Why Is My Child Too Friendly with Strangers?

You’re here because you’re uncomfortable with how your child familiarizes themself with strangers.

And you need to know why it is happening or how to correct it.

Plus, you’d like to understand if it’s safe for your child.

If this sounds like you, then don’t skip a single word in this guide as we break down ideas and clarify situations regarding the nature of children about strangers.

Why Some Children Are Too Friendly with Strangers

Understand that innocence is one of human nature’s most attractive traits, and children are the most innocent humans—free from guilt, biases, and personal agendas.

That explains their free-spiritedness, including their receptive nature.

So it’s only natural that a child attracts and is being attracted to people, including strangers.

However, that’s not always the case—sometimes, such attraction could be a fault, a defect in the psychological or emotional build-up of the child that needs to be corrected.

Especially when the child is too friendly with strangers.

That said, some of the fundamental reasons children familiarize themselves with strangers are:

Social Neglect

A child with a history of social neglect involving a lack of basic emotional needs, support, and affection from parents and caregivers, will feel the need to become too friendly with strangers.

It’s human nature to be social, and it’s even more intense in children because of their innocence and free-spiritedness.

This will invariably urge them to seek external emotional comfort (from parents, siblings, and close relatives around)

So if they can’t get much emotional support from within, they tend to look for it elsewhere—strangers.

This is quite dangerous because, over time, the psychological build-up of the child begins to readjust his emotional framework to the reality of finding satisfaction with strangers.

And just as we both know, this poses many safety problems that need to be fixed.

Constant Change in Primary Caregivers

Every child needs to bond emotionally with their parents or caregivers to live a healthy, emotional life.

And one of the reasons is that the early bonding of children (with a particular person) will inevitably greatly influence their lives thereafter.

This explains why it’s essential for children to bond with the right people—a selected few at best, that involve their primary caregivers.

However, one of the problems today is the constant changing of primary caregivers of children.

It might not seem like it, but this poses a severe problem in the emotional structure of children.

This is because children have to spend a long time with a particular person before properly bonding with them.

So, if their caregiver is constantly being changed, they can’t properly bond—their childhood becomes an emotional rollercoaster.

For this reason, they’ll subconsciously begin to seek emotional satisfaction from anyone they can find—neighbors, strangers, etc.

And probably, when next you take them to the grocery store, they’ll familiarize themselves with the man standing right next to you.

The point is children are social and emotional.

They always need those parts of themselves to function.

So, if they can’t get the support they need, they’ll look for it elsewhere, albeit a safety problem.

You Might Have a Social Butterfly

If your child is overly familiar with strangers, they may be just a social butterfly.

It does not necessarily mean you’ve been neglectful about their needs.

However, seeing that your child is familiarizing with strangers, you can consider seeking a therapist focused on children’s attachment instead.

The aim here is for the therapist to help you rejuvenate your connection with your child, creating a sense of safety and a healthy boundary between you and your child.

Furthermore, the therapist will help you skillfully handle certain situations in ways that enhance secure attachment, simultaneously enlightening your child about safer means of familiarizing with strangers or restricting how they familiarize themselves with strangers.

Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

We both know most children are naturally cautious about unfamiliar adults, and that’s okay; a safety measure for the most part.

But on the other hand, some children don’t care about who they familiarize themselves with—they are cautious of no one.

In such excessive friendliness with strangers, it’s only safe to understand that children like that may have Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder.

Children with such disorders are not cautious of strangers and wouldn’t mind wandering off blocks away with someone they just met or whoever offered them candy.

This creates a serious safety problem, especially in a dangerous world like ours where situations could easily get messy, plus the alarming rate of missing children in the United States.

Statistically speaking, the FBI has confirmed that approximately 840,000 children go missing (abduction, seduction-when the child goes willingly, etc.) every year in the United States.

Also confirms that a child goes missing approximately every 40 seconds in the US.

