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December 12, 2007


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Hello there! This post could not be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing! - VISIT X

You're on the right track with teaching the phone number in a song. Make up your own song--that way she can't tell you you're using the wrong words. I have a couple daughters like that. As for the private parts discussion, and everything else, unfortunately, it takes repetition and more repetition. Kids are slow that way. Drives you nuts. But you really are the best teacher. You might end up homeschooling.

Hi, I found your blog thru blogher and thought I'd add a comment. My boys are almost 4 yrs. and 18 mo. We started with the oldest a few months before he was 3 and just began by teaching him the name of his street. We would rehearse it over and over for about a week (maybe longer, to make sure he really got it) before we added a new piece of information. He will be 4 next month and currenlty knows, his street name (not the number), city, state, the first 5 digits of his phone number, the 4 of our full names, where his daddy works and there are probably more that I can't think of right now. We just rehearse all the time like it's a game. I bet if he ever got lost he could tell someone how to drive to our house b/c he remembers where most places are and can tell you which way to turn, etc. It's amazing how much they can retain if given the information in small amounts that are age appropriate.

We have had the discussion about private things and who is allowed to touch private parts, etc. I have a delimma with 911 b/c we only have cell phones, no land line.... but we'll figure it out.

Try not to freak out too much, it IS possible to teach them these things and they actually enjoy learning anyway! In time she will learn all the things necessary to get her home if she were to ever get lost - hopefully we'll all teach our children these things and never have to go thru the agony of wondering where they are and if they remenber what they were taught.

I was just thinking about the whole 911 thing too. I figure Thalia can reprogram my whole iPhone already, she could certainly learn how to hit 3 numbers.

Pardon me while I bookmark this post. So much good stuff in here. (And now I'm going to sleep for real.)

P.S. Sorry to post twice, I'm opinionated on this subject - it's my job.
Secrets: two angles
- a problem is NEVER a secret!
- Secrets that are just for a short time and then won't be a secret any more are okay (birthday suprises, gifts etc). Secrets that are meant to be for ever are not okay.

It's okay, you can keep your children safe without scaring them. Look at www.kidpower.org. If you teach your child that they can say "Please don't put your hand on my shoulder, I don't like it." to anyone, even a teacher or relative, the potential abuser will leave them alone. Teach them that most strangers are safe, but you don't know which ones so ALWAYS check first. Kidpower runs workshops and has materials for all ages. They teach personal safety skills to even very small kids and leave them feeling empowered, not anxious. They even teach them how to get their mother's attention when she's on the computer and she's telling them "Not now, I'm busy." Ooops!
I also did the phone number with the marker pen thing, but first go to Google and put in your number, try not to freak out when not only does your address come up but a handy map too! Click on the box that says you want to be removed.
And Kristen, if there isn't a Kidpower Center near you, think about becoming an instructor, you'd be great!

I don't post too many comments, but I just felt like I wanted to this time. I am new to blogging, but I have noticed that many people post pictures of themselves and of their children. I was a cop for the past 10 years, and I can't say enough that I think this is not the best idea. Take it from me, there are a lot of strange people out there that are looking for a chance to do someone harm. I have seen it firsthand. My only other advice would be that, before you let your child go to another child's house to play, find out who will be home, if there are any older children who will be present, dads, uncles, etc. Stick around the first time they go to that person's house so you can get a feel for things. This may sound like paranoia, but trust me, you just never know. I knew of a case where a 6 yoa girl went to a neighbor's house to play with another child and pornographic pictures of her later surfaced on the internet. I've served search warrants and seen things that you never want to know exist, and things that surely, you never would have dreamed existed. You can never be too careful. About how to talk to your kids about that, that is a hard one. What I have told my 4 and 3 yoa girls so far is that nobody is allowed to touch their girl parts except mom, dad and grandma. Still working on talking to them about the rest of it!

