Having stress-free “Tough Talks”…through a stuffed animal

There are some conversations we, as parents, need to have with our kids to keep them safe. What would you do if another child hurt you on the playground? What if a stranger asked you to get in his or her car? What do you do if you get lost in a public place? For super-sensitive kids like my older son, however, these conversations are unbearably hard. I tried broaching the subject of what to do if he loses me in a store when he was about three and a half, and he literally shut down. He was terrified even thinking about it, and he wanted no part of the conversation. I didn’t want to leave him afraid, because honestly, he likely won’t get separated from me anyway, but I wanted to be sure he would know what to do should it happen. Kind of by accident, we found the perfect solution. Enter “Pig”:

Part stuffed pig, part role model.
Part stuffed pig, part role model.

This is my older son’s beloved stuffed pig. Her name? Pig. My mother bought her for my son when he was a baby, and for whatever reason, she became a favorite stuffed animal. Call me crazy (and you may), but I make my kids’ stuffed animals talk. Regularly. The Pig used to tell my son made-up stories about her daily adventures at night as he was falling asleep. One day, after some failed talks about strangers and bullies and whatnot, I decided to try something new. The Pig told my son about how she was at the mall with her mom (of course, named “Pig’s Mommy”) when she suddenly realized she had no idea where her mommy was and she was lost in the mall! My son listened intently as she described what she did, modeling what I would tell my son to do in that situation. The next night, she said she “forgot” what she did when she lost her mom at the mall, and wanted him to remind her so she’d remember for next time. “Oh!” he said. “I remember! You walked up to the lady at the check out and said ‘I lost my mommy! Her name is Pig’s Mommy! Can I wait with you until we find her please?’ and you waited with the lady at the check out while a police officer found your mommy!” It worked like a charm!

Since then, the Pig’s life has often paralleled my son’s life, indirectly offering advice and modeling positive solutions along the way. There was the time her friend at school was telling her to do things she knew she wasn’t supposed to…the time she was scared her mommy was going away overnight…the time she saw someone being mean to a younger kid at the park. Each time, the Pig describes how she handled the situation and how it worked out. It’s indirect enough that I can get the important message across while avoiding a shut-down from my son where he would otherwise stop listening.

If you now think I’m completely insane, I can respect that. However, if you’re the parent of a super-sensitive kid like mine, you might want to give it a try. Taking the focus off the child and putting it on a stuffed animal has been a great way to get the necessary information about safety across without causing too much stress. As long as I don’t find myself here in 12 years making up stories about how the Pig is nervous but excited for her freshman year of college…I’m calling this a “win”. 🙂

10 thoughts on “Having stress-free “Tough Talks”…through a stuffed animal

  1. Sarah I love this. Thank you! Figuring out how much you should warn your children is so hard to begin with – my husband doesn’t want our kids to know that anything dangerous COULD happen to them anywhere near our house — but I feel like I have to tell them look, we keep the gate closed and you don’t talk to strangers in order to protect them. Thanks for the share! 🙂


    1. Yes! It’s a fine line. I don’t want them to be scared of the world, because I don’t really think it’s warranted. Chances are high that they won’t face the things I worry about. But I do want them (and me!) to feel like they’re prepared should something bad happen. Glad I’m not alone in this struggle– and thanks for the kind words! 🙂


  2. I think this is a great idea. And if it makes you feel any better, I make my daughter’s “friends” talk for no reason whatsoever. And I probably do it more often than normal. And now she does it too. Let’s be honest. She probably listens to her stuffed friends better than she listens to Mom!


Share Some Comment Love

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s