3-year-old Saves Dad by Walking to Fire Station for Help (2 Blocks!)

Hi Readers — Sometimes, when people say, “Why should I let my kid walk to school/the library/the store? There’s almost no upside and the downside is just too dangerous!” all we can do is say, “No it’s not” — an argument that doesn’t get us very far.

Next time, after viewing this great story about a 3-year-old who saved her dad’s life by being competent and confident in the world, let’s try this one: “Kids are CAPABLE of walking to places very young. Younger than you’d believe! And when they KNOW their neighborhood, they are actually SAFER. And sometimes, so are we! So teach them how to cross the street, teach them not to go off with anyone who approaches THEM, and then teach them about the neighborhood. The life you save may be your own.”

Here’s the wonderful story, from CNN. (Maybe CNN can remember this story when it considers renewing Nancy Grace’s contract.) — Lenore

30 Responses

  1. I love this story. Dad was teaching her about safe places in the neighborhood and “she was listening.” I love the stories of compitent kids saving lives. Good for the parents for teaching her about the neighborhood and good on the little girl for paying attention. Kids are smarter, & more resilient than we give then credit for. And if we teach them, they can be clutch in a crisis.

  2. Thanks so much Lenore! I just called my kids down and showed this to them. We just moved to new neighborhood and we’ve met a lot of the neighbors. Last night we had a talk about who they could go to in an emergency. They are great friends with our next door neighbor’s kids so they know they should start there, but we also pointed out the school librarian’s house and a few other close neighbors that they can trust and who are home a lot and available to help.
    Every day we take a new walk or a bike ride to see more of the neighborhood and we always make a point of saying hello to any neighbors that are out so they can see us and get to know the kids. We want our kids to feel safe here and be able to start walking to the park on their own and to their friend’s houses in the area.
    I always thought that was the whole point of living in suburbia…
    Mad props to this little girl and her parents! Bravo!

  3. If this doesn’t illustrate how intelligent and capable kids are, as well as the benefits of empowering our children, I don’t know what will. Thanks for sharing Lenore.

    Perhaps the fearful parents out there should focus their fears on the possibilities of what can happen to their child if they DON’T KNOW what to do in a situation they WILL come across.

  4. This is a great story. But what really gets me is that people will read it and think, “What an extraordinary little girl!” No, she isn’t. What she DID was extraordinary, but she is just a normal little girl who was actually taught things that helped keep her (and her family) safe, instead of being sheltered to the point of incompetency. My son is 3-and-a-half, and I am amazed every day by what he is capable of – when I give him the freedom to grow.

  5. http://abcnews.go.com/US/year-hero-saves-brother-cpr/story?id=11457264

    Here’s what a 9 year old can do.🙂

  6. Two things…

    1.) The article said:

    ” ‘I’ve been here over 20 years,” Capt. Robert Villalovoz said. “It’s the first time I’ve had a 3-year-old walk up to the fire station.’ ”

    “Alesaundra then escorted rescuers back to her house, where her father was ‘sitting in the living room, needing medical care,’ Villalovoz said.”

    ———————-

    This is probably proof that many young kids today are “not empowered” by their parents to do things like this. While kids prove their intelligence every day, parents often seem incapable of translating what they see their children doing into actions like this little girl did. What I mean is, a parent will report how a 2-year-old can open their front door and go outside, but will not see that action as competence and then follow through on teaching the child other things that could follow like what this girl did.

    2.) The father in this story endangered his own life with prescription medication. Thousands of people die every year from “LEGAL” prescription medication. Over the years, much concern is trumpeted about the dangers of illegal drugs, while far more people die from doctor prescribed medication.

    In a way, this principle is like what is happening with children and fear-mongering. As Lenore has said many times, the things that cause more deaths, like cars, don’t get the attention that obscure dangers get.

  7. What a wonderful, bright little girl! I love the very end of the video interview, where she turns to the reporter and asks what the microphone is — and he answers her. It’s so nice to see a child who’s obviously used to having her natural curiosity respected and appreciated.

  8. This doesn’t surprise me in the least. The one three-year-old I know quite well is more than capable of doing the same thing. Incidentally, his parents are very free-range.

  9. I knew this story would have to appear here when I read it. Too perfect, and what a well taught 3 year old.

    I’m going to have to train my youngest that well. 19 months old and very independent. I’ll have a lot less trouble from her interest in wandering if she knows the neighborhood. Not that I want her going out and about on her own that young, but better she know the area if she does.

  10. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this story!!! Thank you so much for sharing it!

  11. We live in a large condo complex and go to the playground almost everyday. Before my son was walking, I would take him in his stroller. The first time we went without the stroller, I followed as he walked directly home. He already knew exactly where we lived. He was 11 months old, it blew my mind. It made me realize how inherently capable kids are. It was a good reminder to not unteach him the survival skills that we are born with.

