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How to Keep Kids Safe

By: Behaviorally Speaking

Mother explaining online safety to her daughter on laptop while sitting at desk

About this Podcast Episode

On this episode, Angela and Kristin discuss safety tips for parents. From online behavior and strangers to friends and peer pressure, they talk about collaborating with kids to reduce risks and keep kids and teens safe.

About the Hosts

Angela Nelson, Ed.D., BCBA, and Kristin Bandi, MA, BCBA, are Board Certified Behavior Analysts with expertise on human behavior and child development. They spend their days working with parents and caregivers of both typically developing children as well as children with learning, social, and behavioral challenges, or developmental disabilities. This podcast is brought to you by RethinkCare

If you need support as a parent or caregiver of a child, we encourage you to ask your Human Resources team if RethinkCare is a part of your employer-provided benefits. RethinkCare reaches millions of lives globally through partnerships with top organizations and Fortune 1,000 companies.


Welcome to episode 39 of Behaviorally Speaking, a podcast featuring board-certified behavior analysts Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi. On this episode, they talk about ways to keep kids safe online, with friends, and out in the community. And now, here are your hosts, Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi.

Angie: Hello and welcome to our 39th episode of Behaviorally Speaking. I’m one of your hosts Angela Nelson, board-certified Behavior Analyst and mother of two.

Kristin: And I’m Kristin Bandi also a board-certified Behavior Analyst and mother of three. Hey there Angie, how’s it going?

Angie: Hello!

Kristin: Hello!

Angie: We’re winding down, I mean at the time of recording this is like the last little bit of summer before my kids go back to school.

Kristin: Um, yes, well mine started today. So ah, it’s one of those I was thinking about it this morning too because of course like I was thinking when we started this. That’s it we say this all the time but when we started this I think my kids were like I don’t even know two and four or something I don’t know. And now my middle child is going into kindergarten, and it was just ah, you know I’m sure we have a lot of listeners like the kindergarten and you just like hold back the tears, hold back the tears, you know everybody talks about it. But it’s like it’s a real thing.

Angie: Yeah, oh yea I know.

Kristin: Oh, I just yeah, it was good though I mean everybody was it was so funny like everybody got jumped out of bed of course and was so excited and my daughter this school has uniforms which I love I’m like oh this is so great. So, she of course you know had to put the princess dresses aside to put her uniform on this morning. But she did really well and then I was talking to my husband about it because it’s such a contrast from when my oldest started kindergarten when he started two years ago he just we couldn’t even walk him in. It was just like Carline only and he just cried. It was like you know running for the car and crying and then ah and then she today was just like bye see you later and I was like oh my gosh, is this it? So polar opposite children. It was good though it was it was great. So yeah.

Angie: Yeah oh yeah nice awesome um well yeah I know my I’m gonna have my older one is finishing her or starting her last year of elementary school. Can’t believe in a year from now we’ll have a middle schooler so oh.

Kristin: Oh man, now can’t believe that either wow, oh man.

Angie: Yeah, well so let’s get into what we’re talking about today. I know we have some anecdotes actually about this topic before we dive in so today we’re going to be talking about keeping kids safe and um, this is ah this is a really important one especially as kids are going back to school I know you and I when we were kind of thinking about and doing some research on this topic we were thinking is it more dangerous these days for kids is it less you know, have the dangers changed are there more kidnappings now or fewer kidnappings now or like you know we did things differently when we were kids right? Um, you know, running through the woods without cell phones and stuff and what we found interestingly is several sources said it’s actually safer to be a kid now um I think they were including all sorts of different sources of danger though right? There’s lower childhood death rates now. But there’s lower crime rates. We’re wondering like is it that we’re just hearing about more things now because of the media and just how widespread and easy and quick. It is so um We thought? yeah so we thought why not do a topic on keeping kids safe in you know in this decade. Um, and yeah, it’s an important one.

Kristin: Um, yeah, yeah, this was so mind-blowing though I remember when we were prepping for this and I was thinking is it just because I’m a parent now like all of a sudden I see all the dangers in the world and maybe you know when you’re a kid like you had said when I was a kid too I used to just I remember during the summer I would just go run around like in the woods in Pennsylvania and just with my friend and we’d like pack a lunch and maybe gone for the whole day. Nobody was even looking for us like the whole day and again, no cell phones or anything and I’m thinking boy I don’t know that I that I would be okay with my kids doing that right now. So that’s kind of what sparked this interest in this topic but yeah I’m glad we’re talking about this.

Angie: Yeah I so right before we started filming this um my kids ironically, this is true story, my kids said mom what do you think about us riding our bikes down to the park by ourselves I’m thinking like wow the irony of this podcast.

Kristin: You know I know wow.

