Why Is My Child Too Friendly with Strangers?

You’re here because you’re not comfortable with the way your child familiarizes 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, innocence is one of the most attractive traits in human nature 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 basic 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, 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 a lot of safety problems that need to be fixed.

Constant Change in Primary Caregivers

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

And one of the reasons is because the early bonding of children (with a particular person) will inevitably create a huge influence in their lives thereafter.

Which explains why it’s important for children to bond with the right people—a selected few at best, that involves 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 deep problem in the emotional structure of children.

This is because children require spending 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 on anyone they could 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.

Point is, children are social and emotional.

They always need those part 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 Just Have a Social Butterfly

If your child is overly familiar with strangers, he/she 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, what you can do instead is consider seeking a therapist that is focused on children’s attachment.

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 to skillfully handle certain situations in ways that’ll enhance secure attachment, simultaneously, enlightening your child about safer means of familiarizing with strangers or restricting how they familiarize 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 with—they are cautious of no one.

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

Children having such disorder are not cautious of strangers and they 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 an unsafe 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 obvious 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 him/herself sitting on the next plane to The Bahamas. Lol.

Signs Of Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder

First off, note that because your child is too familiar with strangers doesn’t confirm he/she is having Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder.

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

  • 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 very little or no hesitation.
  • Reduced reticence in approach and interaction with unfamiliar adults or strangers.

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

This is a disorder that 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 the Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder includes:

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 just turn to the nearest stranger for comfort.

Seeking Affection from Anyone

Children having Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder will give attention to anyone who shows them 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 basic 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 set in place, a professional therapist can then 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

Obviously, there are tons of downsides that comes from your children familiarizing themselves with strangers, basically for security reasons.

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

That said, it’s important to raise children with a healthy fear of strangers and other potential, harmful people.

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, the right association to keep, and most importantly, it creates in them a sense of self-security and social intelligence.

Children who grow up being too friendly with strangers (maybe due to disorder or whatever) end up getting hurt in life.

They’ll trust easily and easily 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 and they’ll learn 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 whole lot of life’s trouble.


By now you should have a clear sense of 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 is having a disorder.

Like I pointed out earlier, he/she might just be a social butterfly that needs to be attended to.

And just with the right steps as already mentioned, 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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