  12. Does this merit some kind of preschool scholarship?

  13. Another article I read included this:
    “According to the Manteca Bulletin, Alesaundra made it as far as the parking lot behind the fire department when members of an Alcoholics Anonymous support group meeting next door noticed that the toddler looked confused and helped her make it the rest of the way into the fire station.”

    OMG, strangers _and not just regular strangers but AA strangers! – assisted this little girl in her mission to help her dad! Another amazing case of strangers not only failing to hurt a child but actually helping her in her empowered, Free Range mission. Very heartening🙂

  14. What disturbs me is that this could have turned out very badly. What if she had been kidnapped, raped and killed? I would never let my child leave the house alone like that. What he should have been teaching her to do (something most parents already know about) is call 911 on an easy to use speed dial phone with big buttons. A child should not be put in such danger even to save a life, especially if there are better, faster, and safer ways to deal with the situation. She’s not a dog like Lassie. She’s a defenseless little girl that was lucky that there wasn’t a pedophile or even a racist person that would have jumped to the occasioni to do terrible things to her. I just don’t understand how any parent would be able to live with themselves knowing that their child could have died, or worse, because they didn’t teach their kid how to dial 911.😦 Poor girl.

  15. ferg, I hate to be critical, but I think you need to read up on this site and even read Lenore’s book before commenting again. The unreasonable fear that pedophiles (and racists?) and child snatchers are waiting on every corner for an unaccompanied child is exactly what free range parenting tries to fight against.

    And this child was anything BUT defenseless. She got her dying father help. How does that make her defenseless?

  16. I applaud that little girl!

  17. ferg, on August 24, 2010 at 4:19 pm Said:
    What disturbs me is that this could have turned out very badly. What if she had been kidnapped, raped and killed? I would never let my child leave the house alone like that. What he should have been teaching her to do (something most parents already know about) is call 911 on an easy to use speed dial phone with big buttons.

    ferg, it also could have turned out very badly with her father dying, but because these parents had given their daughter a piece of information she could understand, she was able to save his life. I sincerely doubt they *let* her leave the house – it sounds like she was there with her father and acted when he lost consciousness. As for 911 – I don’t think most people teach 3-year-olds to use the phone. Why focus on all the far-fetched what-ifs of this lovely story when the actual outcome is that a brave little girl whose parents had wisely told her how to find help (instead of teaching her to fear the world) saved her father’s life?

  18. I was going to say “you won’t believe the negative spin I saw on another site” and then I saw Ferg’s comment, which is along the same lines. A popular mom site put up a post saying the little girl did the WRONG THING by saving her dad. I am still beside myself.

    Oh, the horrors of an obviously bright 3-year-old with great instincts walking two blocks down a sidewalk!!

    Folks, we just have to keep reminding everyone that most “strangers” are good people and “bad horrible things” happen to preschools out in public very rarely!

    Two developmental comments, though.

    1) I’m assuming this child has been taught about safely crossing the street and being smart about traffic.

    2) We can’t assume that even a bright 3-year-old can necessarily dial 9-1-1. My kids know about 9-1-1, but since the only phone we have is my Blackberry, which isn’t really kid-friendly, I haven’t taught them to use it yet. For that matter, it’s not always around where they can get a hold of it. I think the most logical response for most kids in this type of situation is to go to another adult for help, if there are any adults around.

    Yet people say “oh how awful, she spoke to STRANGERS (the firemen)! Totally unacceptable! Sigh . . . .

  19. What disturbs me is that this could have turned out very badly.

    But it didn’t.

    What if she had been kidnapped, raped and killed?

    What if she’d been struck by a meteor? What if an alligator crawled out of the sewer and ate her? What if her father had died?

    Oh, wait, that last one was actually a possibility.

    Repeat after me: Stranger abductions are vanishingly rare. There are less than 300 of them in the US every year – and most of those occur to preteens and teenagers, not toddlers. Rapists are scum, but even most of them don’t want to harm children.

    I would never let my child leave the house alone like that.

    Well, he didn’t let her leave the house alone like that. He was too busy being passed out and dying.

    What he should have been teaching her to do (something most parents already know about) is call 911 on an easy to use speed dial phone with big buttons.

    In the past, some 911 operators have hung up on children, assuming they’re calling because they don’t know better, or as a prank.

    And not everybody has a phone that is particularly child-friendly, especially in this day and age.

    A child should not be put in such danger even to save a life, especially if there are better, faster, and safer ways to deal with the situation.