I read on another blog that the mom wrote the important info. name, number etc. on the bottom of the child's foot in permanent marker when they went to places like the zoo or Disney. I though that was a right smart idea. If not a little tickely

Every day I told Ass Burger Boy "Don't go out of the yard."
Every day except one.
Trust me, his Rain Man recall of numbers saved me from a car wreck, while I was driving around looking for him, hardly able to see with the tears streaming from my eyes.
The people who found him wandering took him in, and phoned my number where a neighbour was waiting for a call.

I'm 55 years old and I STILL remember the exact tune and words that my mom made up to teach me my phone number: Neptune one five four nine six, that's what Margalit's telephone number is. To the tune of twinkle twinkle. Um, yeah.

So keep singing it over and over and over. It will stick like glue in her mind eventually. Hopefully before she's 55. FWIW, I taught my kids the same way.

I loved Protecting the Gift and the Gift of Fear. Both Awesome books.

I just posted on learning phone numbers: http://stimeyland.blogspot.com/2007/12/just-2-thank-you.html

There's a link to a cool phone-number teaching phone in there.

We have the "find another mommy if you lose me" every time we enter the mall. HRH can recite it. The weird part was correcting him when he said "or another daddy."

Ps - I surfed over to Amazon mid-comment and ordered the John Walsh/Baby Einstein DVD. I've been meaning to.

This subject is near and dear to my heart. When my DH is gone at night I lay in bed thinking, "I am solely responsible for getting 2 kids out of the house in the event of a fire. And if we have a break in, I'm screwed."

I've been writing a post about introducing my kids to the cold, hard truth of the world and all the crazies in it (maybe I should finish it up and get it posted!).

This post and all the comments have been a huge help! And eye opening!

Phew, now I am even more scared than before I read all your comments! I have done this already, my first is now 16. BUT I can't remember how or when. Great.

We play "What would you do if" games when we're in the car. They've proven to be helpful.... and sometimes silly.
"What would you do if Mommy had broccoli in her teeth?"

"What if you're at a friend's house, and he wants to show you his dad's gun?"
Boy am I glad we practiced that one!

Does she know her numbers 1-10? Give her a pretend phone, and have her dial your phone number and you can pretend to talk. That's how my daughter learned our phone number. We also chant it together in the car.

In the mall & stores - the rule is "If I can't see you, you're not safe." That's all I have to say.

I thought we had been teaching her personal safety, but at her 5 year well-child check, her ped asked her a series of questions and she bowled me over when he asked "What if a person comes to you and seems really nice - and they ask you to help them find their lost puppy?" she said "Don't go!" Then the ped said "What if that person has ice cream and offers you some? Would you go?" She thought for a minute, and said "Umm.....yes!" AAAACK!


When she was 3 I started telling her at the zoo "if you even can't find mommy, find someone in a green shirt with a nametag and ask for help finding me."

At this age, you don't want to scare them too much, but you also want them to be aware that not everyone is their friend. A tough line to walk.

The poster who's telling their kid to "find a mommy" when they're lost is a genius. Guides for keeping your kid safe recommend that too. Imagine you're in the mall and you see a little lost child. You'll do almost anything to make sure the kid is safe and not scared and returned to the parent as soon as possible. And 95% of people would too. It's the rest we have to worry about.

For the most part, people want to help kids, and teaching kids to trust that "feeling" about someone is so valuable.

Overall, I think it's important for your kids to always know that they can come to you with questions. Even if it's something like, "Mom, what's an orgasm"? (maybe they heard it on TV or saw it on a Cosmo cover in the supermarket) And you don't freak out and make them feel like they've said something wrong. Then when their friend is doing pot or having sex they are more likely to let you know about it.

Or if you let them know that sometimes you get a little down in the dumps, they may tell you that they feel depressed too. You don't have to learn about it after a suicide attempt.

I use opportunities when they come up. If someone in a movie is doing drugs, I call the girls into the room so they can see what it looks like. Information is never a bad thing.

It's so great that there are so many wonderful parents on here who care so much for their children. Wouldn't it be great if every child got that same start in life? Sure we worry about things and may argue about which decision is better, but ultimately it means that we are good parents. It's those parents who couldn't care less that are so harmful.

