I need advice fairly urgently. My son is coming out of shell and is getting friendlier by the day. He often says "Hi!" to random people and answers and asks questions of strangers. I am happy that he is so friendly, but today we were on the train and he randomly told a bum his full name and our building no. I'm seriously afraid that he could walk off with someone and/or give out too much personal information. I am aware that it's simply not practical and actually quite harmful to tell a child "Don't talk to strangers!", period. It's an understandable tack and I realize that parents who do it have the sense to realize that not every conversation with a stranger may be dangerous, but do it anyway because small children often lack the discernment to tell the difference between which topics are ok and which ones aren't. I have a problem with the mantra because 1) not talking to a stranger may be impolite (depending on the question) and children may actually need to talk to a stranger in dangerous situation (i.e., approaching a cashier in a store when separated from mommy) AND 2) because telling children not to talk to strangers period may build up fear unnecessarily. My mother was a very paranoid person. Of course, she warned us not to talk to strangers at all, and advised us that if we say things, we might get kidnapped. I remember being young and stiffening with fear whenever a stranger addressed me directly. I was convinced that every stranger was a child welfare worker (homeschoolers have to be wary of them) or a crazed kidsnatcher. When people talked to me, my eyes would just open wider and my mouth close. I'm sure people thought I was crazy or simple, or both. I don't want to scare the crap out of my son, but I want him to be safe! FYI, my son is three, so I need answers tailored to his level. I believe that this conversation is easier with older children, as they develop better judgment. Thanks in advance!