While most of these cases are quickly resolved with the help of technological advancement, some don’t make it back alive (either got killed by their abductors or never get to hear from them again), and some remained as open cases.

In light of that statistics, it’s apparent children are not safe around strangers.

In other words, children are not safe in the absence of their parents or a trusted family member.

And unless proper treatment is initiated to correct that disorder, things could get worse from there.

Maybe like your 4-year-old, all by themself, sitting on the next plane to The Bahamas. Lol.

Signs Of Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

First, note that because your child is too familiar with strangers doesn’t confirm they have Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder.

For a child to reach the diagnostic standard of that disorder, they must exhibit a sequence of behavior involving approaching and interacting with strangers and also showing any two of the following behaviors:

  • An extreme verbal or physical familiarity that’s not in accordance with social norms and culturally sanctioned dispositions.
  • The tendency to wander off with unfamiliar adults with little or no hesitation.
  • Reduced reticence in approach and interaction with unfamiliar adults or strangers.

Note: a child can only reach the Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder standard, provided the behavioral pattern is not an effect of Impulse Control Disorder.

This disorder makes its victims unable to resist the sudden and forceful urge to carry out something, even if it violates social norms or other acceptable social behaviors.

That said, some of the signs to look out for when trying to understand if your child is having Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder include:

No Preferred Caregiver

Most children have a particular caregiver they turn to when in need of comfort, maybe when they’re hurt.

This is usually the preferred caregiver that has bonded with them over time.

On the other hand, children with Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder don’t have a preferred caregiver.

When hurt, they could turn to the nearest stranger for comfort.

Seeking Affection from Anyone

Children with Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder will give attention to anyone who shows affection, including strangers.

This is because the disorder makes them unable to distinguish between safe and unsafe people.

There are other signs of Disinhibited Social Engagement, but while I’m not here to go over all of that, I just gave you the primary signs you’ll need to understand if your child is having Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder.


A disorder like Disinhibited Social Engagement usually emanates from inadequate caregiving—disrupting the psychological build-up of the child.

To correct this, the child needs to be provided with consistent care from stable caregivers.

Once consistent care is established, a professional therapist can come in to improve the situation.

This will help strengthen the bond between the child and the primary caregiver.

The Risks of Children Being Too Friendly with Strangers

There are a lot of downsides that come from your children familiarizing themselves with strangers, and one of the most significant is the risk of security.

Not just that, but also against physical harm and other areas.

That said, raising children with a healthy fear of strangers and other potentially harmful people is essential.

Raising them this way goes beyond helping to prevent them from wandering off with strangers. It also plays a bigger role in their life afterward.

Like understanding the right circle to roll with and the right association to keep, and most importantly, it creates a sense of self-security and social intelligence.

Children who grow up being too friendly with strangers (maybe due to disorder) get hurt.

They’ll trust easily and quickly get disappointed as well. They’ll lack social intelligence. This will make them unconscious of people’s true nature.

Taking this further, such children will pass through a series of betrayals in life because they’ve failed to understand that everyone doesn’t deserve their commitment and trust has to be earned, especially from strangers.

Maybe they’ll learn, but they’ll learn the hard way only after a series of disappointments.

But if you, as a parent or a caregiver, can correct all that now, you’ll save your child from a lot of life’s trouble.


By now, you should clearly understand why your child is too friendly with strangers, having gone through the ideas shared in this article.

Just to add up, the nature of children allows them to be adaptive and receptive.

In this context, it means they’ll subconsciously adjust to their environment to ensure survival on both emotional and psychological grounds.

That’s precisely why you, as a parent or a caregiver, shouldn’t leave their needs unattended—they’ll be forced to satisfy that need even from a stranger.

On a final note, don’t be in a rush to assume your child has a disorder.

As I pointed out earlier, they might be a social butterfly that needs to be attended to.

And just with the right steps, you’ll handle the situation like a walk in the park. That’s it.

Let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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