My son is 21/2 and he knows the name of the city we live in as well as the state. Our first names and his full name.

My fear being that someone will take him and keep him and he wont know where we are or how to get back to us. I realize that this only happens in movies, but then that's what this about right, irrational fears

Bossy thinks she needs to set phone numbers to music... Bossy hasn't remembered a phone number since the invention of speed dial.

You and I have already discussed it extensively, but I've got to second the "don't scare the shit out of them" angle. Think of it as "give them self-preservation skills and knowledge" - where self-preservation includes not just phone numbers and who is allowed to touch them (and who THEY are allowed to touch), but also maintaining their personal and emotional integrity as well.

Need an example? Tacy and I talked just the other day about when it's okay to cry. Crying is fine when it's with people you trust, and you're sad or scared. Crying is better left undone in front of the whole kindergarten class or as an attempt to get your own way.

This shit is hard.

We taught our kids to chant the phone number. No lyrics to get confused and the beat seems to help keep them on track. And with 10 digit dialing in our area, they need all the help they can get.

Our ped has been awesome with the inappropriate touch convos. When he's checking them, he just casually says that no one is allowed to do what he's doing unless it's mom or dad or him. As they get older, he adds something like "or someone else mom says is ok."

Aack, I almost forgot: In regards to fire safety, the video "Elmo Visits the Firehouse" is fantastic at teaching kids BASIC fire safety skills without scaring them. Also, if you get hard-wired smoke detectors, make sure they have battery backup (the ones that came in my house DIDN'T) so that you aren't left unprotected if you lose power. We have hard-wired ones PLUS expensive battery ones.

Also, if you have gas service in your house, make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors on every level.

Obviously, this is something I feel strongly about - sorry to hijack your blog.

At that age, it is a bit young to know phone and address - they teach that in kindergarten around here. My 8 and 6 year olds know address, home phone, and my cell, and a few other numbers, too, but the 3 year old is still working on knowing her entire name, not just her first name.

Protecting the Gift is good, but another recommendation I would make is to get the Stranger Safety video produced by the baby einstein woman and John Walsh of America's Most Wanted. We've watched it a million times, I think; it's goofy, but it introduces the idea of how to stay safe. Sunny's 3, and she's seen it and can repeat some of the phrases, and now sometimes if she's getting too far away from me I can tell her she's outside the safety circle or too far away from her Safe Side Adult and she knows exactly what I mean and comes right back.

The whole safety thing is a continuum - you can't just have the conversation once. I think the important thing at this point is to maybe research what Q is developmentally ready for and see where she's going next, and investigate the tools you'll need to get you through each stage as you get there. It's one of the yuckier parts of being a parent that people don't really talk about much, but I believe in preparation as antidote for panic.

I'm responding to comments as well as the post!

My daughter just learned her phone number and address within the last year or so...so when she was 4 1/2. I won't teach my son until then either...because he'd just tell strangers and I don't need that.

Kids are more likely to be hurt/kidnapped by people they "know" than real strangers...and often strangers are the very people who could help them if they need help. Chances are most people would help your child rather than hurt him or her.

And for fire...most firefighters will suggest that you teach your younger child to stay in his/her room until someone comes to get them. They have a better chance of surviving if they are in their room with the door closed. Then the firefighters don't have to search the whole house to find your child.

I've decided that the best way to keep your child the safest is to instill confidence in themselves that they can handle things.

My barely 3-year-old knows her address but not our phone number. (Should it be our home number or my cell?) She also which parts are "private" and she knows that if she gets lost she should ask a mommy for help.

It's a start...

My daughter is 5 yrs old and doesn't know where she lives or her phone number. I simply put tags in all her clothes that say, Finders Keepers, Losers Party!

As for my son, I have no fear of him being taken. He, apparently, came with his own siren. If you get within 5 ft of him, he will turn it on.