Angie: You know and you kind of go through that am I being a bad parent are they old enough am I being too strict because certainly I was doing that at that at their age. Um I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles you know, and we were in a pretty safe neighborhood, so we were definitely out on our bikes alone for hours with our friends. So um, they don’t have cell phones yet, but they have watches just plain old digital watches. So, I said bring your watch you need to be back by noon and look out for your sister stay together. Um, some of the things we’re going to talk about today that were new learnings for me actually integrated into you know, like if you see an adult you know that you don’t know this is what you do right?

Kristin: Um, oh I love that? yeah.

Angie: So, um, yeah, we’re going to give them a little a little bit of autonomy today and I told them this is your chance to earn some trust and see how it goes so yeah I’ll report back.

Kristin: Yeah, oh yes, yeah oh boy I can’t wait. Can we just stay on till noon your time? So, I can find out? Oh good, well good. Yes, share some of the your what you taught them along the way as we go through ours. Um, but yeah, so I guess what we’re you know, kind of what we’re talking about is although we learned right? Our findings were that well it’s a little bit more safe than it used to be. It’s still good for us to be informed parents and I think a lot of parents want to know what can I do to make sure that my child is safe and along with that. What can I do to make sure my child is safe online at school with friends so we kind of broke it out that way because when we think about safe. There’s various areas that we could be talking about.

Offline Safety

Know Who Your Child’s Friends Are

Kristin: So yeah, so let’s start with friends right? and ironically I Just not even kidding I Guess how to call with ah with a parent. Who lives in a different country actually but his kids well he lives in the Us, but his kids live in a different country, and he goes and visits them in the summer and just kind of checks and balances and makes sure everything’s going. Okay and a lot of what we’re talking to um, gonna list off is what he was doing this whole summer because his kids are teenagers and kind of gallivanting the town and they’ve got a lot of freedom and he’s just like how do I know that they’re okay so yeah, so a few things and I think probably the first thing that you can do as a parent to make sure your kids are okay with their friendships is know who your child’s hanging out with so that’s probably first and foremost and we talk about that a lot. Yeah, and I think there’s various ways you can do that right? I mean sometimes as kids get into a teenager age. They don’t they don’t really necessarily want to know or want you to know who they’re hanging out with. But I think Finding ways that you can be around where they are right? So, if they’re in sports. Okay, go to the sporting events see who they’re talking to if they’re if there’s a party right? and you’re dropping off right? Just peek in see who they’re talking to. So, I think there’s a variety of ways that you can figure it out but definitely knowing who children are friends with can be really helpful.

Angie: Yeah, yeah.

Start Talking Early About Peer Pressure

Kristin: And then another one is starting the conversations early right? So similar to what we just talked about having those conversations ahead of time about peer pressure and things like drugs and sex right? So, like when do we bring these things up. Well, the earlier the better right? So, making sure that that you’re kind of addressing those situations when they’re not already happening potentially um and I know we talked about letting the kind of the school sometimes lead the way in terms of like when we start these conversations. So maybe even looking at like the school curriculum and when are they talking about certain things and then you can kind of piggyback off of that.

Angie: Yeah, that’s a great idea. It’s a good way to kind of gauge you know. Are you kind of tracking generally speaking in terms of the developmental sequence. There are obviously differences across different states. But um, you know it’s good to use as a guide.

Kristin: Yeah, yeah, definitely.

Practice Roleplaying Peer Pressure Events

Kristin: Another thing and this one doesn’t always. We don’t always think about this one as parents but a lot of times we might talk at our kids right? like hey you know have you heard a peer pressure, or you can just say no right? Or you know and a lot of times we’re like check, check that box. But for some kids you kind of got to roleplay it and you got to practice and you got to make them feel more comfortable doing it because if you’re asking them to say no to a peer and they’re not so comfortable doing it. They might be less likely to do it. So definitely practice this say hey do you want to roleplay it a couple times and really helping them feel comfortable saying no what appear comes to them with something that they don’t necessarily want to agree to.

Angie: Yeah I love that one? Um, because yeah I mean you can say it. But then how does it generalize to all the different possibilities you know and if you can roleplay a couple different scenarios um, that might come up it really helps them to think critically and think a little bit deeper in terms of oh this is actually the way you say it. It is making me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Oh, am I going to feel strong enough to actually say no ah you know so having that practice those practice opportunities can really help them take it to the next level.

