The Mother Co & Staying Safe without Fear

I met Abbie and Sam, founders of The Mother Company, over the summer and was blown away by their awesome. (ED: If you're unfamiliar with  The Mother Co, I highly recommend you check them out. Great parenting resource.) Over a recent lunch, Abbie and I got to talking about stranger danger/fear mongering/all of the things I wrote about here. She then told me about Ruby's Studio: The Safety Show and EMPOWERING children to listen to their "uh-oh feeling" instead of scaring them away from adults/human contact/life. (Amen.) 

I recommend their program with five thousand stars for parents and educators looking for an assist in the safety conversation. Ruby goes "there" in a way that isn't scary and I am so appreciative that there are women like Abbie and Sam in this space. (I get pitched the most insane fear-mongery "the world is out to get your children!" stuff ALL DAY LONG so talking to Abbie and Sam is a breath of fresh high-fives.)  Anyway. Mother Company 4 prez. Let's talk safety. 
Ab and Sam under RS sign Abbie & Sam: founders of The Mother Co

GGC: Why did you decide to do a show on safety?

Abbie: Because as a parent, I needed one. When my daughter was really young, I worried about her safety and wondered how to talk to her about safety and even how to teach her how to be safe. I knew I couldn't always be around her and didn’t know where to start without creeping her out or having a really icky discussion I wanted to avoid.  I went to a great parenting talk by a nationally acclaimed children’s safety expert, Pattie Fitzgerald, who basically taught me how to talk to my daughter about her safety by empowering her.  I left that parenting talk needing a totally entertaining show for kids that would be a tool for parents - that complemented Pattie’s wise approach.  I wanted a hero in the media - a modern day Mister Rogers mixed with the magic of Mary Poppins - who could reiterate the safety (and social and emotional) messages that would help my daughter become a good person.
Media is such a powerful educational tool when used well. But all the only video out there for kids on safety actually overwhelmed and scared my daughter. Not helpful.  I knew a smart, gentle, beautifully produced show was what we needed--and I vowed to make that show six years ago to help the millions of parents who shared my concern for our childrens' safety and who also wanted all the help we could get in instilling that wisdom in our kids. I’m proud that The Safety Show is all that I had hoped for and now thousands of other parents (and their kids!) are loving it too.

GGC: What are your feelings on "stranger danger”? 

Abbie: There are many things misguided about talking to kids about “stranger danger.” The unfortunate fact is that strangers, for the most part, aren’t the ones that most often pose a threat to children. Research shows that 90% of the harm done to children is by people they know.  Also, it’s misleading since we all live in a society where we have to talk to strangers all day - people in elevators, at stores, at school - interacting with them makes for a more pleasant world.  Additionally, “stranger danger” gives children the fearful sense that there is some kind of “boogieman” out there to get them.  But, again, the people who can cause harm don’t often look like they can. Predators are generally likable people with techniques that make both parents and kids trust them - there are almost never “boogiemen” (think of all those “trusted” examples in the news of teachers, coaches, boy scout leaders, and clergyman).  And finally, if children get lost - and 7 out of 10 of them will get lost in their lifetimes- they need to know to ask a “stranger” - a mom with kids, for example - for help and know that is a safe choice, even though she is technically a stranger.  With The Safety Show, we at The Mother Company feel its better to empower children around their safety and have them trust their “uh-oh feeling.”  Our bodies tell us when something doesn’t feel right and we should encourage our children to listen to that instinct.
GGC: How does The Safety Show empower parents/educators AS WELL as children?

Sam:  The Safety Show empowers parents, educators and children with knowledge and a positive approach to safety (rather than a fearful one).  The truth is that it can really be hard for parents and educators to talk to kids about safety:  we don't want to terrify kids and encourage them to live in fear - and some of the safety related topics can be uncomfortable to talk about, especially around safe touches and bodily safety.  So with The Safety Show, children gain empowering tips, tools and language around their personal safety without any scare tactics or "ick" factor.  We worked with Pattie's safety curriculum and came up with gentle, engaging and fun stories to explore what we feel are the four most important safety tools for adults to address with their kids:

1.) "The Uh-Oh Feeling":  this is the internal barometer inside all of us that tells us that something doesn't feel safe.  It's important to validate our kids' "uh-oh feelings" because then they will learn to trust their instincts and get out of harm's way.

2.) "Check First":  This just means that your kid should check first with you (or another safe adult, like a teacher or caregiver) whenever going anywhere or doing anything unexpected.  If checking first becomes a habit, even in perfectly safe situations, they will be less likely to find themselves alone in an unsafe situation.

3.) "Be the Boss of Your Body" -- This phrase empowers kids to say "no" to any kind of touch that doesn't feel right.  

4.) "Get Smart About Getting Lost" -- As Abbie mentioned, getting lost will happen in most kids' lifetimes, so it's important to have a plan.  Memorizing your safe adult's phone number is a great thing (and our craft in "The Safety Show" is all about that) and learning to find a "mom with kids" is likely to be their safest bet.

The show also provides our "Pop-Up Parenting" feature in the DVD menu, where Pattie offers safety tips for parents throughout the show in little subtitles at the bottom of the screen.  It's totally optional, but we figure it's an added bonus for parents and educators to gain a little more knowledge as they watch the show with their kids.



The Mother Co is offering 20% off Ruby's Studio: The Safety Show and all Mother Co items (that aren't already on sale!) with code GGC20. For more on The Safety Show go here.