tricky people

Why You Need To Teach Kids About Tricky People {Not Stranger Danger}

Have you ever heard of tricky people before? If so, do you know how to identify them?

Ever since you can remember you’ve been told about stranger danger. You were told as a child that you should never talk to strangers, talk to only people you know.

This technique can be very confusing and not at all effective for kids. Not all strangers are bad, but in kid’s eyes using this safety strategy, they all are bad.

Kids take everything very literally, so they will think that a teacher, doctor, police officer are all bad people because they are strangers, in reality these people are ones they should be able to trust when they are hurt or need help.

So, instead of teaching your child about strange danger, teach them about tricky people.

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tricky people

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What exactly is a tricky person?

A tricky person is someone that they may or may not know, but is always someone that tries to break a family safety rule.

One day I was talking to a friend about how hard it is not to be a helicopter mom because I’m always worrying about them. Their safety is my #1 priority, something that is always on my mind.

But when we were talking she had mentioned ‘tricky people’. It’s where instead of teaching your child about stranger danger, teach them about tricky people. These people are people that look nice, someone they may or may not know, but are tricking your kid into doing something they shouldn’t do.

For instance, an adult asking a child to help them find their dog is a big red flag. Any grown adult does not need a kid’s help with anything like that. There are times where they can help, but I’ll talk about that later.

This strategy was created by Pattie Fitzgerald. She is the founder and creator or Safely Ever After and an author for children safety books. Pattie is an amazing safety advocate for children and is great at teaching parents how to teach their kids about safety in a non-fearful way that is extremely effective.

Pattie talks about how it could be more harmful to teach stranger danger because one day they might need to talk to a stranger. She teaches that any safe adult does not need help from a child. They will go ask another adult for help if they need it.

She educates parents on how to effectively talk to their children about a situation that has happened to them; and how to ask the right questions for them to feel like they can trust us. Some kids may feel ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, or think they might get in trouble for someone harming them or assaulting them. 

It is our responsibility to let our children know that they can trust us and come to us about anything. 


When I researched more about this technique I came across this story about how this strategy had saved this woman’s 2 boys’ lives. Her boys were waiting for her outside a hospital and two guys approached them, but they knew exactly what to do. Could you imagine coming out of a hospital and you couldn’t find your kids

After reading this, it was an eye opener on how effective this really is. I thought if I had never heard of it before, then I’m sure there are more parents out there that haven’t heard of it before either.

Red Flags For Identifying A Tricky Person

How parents can identify a tricky person

In order for you to be able to teach your child about tricky people, you as a parent need to know how to identify them too.

Studies have shown that 90% of sexual assaults that happen to kids happen by someone they know rather than a stranger. I don’t say this to scare you, or think you can’t trust anyone, but to help you be more aware of the people around your child.

Parents have to pay attention to who is paying attention to their child. It’s important to teach kids these things but it is ultimately our responsibility to be the one paying close attention. 

If someone is showing extra interest to your child more than other kids, or wanting to spend more quality time with them alone, then these are major red flags. If it’s a math teacher or someone that works with your child pay close attention. If it’s a family friend or a fishy family member I’m not saying this is for sure their intentions but be sure your on alert. If you don’t feel comfortable then stop the relationship. Most importantly, if your child doesn’t feel comfortable with being around a certain person listen to them and take them seriously. 

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tricky people

How to talk to your kids about tricky people

Here are some rules and tips to think about, teach your child, and talk to them about it. 

  • Ask permission to go anywhere and do something. If their plans have changed when they are out they need to check in first. If they can’t check in then the answer is no. 
  • Never keep secrets. If someone is telling them not to tell someone or keep something a secret that has made them uncomfortable or hurt them, then that is a sign they need to tell someone.
  • Tell them to listen to their instinct. If something is making them feel uncomfortable or feel funny then avoid the situation however they can.
  • Their body is their body. Nobody is to touch them even if it’s a family member who justs wants a hug or kiss. If they don’t want to, then that person needs to respect that. 
  • Have a family secret password for if you aren’t able to pick your child up from somewhere-that person will be the only one who knows it. Someone you 100% trust. 
  • This is more for parents, but parents always listen to what your child has to say, take it seriously, and don’t brush it off, no matter what age.
  • If someone makes them feel uncomfortable it’s ok to say no. It’s ok to say “no” to a grown-up. 
  • If they get lost they scream to get as many people’s attention. Also, find a family with kids and that they feel comfortable approaching. 
  • Let them know that the funny feeling in their tummy or the voice in their head is saying something to listen to it. Odds are it’s a tricky person likely a tricky person. 
  • Never take something from someone they don’t know
  • An adult doesn’t need help from a child, they ask another adult. Example: looking for a lost puppy. Looking for something inside a car or house

Earlier I said the people with titles are the ones they should be able to trust. That is where the tricky people technique can come into play also. Unfortunately, just because they have that title doesn’t mean they are all 100% trustworthy. They will learn how to identify who is good and not good, by noticing these “tricky people” signs, and they will learn how to listen to their intuition.

I wanted to spread the word and encourage you to try it. Visit her website Safely Ever After, she has so many tips, parent and child workshops, and resources that may save your child’s life.

This topic is scary, and as much as I don’t want to think about it, I constantly do. I want to know that I am teaching my kids everything I know about being safe in an effective way; and teach myself how to protect my children in an effective way.

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