Kristin: Yeah, yeah, and kind of a side a side convo to this would be I actually had ah a parent who had said to me that they the daughter has like ah, whatever school she goes to. They’re allowed to have phones right? But they’re not allowed to be. They signed an agreement that they’re not allowed to be in group text messaging um for bullying reasons and stuff like that. So it’s kind of like a schoolwide thing and yeah, which I thought was really great I was like wow I’ve never even heard of this but how cool and it’s a middle school So They’re like listen, we’re going to stand against bullying or stand up against bullying right? and nobody could be in group chats and we’re going to all sign this similar to like assigning tech, no texting and driving right? So, like signing something like that. Well apparently ah, all these other girls ah has started in this group chat. And the little girl the parent that I was talking with. She didn’t want to be in it but the problem with her not being in it was that she was actually missing out on some things so in the group chat a very innocent group chat they were like let’s all wear headbands tomorrow you know and then the daughter comes to school and she’s the only one not in a headband and it was so of course parent comes to me and they’re like what do I do right? and so what we decided yeah very difficult situation because there’s no right to this right? So, it’s like well we could stand by it and say no, we’re not, we’re not doing this. We’re not joining this group chat because you signed this, or you know in a and right? So, you’ve got two situations here. So, what we decided actually was to go to the girl and say listen what’s your what are your values. You know what are your top values here if social interaction and making sure that you’re not an outcast to these girls in school is a higher value right now than potentially. You know, maybe the consequence of getting caught right? or honesty. Um, you know which one are you going to rate higher and you know which one’s more important to you right now and I think that helped her kind of understand like what was gonna be most important and I think they actually ended up where the daughter was like I’m going to join it just for this week because it’s like it was like spirit week or something and then I’m going to get off of the chat and that’s what she did and then it turns out that ah a teacher found out and the chat got shut down a couple weeks later anyway, but anyway that was kind of like ah you know, kind of a side story to this but I feel like that’s where that peer pressure comes in you know where you’re like sometimes you get stuck in those situations and then even as the parent the parent was like I don’t know which way to direct her here because I don’t want her to be a social outcast but I also want her to follow the rules. So, what do I do So it was just a tricky one.

Angie: Yeah, that’s interesting that the school would put something like that in place because the I mean bullying is so rampant I mean it’s like one of our recent podcast topics right? But um at the same time it’s kind of like you’re making an assumption that all group chats are bad.

Kristin: Right?

Angie: You know like it It’s more efficient when you have a couple people that’s like hey 10 o’clock is when we’re going to the beach everybody you know so that’s tricky. Yeah I like the approach you took though of like going with value-based decisions decision making. So yeah.

Kristin: Yeah I figured that would set her up for the long run too. You know when she’s older and she’s ah I don’t think this don’t think she’s a teen yet. But when she becomes a teen. She’s in high school to help her make those decisions.

Keep Your Kids Busy in After School Activities

Kristin: So yeah and then a couple other things we can do just to help our kids in these you know navigate these tricky situations encourage and To get involved in activities that are structured and they’re around other coaches and teachers and so I there’s probably a saying for this but I don’t remember it but isn’t it something like you know like when you’re kind of like when you’re bored is when you get into trouble but I feel like there’s like a say.

Angie: Oh, my mom used to say an idle mind is a devil’s workshop, that remember that from the from the 80s?

Kristin: And that’s the one I was thinking of exactly yes those 80s exactly yes, so my mom probably said that to me many times. So yeah, so keep them busy right? So, wherever you can keep your kids busy. Keep them involved after school stuff. You know do what you can, um.

Angie: Yeah, the 80s and 90s yeah.

Establish Yourself as a Trusted and Safe Adult to Talk to

Kristin: And that can really help and then another one is establishing yourself as a trusted and safe adult to talk to. So, I think we talked about something similar on another podcast, but this one can be really tricky to do and particularly with those teenagers right? like or even middle school. You know I don’t want to talk to you about these things right? I Just don’t want to, but I think in order to establish yourself as a trusted adult is to you know, come at come at things with an open mind right? So, we’re not just going to automatically say oh wow that person said that ooh don’t be friends with them anymore right? Or don’t hang out with that person because they do not make good choices So being careful about those saying those things and if that’s your only solution right? Well don’t hang out with those friends. We’ll got to be careful about that because then your child is less likely to come to you and say so-and-s so brought this to school right? Or whatever it might be um because then they’re going. You’re only going to say well don’t hang out with them anymore right? Yeah.

Angie: Yeah, you’re just going to shut it down. Yeah, that’s a really good point I think it kind of goes back to the value-based decision making that you made earlier. It’s kind of like come together and be open to solutions with them brainstorm together like well what is important to you. You know Is your health how high would you rank your health when your friends are going behind the convenience store and smoking you know smoking. Um, you know yeah it. So what? What? What do you think we should do about that I can help you come up with a plan. So yeah, it’s about collaboration when you get to be teenagers. Yeah.

Kristin: Um, totally yeah, and I could even see that going as far as like a parent saying like okay well it sounds like you can hang out with your friends in this situation and there’s no like peer pressure right? But in this situation at you know four o’clock it seems that these friends are peer pressuring you let’s find a way where you can hang out with them during the non- peer pressure times and then potentially not hang out with them during those peer pressure times right So it is about having that open communication I think it can really help with kids.

Thoughtful Punishments

Kristin: Yeah, and then I think so ah, along with that right being thoughtful about punishing right? So, if your child did come to you or even if you found out that they did something right that we’re not, you’re not so happy about as a parent be just be careful about punishing right? So yes, there can be consequences. But if we go really hard on that punishment then kids might be more likely to find ways to hide it or to be like oh ah I’m gonna be better at hiding it next time right? So, we do have to be careful about that. Yes, exactly yes, totally.