Good Luck

I used a book called "My Body is Private" to read to my daughter. It covers the basics of which parts are private, what constitutes inappropriate touching and the concept of privacy. It looks as though it was published in the sixties but the content is pretty good. http://www.amazon.ca/My-Body-Private-Girard/dp/0807553190/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1197479611&sr=8-1

NO GUILT, Jessica!

I've got enough for both of us.

No, I don't have a list of what my kid knows.

But I do have a list of alcoholic drinks that are really yummy and will help you RELAX.

And that little book....um, another one I think needs to be added to the bonfire of parenting books. It's ridiculous how many parenting books are out there telling us what we should and shouldn't do.

No damn wonder we don't listen to our gut anymore....the noise from all of the "experts" drowns it out.

Well Crap! Something else I haven't been doing right. I really do need to teach my daughter our number and what to do if my husband or I was hurt. We have covered some basic stuff but lack alot.

Now I'm worrying and feeling guilty.
Thanks :)

I agree with the commenter who suggested that kids are in more danger from relatives and neighbours than they are from strangers. And mixed messages, like don't talk to strangers, but sit on Santa's lap?
What is that teaching a kid?

The telling it without scaring them part... yeah. I worry about that too.

Looking forward to whenever the hell it is that you come back. Totally want to do the recordings of posts now more than ever after having invited a blogger to come read one of her posts to a group. It was POWERFUL. Can't wait to tell you about it.



Can you play "mommy and baby chimp" and let him hold onto you? Maybe show him some videos of how mommy apes hold their babies while they climb around or take them somewhere safe?

Children have this funny way of understanding you strangely sometimes. Mine were scared of some things, but I always told them it was my job as their mother to keep them safe. I might need their assistance in a few areas, (such as tell me if someone touches you) but otherwise they feel bigger and stronger when they thought they were "helping".


Do you have smoke detectors hard-wired into your house? Our building codes required it, and they aren't the cheap little $1.50 things that require the flames to be 10-feet high before sounding the alarm.

That's probably the best protection. Also the security system is a good idea, and you get a discount on your homeowner's insurance (if you own).

That out-of-control feeling will paralyze you with fear, so you have to take action to keep it at bay. It's a sign of vulnerability, an acknowledgement that humans can be fragile, and that you're not always in control. And that there can sometimes be things (and people) beyond your control. It started with me the minute I found out I was pregnant.

I had the "fire" freak out too, when Baby Bear was born. We have a family bed, but our bedroom is on the second floor and I couldn't figure out how to get down the fire ladder with him in tow (our house burned down when I was five and fire safety/preparedness is an obsession of mine). I've had to rethink this is a few time as he's gotten bigger. At three and half he's almost co-ordinated enough to go down the ladder by himself.

We practice talking to strangers in public. And we roleplay what ifs (what if you got lost, who would you ask for help?) and we take turns to chosing people we'd ask for help. And sometimes we'll go and talk to the person we chose.

Bear doesn't know our phone number or our address and while he knows our last name it comes out pretty garbled when he says it. I saw a website that has temporary tattoos that they will print with your contact information. I thought that was a neat idea and if we ever go to disney I might get some of those with my cell phone on them.

I talked to my daughter about not keeping secrets from mommy. If someone tells her a nice fun secret that makes her excited and happy then it is a good secret but if some tells her a secret that hurts her, makes her feel bad, or hurts someone else she needs to tell me. She does understand as much as her 4 years can. Since it is Christmas shopping time I have given her lots of happy secrets. "Think of how happy you brother will be when he opens the cars you got him." and others like that.
She has come home from school recently to tell me that a friend told her something she didn't like about another friend. We talked it out and decided the best way to handle it.
As far as strangers...her solution, if anyone ever grabs me away from you I will yell and kick my legs, she tells me. I just pray that works, because I have no idea how to explain whole complicated world of strangers.

Fire. What does a one-year-old do if the house is on fire. My house burned down when I was fourteen. Every night when we go to bed I worry we won't be able to get to him in a fire. My husband has to repeat the "plan" to me some nights before I can sleep. I considered keeping him in our room for that very reason. I also check the doors a couple of times before I go to bed in case of kidnappers.

