Truth vs. Innocence: Teaching Young Kids about the Dangers of the World

Posted September 21, 2011 by

Photo of the-warrior-mom

Taste buds, tactile pleasures and the direction of the wind converge to form the basis of my four-year-old boy’s decision-making criteria. No matter how many times I tell him otherwise, he remains an immature and gullible target for any practical joke — or any predator.

Scary thought.

However, the truth is that I love his innocence and innate sense of goodness, seeing all strangers as potential friends worth trusting. I’ve witnessed the hearts of the grumpiest people melt once exposed to his larger-than-life smile and bright, almond-shaped eyes. His aura oozes with love and kindness.

So, my question is: how do I teach this sweet boy that the world is not as it seems? That unfortunately, bad people exist. And that even amongst those he knows and within the “safe places” he spends his time, somebody may want to trick him, or worse yet, hurt him.

And because he’ll be pioneering new terrain in pre-kindergarten, I feel pressured to get my message across. Now.

Upon communicating my urgency to a dear friend, she loaned me a DVD called The Safe Side: Stranger Safety, Hot Tips for Cool Kids. It features a super-hero gal that moves the young viewer from scenario to scenario, demonstrating how to act and react “safely” in various situations. As a family, we’ve watched it together many times.

I know my boy doesn’t lack in comprehension skills because after he watches any movie, show or listens to any bedtime story, his recall is almost 100% accurate. Yet somehow, with this topic, when I initiate the post-program Q & A session, it’s as though he has not captured the point. At all.

His relentlessly stubborn, trusting personality refuses to surrender to (the modified-kid-version of) today’s world’s harsh realities. He lacks criteria, common sense and hasn’t a mean bone in his little body.

Making this kid aware of danger, fearful of strangers, and explaining the subsequent “whys” of it all is not only virtually impossible, it has me torn. How could I rob him of his innocence, of his sense of wonder, his good inclinations, and his right to see the good in the world?

As I wrestle with this heart-wrenching dilemma — namely, safeguarding his purity vs. tainting him with the truth — I continue to comment about the “real world” by presenting him with all the “what-ifs” of each scenario.

I hope, one day, my teachings will penetrate through those dense layers of kindheartedness that insulate him from the cruel world and translate into smart, appropriate action “when and if” necessary.


Darah Zeledon aka The Warrior Mom is a wife, mom of 5, writer, fitness buff and thinker. Her unique voice reveals an experiential and academic knowledge of the social sciences—particularly psychology and sociology. Her empowering messages are born from an appreciation and passion for life and a nonstop quest for truth, reflecting a wisdom and resiliency earned by an array of challenging life experiences. Despite it all, Darah’s personal favorites are the quirky anecdotes exposing the chaotic tug-of-war between motherhood and personal passions. She’s currently working on her memoir—a tragic, yet inspiring story of the last five years of her life entitled: A Lucky Girl. You can read more of her musings at:

Popular on Empowering Parents

View Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Wriecke Report

    I don’t know if you wrote this asking for feedback on where you draw that line between teaching your children about the world they live in vs keeping them innocent, or were just throwing your dilemma out there. I have taught my children that most poeple are good, but there are a few bad/hurtful people out there. I have also told them they look just like everyone of the “good” people. To tell the difference I tell them that NO ADULT/GROWN UP WILL EVER ASK A CHILD FOR HELP. If an adult does they are to run away as fast as they can to an adult they know, and if there is not one close, then to any other adult. Because most people want to help others; they WON’T ask for help from children. It was the best I could do. I wish your article addressed some ways to teach those all important “life” issues while balancing our children’s innocent wonder that make children so beautiful.



Join our NEW Total Transformation® Learning Center!

Practical, affordable parenting help starting at $14.95/month BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!

Empowering Parents is the leading online resource for child behavior help


Parent Coaching Sessions

7.5 Million

Global Visitors

10+ Years

Helping Families