Angie: Yep, that reminds me of the podcast online when Kelly was talking about you can we can ah accidentally create really good liars. You know we’re not careful with our punishment. Yeah, these are really good ones I think

Online Safety

Know About the Video Games They Are Playing

Angie: Yeah, the segues really nicely from that friend peer pressure into online behavior and you know how we can keep kids safe in these sort of arenas so in doing our research the first one that really stood out to us is probably to no surprise A lot of parents be aware of what your kids are doing online right? So, it might be even sitting with them to see the games. We talk a lot about. Can you play the games with your kids may not be your cup of tea, but you can understand especially if it’s a new game. You can understand what it is Are there chats are there opportunities where your kids are interacting. You know with people they don’t know or is it just kind of like the old school Nintendo sort of things is it ah is it really just hand-eye coordination and kind of you know self-contained. What is it right? So be aware of your kids are doing Online What’s going on there who they’re interacting with.

Set Guidelines

Angie: The next one is set guidelines setline guide guidelines for being online. Are there certain apps that are not age appropriate. Um in terms of maybe deadlines or ah, time-based guidelines and do it with your kids if they’re teenagers right? that kind of goes back to what we were talking about earlier if you just have a hard fast rule on something that can probably backfire on you So having an open discussion and dialogue about online behavior and what’s Safe and you know you’ll get your their buy-in more when it’s ah, a discussion rather than kind of a demand.

Kristin: And you know I would add to that one too I think, and we said it before, but we might have some parents listening now who are her kids are like 16 and you’re like oh no, right? But if you can the earlier you can start with creating these systems and contingencies and boundaries. Really, you know the better because then that’s what they get used to we ah, we had a we had a team meeting the other day Angie.

Angie: Um, yeah I think I know what you’re going to say yeah.

Kristin: And someone actually yes I, but you do someone actually said something really cool and I’m going to I’m going to steal this Um, but be careful about labeling your child’s device as theirs right? It was that the one you were going to say?

Angie: I was going to say a different one actually about the time thing. So yeah, okay.

Kristin: Oh, okay well I’ll say this one then first. So, being careful Labeling their devices theirs right? So your phone your tablet your iPad because then when you as the parent go to set boundaries they’re like well wait a second that’s mine just like my toys remember my toys that were always mine what this is the same and what we want to say is no, no, no like I pay for that or I’ve purchased that or that’s actually ours It’s the whole house. Yes, and then that way you can set those boundaries there.

Angie: Yeah, that was I think a really powerful just slight tweak in the way that we’re using our language. So yeah, really good one.

Parental Controls and Age Filters

Angie: so, moving along um, knowing about parental controls and age filter filters. So, it can be a little bit overwhelming I remember we kind of dove into this topic with our kids because they wanted to kind of ease into the Minecraft and some of the other games. Um, and it feels overwhelming but it is a task that is worth ah taking on um and to your point Kristin doing it early Understanding as much as you can I mean technology evolves so much faster than we could ever catch up but just try to your best to stay on top of it know the basics right? know what the parental controls are get a ah hunch of you know, generally what sort of apps or games your kids are playing and then definitely look into see what sort of age filters are keep in mind too. There are rules in terms of I think it’s age 13 when you’re allowed to have a social media account. Um, so if you’ve got a 10-year-old that’s got a social media account I think technically that is not allowed so there are some you know general rules that you need to You know, know and educate yourself on.

Kristin: Plus, I feel like that’s a really good. Ah good opportunity to be like that’s the rule right? This is legally you know it’s 13 sorry it’s not me. It’s the rule because I think a lot of parents get themselves into that sticky situation where their kids are saying but everyone else Doing it right? and then you as the parent are like ah I know but I don’t want you to right? and then you kind of get into that that battle. So yeah, yeah, exactly.

Angie: Right? Yeah, yeah, blame it on the rule. It’s not yeah um, using apps to we’ve talked about the app Bark B-A-R-K It doesn’t have anything to do with us or our company. But um, this is just one that we keep hearing about which notifies parents if bullying is going on in text or some sort of text right? Like if it picks I don’t know how it works like AI or something. It’s pretty neat. It can kind of pick up a certain type of language or um, like I don’t know attitude.

Kristin: Yeah I think I can also pick up I don’t know I feel like I’ve had a couple other parents tell me like it also picks up other things right? like is there sexting going on. For example, right? or other things that you wouldn’t want your child doing um, certain internet sites might be visited or so that I think it can actually um, do even a little bit more which is which is pretty great. Oh yeah, there’s others.

