Des Moines, IA

Strangers and Tricky People



It’s never too early to start teaching your children about strangers and the newer term “tricky” people.

While this is an all-year-round concern, children and parents need to be especially cautious in the summer when kids are outside and there is more activity and more people around.

As a parent, many of us were raised on the notion “stranger danger”; the weirdo lurking in the park without any kids or the man in the car staring at kids. While there are still strangers you don’t want your child to interact with, there are some you do want them to feel comfortable going to if something happened, such as getting separated.

Who would be a stranger that’s okay for your child to reach out to if they were to get lost or separated? Someone like you; a mother or father with kids, or a police officer, or a grandmother or grandfather with kids.

The issue with strangers is that as soon as they introduce themselves, they aren’t a stranger anymore to a child.

What you need to start teaching your children about is “tricky people”. These are the adults that are asking children for help, offering special one-on-one time, asking kids to keep secrets and adults, without kids, who pay special attention to children. It’s important to teach your children about these adults and how to spot one for their safety.

Two young girls on playground_Farrell's Martial ArtsTips to teach about tricky people:

1. Adults shouldn’t ask kids questions. Period. If any adult is asking kids for directions or help, teach you child to tell them to speak to an adult and find the closest adult.

2. Need permission from parent. Teach your child that everything needs permission from you, not anyone else. Tricky people will tell children to keep secrets and that it’s okay to go somewhere else. In these cases, teach your child that they need to ask you first. It could be another mother asking the child if they want to do on a different part of the playground, which would be okay, but it could be a tricky person trying to hide with your child. Tell your child they ALWAYS need your permission first.

3.  Stay put, don’t take. Teach your child that it’s never okay to accept anything from an adult or to go anywhere with an adult. Again, remind them that they need permission from you, their parent. 


It’s not just up to our kids to be smart around tricky people. As a parent, you need to be vigilant about your surroundings. Between smartphones and multiple children running around, there are a lot of distractions for us to lose focus. Follow these tips when out with your kids:


1. Put down the phone or book. Pay attention to your children playing. You don’t need to watch every second, but you should know where they are. Many tricky people take advantage of children that are flying under the parent’s radar.

2. Scan the area. Are there more adults than children? This doesn’t mean there aren’t two parents to one child, but knowing how many people are around and observing who is coming and going is good to know.

3. Be suspicious. Many tricky people use other ways to lure children, such as one-on-one time, special gifts, etc. Be suspicious and wary of any adult, such as a coach, teacher, friend, family member, etc. that offers these types of extras for your child. If anything, tell them you will attend as well so they are never alone with the child.

4. Teach your children about their privates. And use the correct terminology, not a fun or silly name. If you notice them calling body parts by something different than what you’ve taught, ask them who told them that.


Our number one priority as a parent is to keep our children safe. Simple rules like the above can mean a world of difference in the safety of your children. Education and vigilance is key.

For older children, remember that these rules still apply for online interaction with adults. As a parent, make sure you have restrictions and monitor your child’s online activity closely.


Farrell's Martial Arts Kicker LogoTKD Tip: Sit down with your child(ren) and discuss different scenarios in which someone may be a tricky person. Act these out so that they can get comfortable saying the words they’ll need to say.



Location Info

Beaverdale School         Waukee School
2706 Beaver Ave.            215 N. Warrior Lane
Des Moines, IA 50310       Waukee, IA 50263
515-255-0095                  515-978-3000