In a conversation with a coworker today, the topic turned to guiding our kids through some learning experiences while dealing with (negative) outside forces. We talked about hanging around kids who misbehave and even “stranger danger.” We warn our children about not going with strangers and try to push them to act right, but what truly guides them at the end of the day to keep them safe?

Her response was this, “don’t overlook the importance of pure gut instinct.”

We can try to teach our kids what we think is right, who they should/shouldn’t trust but maybe we need to make sure we reinforce their own intuition. At the end of the day, when we are not there to make a safety call or decision for our child, they have to rely on their own judgment and instinct (hopefully, used with some common sense and knowledge).

My coworker made a reference to the constant talk about “stranger danger” and kids not going with someone they don’t know. I think the reality is that many situations of abuse occur with an adult that the kid knows, that the kid may be manipulated by. A stranger is an obviously untrustworthy person, a closer adult may not be a stranger that mommy warned you about but if you have a “bad feeling”, then maybe you should trust that instinct.

I think we are all born with an instinct for self-protection. But it’s funny how maybe peer pressure or other factors may interfere with our ability to really trust that inner voice. Maybe we need to focus more on validating our children’s basic protective instincts and fostering those instincts as they grow and question.

Andrew came to me a few days ago and told me that one of the older boys in the neighborhood used “that super bad F word.” He seemed a little shocked. Now, as I sit and think about it, I feel like I could have jumped on that opportunity to talk to him about maybe if he felt a little uneasy or if he had a pit in his stomach about it because he knew it was wrong. Maybe I could have talked to him a little about that pit in his stomach and how sometimes, you need to listen to it.

Does anyone talk about that “feeling” or “gut reaction” with their child/children?

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