Angie: Yeah, yeah, so that or otherwise I think the main takeaway for this one and just see what’s out there in terms of apps that can help you be more aware of your child’s online kind of digital footprint as they say

Teach Children to Recognize Signs of Bullying

Angie: So, um, also teaching your kids to recognize signs of bullying and harassment it kind of tips into our you know recent podcast on bullying but definitely understanding. What are some signs of harassment online or signs of coercion or you know being taken advantage of trying to think of all the words right? Like exploitation online so be really, you know be open with your child, especially if they are getting older and diving out more into the online world where they’re interacting with others that they don’t know. It’s really important to identify and that’s you know that kind of goes back to a couple of other points too where if you have that parenting approach where just like nope, nope, boundaries, nope. This is because I said so that’s not so much giving them the rationale and the learning opportunity. But if you can have a conversation about look harassment coercion these sort of things they do happen online. This is what it looks like this is what to be looking out for. You know there’s a lot of great things about technology right? So, it’s um, you know, just teaching our kids and empowering them to be smart and informed consumers of technology. You know can be really, um, a safe you know direction to go? Yeah, um.

Kristin: Yep, yeah, definitely.

People Aren’t Always as They Seem Online

Angie: Let’s see teaching so a couple last things that we pointed out teaching them that people are not always who they seem online. This is one you know stories we hear about this stuff all the time it can be you know; pretty ah elaborates things that can happen.

Kristin: Um, yeah, yeah, oh I have a good I actually have two really good stories on this line I’ll start with one. Um, so I have a family recently that I was talking to and their son is 10 and he recently started getting on you know all the games and all this stuff and you know a lot of the games have chat features and all this stuff so he was talking to someone online and he thought that he was talking to a little of an older girl right? So, I think the moment told me that he thought he was talking to like a 13 or a 14-year-old girl and she was sending him all these cute pictures and all this stuff right? And so, the girl had convinced him to send a picture of an area of his body that should not be sent to pick picture should not be sent of. Um, and unfortunately she convinced him to do that. But then the moment that he sent the picture the person who he was talking to automatically went into the scam and this was an online scam and the person said Now I have your picture of this right? I’m going to share this with your parents I’m going to share this with everyone I’m going to post it everywhere unless you give me a hundred dollars and the boy of course eventually told his mom because first of all, he’s not going to come up with $100 right um But this this little guy actually had um I guess I think it was something similar to like the green light card or some sort of card of source some sort of income right? because he’s 10 so he might have had some birthday money and stuff. So, I think the mom even said like he tried to figure out a way that he could pay this person right? And then anyway, so long story shorty ends up. Yeah, he ends up going and telling the mom and the mom was like oh my goodness do not worry about this like first of all, let’s start here talking about safe behavior online who we should talk to and all that and then I you know will make this right? Let me talk to you about online scams right? So that was that I feel like is I mean I don’t want to say common right? but it can happen so easy, and kids can get roped into those things and just not even really know about it.

Angie: Well, I think you know one thing that’s important I just want to point out is these things are always evolving and these scammers are you know, getting really smart and creative. So, you can’t just have a one and done conversation with kids like here is the family iPad Here. Let me kind of go down the rules and regulations okay have at it. It’s really important to have ongoing supervision oversight ongoing conversations about how things are evolving just you know I’m sure this parent had good intentions and so many families go through these things they have these conversations, and these things still happen, and you can’t completely avoid it. But if you’re having conversations like this um often and openly you can definitely kind of mitigate some risks.

Kristin: Absolutely and this parent in particular I mean she was she was on top of most things technology based right like I mean this would be a parent that would say I really thought I covered this right like this one came out of the blue and so I think that that just proves that like you’re right scammers are getting better. Um, yeah another story I know I’ve got a couple, but I have another one that I feel like is one that is a little bit more scary I think as a parent. Um, so oh yeah and I had another parent tell me now this was not the parent I was working with but this was a family friend and they their little guy I want to say he was around ten or eleven which is based on the story I feel like he had to be older but I feel like she told me he was like ten or eleven so apparently he again had met someone online and maybe through a gaming app of some kind and turns out that this kid actually stole his parents car In the middle of the night and yes and drove the car and it was only three it was three hours away right? So, the kid like at some point was got tired or the mom said he like stopped for forgot not gas I don’t think he like got gas, but he stopped um and apparently when he got out of the car. Like a police officer happened to be there at this gas station and stopped him almost like hey what’s going on you know and then obviously and got his name and informed his parents brought him home and all this stuff. Um, so it’s just amazing to think like this this kid who you know the more I tell that story I’m like so how could he drive at that age, but maybe he has like a go cart or no like ah a golf cart or ah, what is the four-wheeler right? I don’t know but that one just kind of blows my mind because I feel like it yeah I mean it obviously it happened I wonder how many you know when stories get told the um details changed slightly so you know I don’t know about that. But either way I think this is a something to be aware of and a quite scary story right?

Angie: Yeah I mean what are the odds there. What’s the ratio of a police officer to the public you know so like it was probably pretty rare that police officer just happened to be there. But yeah I mean I think the takeaway is like we can never really guarantee that our kids are going to be perfect angels all the time even you know with our best efforts. So we have to constantly be you know on alert and observant and continue to have those conversations you know again and again.

