Am I overreacting to the attention my friend pays to my daughter?

Dear Stop It Now!,

Our close family friend has been paying a lot more attention to my 8 year old daughter lately. He even brings her presents, which he doesn’t do with my 4 year old.  This is making me very uncomfortable, but I can’t tell if I’m overreacting.

Dear Concerned Parent,

If your intuition is telling you that an adult is paying too much attention to a child, especially when that child is being favored over her siblings, you are not overreacting. If you’re not comfortable with the way an adult is behaving toward a child, the first thing to do is to trust your gut, and the second thing is to take a good look at the behaviors that are bothering you.

Using warning signs to protect children

It’s natural to wonder and to be concerned when an adult, even someone we know well and care about, singles out one of our children over another with more attention and special presents. Learning more about behaviors in adults that can increase children’s vulnerability gives us the chance to step in when boundaries are being crossed. Please read about behaviors to watch for when adults are with children and signs that an adult may be at risk to harm a child.  In some cases, a well-meaning adult is not aware of the impact of his or her actions, and by holding a caring conversation, you can help that person with some “course corrections”.

Talking about concerns

Some behaviors in adults might mean that they are at risk of harming a child. Knowing what to look for in an adult’s behaviors could make it possible for you to prevent harm from happening. Although it’s so hard to express our doubts when it involves someone we know and care about, parents can talk to other adults directly about how they expect their children to be treated. Our website offers a Guidebook, called "Let's Talk" for help in having this type of conversation. Your instinct is your best safety planning tool - trust yourself to keep your daughter safe.

Take care,
Stop It Now!

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Last edited on: August 24th, 2012