I second the recommendation on Gavin deBecker's books---Protecting the Gift is a must-read, IMO.

My mother tells me that I don't know 'fear in parenting' until I have lived through the 'teen out with the car' years. Great.

Get Protecting the Gift, Christy.

It's less about talking to strangers (or not) and more about kids trusting their gut, and being ready to be in certain situations.

Don't be so skeered of strangers. It's usually the people closer to her that are the biggest threat. Uncles, cousins, step-relatives, teachers, etc.

I'm officially skeered. My daughter just turned two and she has NEVER met a stranger. I have not one clue how to handle this.

Be sure to share when you figure it out!!

I loved Gavin deBecker's books because he is honest and smart without being a FEAR MONGER which is one of my hugest pet peeves.

My daughter's school just did "good touch, bad touch" and I attended because I wasn't sure I thought she was ready for the info (she's 5).

The gist of it was - everyone has private parts (any part of you covered by a bathing suit); no one can trick or force you into letting them touch your privates or you touch theirs; they made the distinction that parents can change babies diapers because they're not tricking or forcing the baby. I begged to differ (have they never changed a 1 year old's diaper?), but the distinction needed to be made that changing a diaper is not sexual abuse. They did make the kids repeat "sexual abuse" several times which I found puzzling and disturbing. The most important thing I felt they did was explaining that the "bad touch" might physically feel good but that they have a warning system in their tummies (like butterflies) that tells them when something might be wrong. They also had the kids practice saying "NO" to someone trying to trick or force them and that they should tell an adult. I'm not doing the best job explaining the program but you probably get the jist.

Overall I thought it was a bit much but I'm super reticent when it comes to that stuff. My son referred to my daughters crotch as a penis for a year before I could get the gumption to clearly and coherently correct him. Now I have to figure out how to have "the talk" with him (9). That's the book recommendation I need! GAH.

It does get harder intellectually when they get older but they're so much more logical. There is no reasoning with a teething sick colicky baby - that was the hardest for me. On the bad days I felt like I was the victim in an abusive relationship. I don't ever feel like that anymore!

But of course for younger ones, simply telling them that "there are bad people in the world who hurt children" and "mommy and daddy will keep you safe, but we still need you to tell us if someone tries to hurt you".

The parents who want their kids to live in some sugar-coated fairytale land are the ones with kids who are often molested and worse.

I'm assuming she knows the correct name for her girlie part, right? Just telling her that no one has the right to touch her except for mom or dad or the doctor (unless she goes to daycare) and then let her know that it's only ok for them to help her at the toilet.

Starting them young at realizing that "adults aren't always right" and adults make mistakes and can actually hurt them is a good way to let them externalize any hurt or pain they feel when things go wrong. Otherwise they grow up thinking, "mommy and daddy fight because I'm bad" or "Granny hit me because I was bad".

Excuse me, thanks for giving me a massive freak-out. Here I was, happy that The Poo knows her last name and the name of our small town. Now I have to do all this other stuff, too? Ack, let me know what you find out about how to do this well.

DON'T DO IT!!! I taught my son the phone number and he tells EVERYONE!!! Cashiers, Post office tellers, you name it, they know my phone number!!!

They teach kids their phone number and address in Kindergarten.

Maybe just teaching her how to dial 9-1-1 would be good, with strict instructions of when to use it. The cops can figure out where you live.

Mine are insanely sophisticated and have been from an early age. They ask a question--I answer it. Unless it's personal (Have YOU ever done that Mommy?).

My 9-year old knows the difference between gonorrhea and chlamydia.

My 13-year-old knows the definition of "rim job".

And all three know the meaning of the terms "blow job", "boner", and a few others.

And they think sex is gross. I keep telling them that they won't always think so, but they don't believe me. Of course it may be because I showed them a picture of a muff covered in genital warts to let them know what going without a condom could do.

Dude. Posts like this make me want to hurl myself out a window.

*fingers in ears*


PS. 'Protecting The Gift' is an awesome book. Read The Gift of Fear as well, for yourself.

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