Kristin: Yeah I love your idea sorry one more I love your idea of checking in though because we talk a lot about this with parents and saying like checking in on your kids like with schoolwork and social. You know, just social stuff like what’s going on right but I also feel like if your kids are doing stuff online on the computer and all that like even checking in there and saying hey anything weird happened on the internet this way anything you want to let me know just in case I can help you troubleshoot you know things like that I feel like that’s that can be really helpful.

Angie: Yeah, yeah I mean they may be the kind of kid where they’re not going to go of their own volition. Yeah, come to you and be like Mom guess what happened you know? So you might have to.

Kristin: Tell you right? This pretty girl’s talking to me and sending me pictures, yeah.

Angie: Yeah, might need to be a little inquisitive.

Continue to Reiterate Safety Again and Again

Angie: So yeah I think you know the last one too before we wrap up and move into another section. You can’t guarantee things that will stay private online people take screenshots people you know the stories you gave were perfect examples. People will share things, it’s lightning fast so that’s just another reminder that you have to continue to reiterate not just once but again and again and again. It cuts across so many different topics right? Bullying you know, texting inappropriate pictures on and on and on so you have to, and you know we’ve done topics on this too, when we win our when we were in our executive functioning kind of series. But the impulse control and the response inhibition. It’s not fully formed until the kids are you know in their young twenty s right? So, they still are kind of developing the ability to make good choices honestly and so again, we have to be there to kind of coach them and again and again, um to you know to make sure they remember to make those good choices about what they’re posting online.

Safety for Younger Children

Kristin: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Okay, yeah, so moving into the next one is we’re just going to talk a little bit about some ways, and this is probably more applicable to our little ones and probably what you might have done today with your kids. Um, so this is kind of talking about you know the good old stanchioned remember when we were little you know it was like stranger danger right? like all strangers are bad and there’s been a bit of a shift in in that language that we’re teaching our kids and so we don’t we’re I guess the research now is saying well we don’t really want to teach them that all adults are bad. We just want to give some guidelines surrounding that we need to train them what does this mean right? Like how do we respond and then when we can if we can we need to test our kids’ knowledge right? So, we need to make sure oh are they going to react appropriately in this situation. Yeah, so a few so there’s a and now I’m going to forget what it was on, but I just sent it to you after I found it. But either way there was like a yeah, it was like a news special that was talking about it. It was ah it was actually a little alarming. They tested a bunch of three-year-olds I think, and they put a they had a guy drive over. They had the parents watching from like a room right? and they had the kids playing outside like 3- and 4-year-olds playing outside and then this guy drove up and he had all these treats in the back of his car, and they of course were recording. It was for this news broadcast and a lot of the kids ran right to him. You know like me, me, me I want treats right? And these parents were like oh wow like we’ve had this conversation we have told them do not talk to strangers. Don’t go to strangers and it was alarming what they found so during that little segment there were five tips that they gave us and so I’ll just go through those, and these can be helpful for your little ones.

1. Before Taking Anything From Someone You Don’t Know; Check With Mom, Dad, Parent, Caregiver

Kristin: One would be teach your kids to check with mom or dad or a parent or a caregiver before they’re taking anything from someone. They don’t know right? So, if the rule is you have to ask before you take that. Well then hopefully they’re not going to run up to this random person who’s offering them candy right? So always have to ask and then the second.

2. Take Three Big Steps Back

Kristin: One which I really liked was teaching kids to take three steps back. So anytime if someone comes to you. You don’t know take three big steps back and if it’s a dangerous person. They might come forward right? So, they’re going to like come at you but someone else might just kind of stand there and not come toward you and then it elaborates on and if you take three steps back and they come forward then that’s your cue to run right? So run away. Um, oh okay, is that the one I love it.

Angie: I did that today with my kids I was like okay at the park. Yeah, that’s one of the one of the couple things that I told them yeah like yeah.

Kristin: Oh cool, Good yeah.

3. It’s Ok to Say No to Grownups

Kristin: And then the other one is teaching kids that they can say no to grownups right? So, we always say like you have to follow the what grownups say right? but I think sometimes it’s okay to be like no sometimes you can say no if this grownup is saying they come with me your mommy’s really hurt right? No, you can say no. Then the fourth one is never give up-

Angie: Yeah, oh I was going to-

Kristin: Oh go ahead, go ahead.

Angie: I was going to mention that um, that’s a shift right? That’s kind of like a more of a modern shift because back when I think when we were kids it was you know you need to be obedient, and you need to follow what adults say um I think things were a lot more just cut and dry back then right? Stranger danger, strangers are bad. You know you cannot say right? and now we’re getting into this phase of self-advocacy and kids do need to kind of understand that they can say no to protect themselves and you know and yeah, it’s kind of empowering them and in a way so that they don’t feel conflicted like oh I know I’m supposed to always follow adults but right so just wanted to point that out.

