearful. Some children are more sensitive and will see danger around every corner. They may need reassurance that bad things don’t happen all the time but they need to know what to look out for.

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