Kristin: Um, right? Yeah, it’s a good call out.

4. Never Give Out Personal Information

Kristin: So the fourth one never give out and this is actually one I just recently talked to my kids about. So never give out personal information to people that they don’t know is that the other one you told them today. Oh okay, yeah, so never give personal information and then um

5. No Adult Should Ask Children for Help in General

Kristin: And then number five so generally speaking no adult should ask for a kid for help or to keep a secret So super important to teach your kids that.

Angie: Yeah, yeah, that’s the other one I told them because this particular park that the kids are at right now. Um, they a lot of people take their pets and I could just easily you know there’s so many so many scenarios right? But something that seems so innocent like oh I can’t find my dog can you guys help me I just feel like my kids would be like yeah sure we’ll help you find your dog totally and you know and I just have this I don’t want my kids to be afraid of people because you know statistics show most people are not kidnappers, vast majority of people are not kidnappers are going to you know, do something terrible to you. But um, you just never know and so it’s better to have an understanding and general guidelines, but it is true if you think about it logistically right? Adults are not going to go to little kids and ask for their help or certainly not ask them to keep a secret because that is a whole other can of worms I think is even more dangerous. Um, you know so I think it’s a good guideline for them to be like oh you know I’m sorry I can’t help you know.

Kristin: Right? Yeah, exactly no I think it’s that’s great and I think where you like you said to think of where those examples of course you’ll never be able to think of all of them. But that’s ah that is one that I could imagine someone doing right? I can’t find my dog and you know so yeah.

Angie: Yeah, definitely right? Yeah well and I think we use that example of you know the candy don’t take candy from strangers. It’s like okay, but there are unlimited other examples, and you know it’s yeah, it’s a little scary.

Kristin: Good example, right? right? Ah huh right? Yeah I think ah yeah, the kidnappers have evolved past candy these days. So yea.

Angie: Yeah, they’ve smartened up.

General Tips

Teach Your Kids Your Phone Number or Another Trusted Adult

Angie: Yeah, yeah, well so as we’re kind of wrapping up. Ah, we just had a couple of general tips too that we wanted to share one is teacher kids your phone up are you or you know another parent another trusted um, adult in their life. Make sure that they know ah how to reach you if they’re you know, not with you. Um, just kind of to tether them. You know back to you and if you’re out in public arranging a meeting point I think a lot of parents have had that scary moment I know, um we were at Disneyland a couple months ago um we lost our 10 year old temporarily because she just was like on a mission to try and find Disneyland hoodie and she saw one and she just went to it and it was packed and we lost her for the wow and that was really scary.

Teach Children Which Adults Are Trustable: Police Officers, Store Workers, Adults With Children, Etc.

Angie: Um, and then tell your kids to look for well again, what are the chances that a police officer is going to be right there so you know they are trusted people but they are probably not as abundant as you know, maybe a store worker or a store clerk or a parent with kids right? So, if you don’t know These are more likely to be people that are going to be able to help you? um no offense to someone That’s not a parent but you know somebody that’s with children. Um you know or a store worker somebody that has a badge. They’re working there. There are good people to approach if you get lost.

Kristin: Right? Yeah, yeah, exactly that’s a good one I actually that’s the one I use with my kids too because we go to so many different places and they could easily okay so I should preface this with my middle child. She tends to just wander off as hard as I mean I try to keep her with me, but she is my child and I got lost so much as a kid because I just. Got excited I would wander off just but go away so we’ve already she’s already wandered off a couple times. Um, and so I’ve had to have this conversation with her already and say listen if you lose mommy here is who you could go to and then I also say to them all the time you know this is helpful for the little ones right? but I say If I can’t if you can’t see me I can’t see you so that means that you’re out, you’re too far out of the zone. So, I’ll use this one’s quite a bit.

Angie: Um, yeah, did she ever hide in the clothing racks at the stores. Oh, my kids have done that. Ah.

Kristin: No not yet, not yet, but let me tell you what? what she did which is crazy. So um, one of the three times so far we’ve lost her um, she’s only five so we were at she had like a little gymnastic show for her class. It was really cute, and it was wrapping up. Everyone was done and I was only had two with me so the baby wasn’t with me but I had Parker and then Kiki and I was like we got to go, we got to go, you know? and so she’s like kind of getting her shoes and all this stuff and I was so I left like the main gymnastics room, but I didn’t walk outside and there was a whole bunch of people like in the foyer of the entrance so she just apparently just decided to bolt outside thinking oh Mommy and Parker went outside so she’s outside by herself And I’m like frantically there’s probably like 75 people in this building and I’m frantically looking where did she go where did she go I can’t find her where’d she go and I’m like Parker. Do you see her where did she go and then I’m just like I looked everywhere the bathroom like I’m looking everywhere and then. I know and so then I’m going like now I’m finally toward the door and ah and a woman comes in holding her hand and she’s like hysterically crying and she’s in this mom that think she was ah another mom but she came in she goes she was just outside standing by your car and she was just crying and I was like oh my gosh and I was like I went and so I had to tell her like I will never leave a building without you like it won’t happen and she like ran out in a parking lot I mean it was yeah so it was It was very scary but that was my most scary ah mom moment of losing her.

Angie: Yeah I think it’s kind of you know it’s the scary you try your best but

Kristin: Right, but this is just innocent. You know she’s just like okay I’m gonna go to the car right and she wasn’t thinking that I wasn’t already up the car and she didn’t have the wherewithal to be like Mom’s not here I’m gonna turn me don’t go back inside like she had she just turned five so the time she was only four so she had she didn’t know you know.

Angie: Yeah, yeah I think mainly what we’re talking about really is just how can we reduce the risk wherever we can. But I mean that’s a good example, you know we’ve lost our kids a couple times too. It’s like hey where you know I we’re pretty, you know pretty decent parents you and I but ah, you know these things are just going to happen every once in a while and so if we can do things to reduce the risk that’s you know that sets us up you know, much better for success.

Be Aware and Make Your Teenagers Aware They Are Most at Risk for Victims of Crimes

Angie: So um, the very last thing that we want to talk about. We just want to make a note about teens. We found this to be really interesting. There was a site that we found, and it said more teens are committed, excuse me, more crimes are committed against teenagers than any other age group. So if you think about that if you have teenagers this is kind of that time where they’re more at risk of being recipients of crimes and so it is really important to talk with your kids about this so things like stick to busy or maybe well-lit roads if you’re out and about across the road if you know something doesn’t feel right or go into a crowd if you think that you’re being followed right? So, if you cross a couple times you go a couple different ways and maybe a same person is still following you and making eye contact with you something like that. Um, you just want to keep yourself safe. So, it’s always good to strengthen numbers. Um, and stay alert. This is something I see all the time teenagers, um, and not just teenagers you too. You know adult but they’re very engrossed in what they’re doing. They’re looking down. They’re getting sucked into their device and they are not paying attention to their surroundings. So, there is a time and a place to enjoy fun videos on your phone but when you’re trying to walk across the street or it’s dark and you’re alone that is not the time to be to be You know, tinkering around on your device. So, these are a lot of common you know, kind of common-sense stuff but again having these conversations openly and often could really um. Save your kids from you know some potential harm or risk.

Kristin: Yeah, yeah, yeah, oh that last one is such a good one because and I love the way you said it right? like there’s a time and a place for that. But if you’re crossing the street or you’re you know coming home from your job right? and you have to be riding your bike or something like. It’s not the time to be staring at your phone. So yeah, so important.

Angie: Yeah, you know what? it’s That’s so interesting last weekend. Um, my husband took the kids on a camping trip which was really fine. You know and I had other things going on so I wasn’t able to go and so I was working on um my dissertation actually is working and working and working all day and it was like I’m going to treat myself I’m going to go see the Barbie movie by myself and I was so excited to do that and then it was even it was nighttime when it got out and I was walking through a parking garage and I was by myself and I’m thinking okay this is very rarer that I’m in a situation like this but had my key and I kind of put my key in my hand in a certain way I’m being very observant I wanted to look at my phone because I wanted to Facetime the kids and stuff but I waited until I got home I knew that that probably wasn’t a good idea and looking around my car because I parked like to park far away. So, nobody you know opens their door and hits my cars. So of course, I’m like ah this is the time where it’s that’s not ideal. So, it’s like a parking garage and my car’s away at the end and so I’m alone so it was a little bit scary. But um, you know I was very alert I was walking very quickly had my phone in my purse and kind of kept my key and got in and locked the door right away.

Kristin: Yep, yes, yeah, it’s funny I do the lock the door trick every time I’m by myself anywhere I do the lock trick right away like I just it’s kind of a habit for me now. But so just you know it’s just so one of those things you got to be aware of your surroundings But yeah I mean I do the same thing when I’m with my kids I mean of course you hear all these stories and that’s why we kind of started the episode with like is it scarier now because I hear all these stories of like someone trying to like take your kid out of this shopping cart and when you’re loading up your groceries. You know so like so now I Just follow all these things I’m like okay I put my kids in first I turn on the car I lock them in I put them the groceries you know so I feel like I’m probably on the other side where I’m like maybe too cautious but you know I think it’s good to have a happy balance and be cautious. Yeah, all right? Well thanks everyone for joining us on our 39th episode of Behaviorally Speaking on our next episode we will be discussing work life balance and parental self-care so until then don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on your favorite platform, so you never miss an episode.

You’ve been listening to Behaviorally Speaking, with Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi, brought to you by RethinkCare. Find out more at You can find past podcast episodes under the Resources tab. We also invite you to subscribe, follow, like, and leave us feedback wherever you listen to podcasts. Your feedback helps us prepare topics and content for future episodes. Until next time, have a great day.

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