    She wasn’t in danger. You’ll note that she got where she was going just fine. There really aren’t predators lurking behind every bush on the off-chance that they’ll see an unattended preschooler.

    She’s not a dog like Lassie.

    No, she’s much smarter.

    She’s a defenseless little girl that was lucky that there wasn’t a pedophile or even a racist person that would have jumped to the occasion to do terrible things to her.

    There aren’t that many pedophiles out there, and the vast majority of them prey on children they know – mostly their own families. They’re less likely to get caught this way, frankly.

    As for random racists, most of them aren’t going to up and harm a three year old child. We’re back to the “Even the scum of the earth has standards” argument.

    I just don’t understand how any parent would be able to live with themselves knowing that their child could have died, or worse, because they didn’t teach their kid how to dial 911.

    Well, nothing “worse” (by which you mean rape) was ever likely to happen. No, it wasn’t.

    As far as died, the only person in risk of dying that day was this girl’s father. She was perfectly safe. I guess she could’ve been hit by a car, but that’s about it.

    (Not to mention, does the article SAY she doesn’t know about 911? Maybe she does, but she didn’t think of it at the time. Three year olds can be funny that way.)

    😦 Poor girl.

    LUCKY girl. She knew just what to do to keep her father safe! And her father is safe and sound.

  20. 1) I’m assuming this child has been taught about safely crossing the street and being smart about traffic.

    With both my nieces, the day they turned three they became in charge of telling me if it was safe to cross. Can I go past the driveway? Tell me why – the car isn’t moving, nobody is in it, and the lights aren’t on. Can I go across the street? I don’t see a car – oh, but we HEAR a car.

    I mean, they still had to hold my hand then, and if they made a bad call I didn’t let them move forward (duh), but they were expected to pay attention.

  21. “What he should have been teaching her to do (something most parents already know about) is call 911 on an easy to use speed dial phone with big buttons.”

    I didn’t notice this before, but I have to comment on it. Are we saying that parents of preschoolers must all go and buy a child-friendly speed-dial phone with big buttons, just in case we unexpectedly start dying when the only other person there is our preschooler? Um, I’m thinking not.

    My 3-year-olds have been told that if they are in a situation where someone needs to make a phone call and I’m not there, they should go to a nearby adult and ask the adult to make the call. Shock of shocks, I’ve told my kids to speak to strangers! Good thing we’re anonymous on here . . . .

  22. As for the racist comment – all I can say is that the pic I saw of that little girl is so stinkin’ gorgeous, I might just go hunt her down and steal her myself. God help anyone who sees that child walking down the street and forms a racist thought in his head. Uly is way right on this one.

  23. “or even a racist person that would have jumped to the occasion to do terrible things to her.”

    Yes, I think racists attack small children in Northern California about three times a week. It’s almost as common as sudden death in middle aged males (oops, bad analogy.) In fact, violent, child-assaulting racists are so common in that part of the world you can’t walk two blocks without coming across one!

    Well, not really. There are lots of bad, evil people in the world who might hurt people, but the chances of a child being hurt in a completely random assault in her own neighborhood when no one could possibly have been waiting for her because there was no expectation of her going out alone in such a situation are so low as to require a great deal of imagination to think up such a scenario. On the other hand, according to the doctors, the chances of her dad dying would have been 100% without quick action.

    And as for the phone thing, very little kids are not that easy to understand over the phone. Yes, 911 operators are trained but since absolutely no harm came to anyone and the dad was saved, why are we quibbling over what would have been “better?” It all turned out JUST FINE and THERE WAS NO RISK. She was not “lucky” that something that almost never happens, did not happen to her. If that was “lucky” for her, we’re all “lucky” we don’t die in our cars the first time we drive.

  24. @ferg: It seems to me that being concerned that “a racist person” randomly attacking a little girl who, if I hadn’t seen her father, would read as completely white, is really racist in and of itself. What, is a random carful of black guys going to see her and go, “that’s Whitey, brothers! That’s the symbol of everything that’s keeping us oppressed!” Is a gang of bucktoothed Asian guys gonna grab her up and sell her as a sex slave? Probably not, so go clutch your pearls elsewhere.

  25. What a wonderful story!!! Smart, aware girl! Smart parents to teach her about the fire station. Great parents for bringing her out into the community so she regularly saw the fire station! (kids need repetition).

    And yes, I would be thinking how happy I am she wasn’t killed, raped, or abducted, but that’s overshadowed by how delightful this story is.

  26. My favorite part was that at the end of the video she was sitting in the male reporters lap. Woah. What if he’s a sex offender?!
    Thanks for the story (lovely)…and all the comments (hilarious, at the expense of ferg).
    My day is made.

  27. Has anyone from the hysterical and ill-informed “but something could have HAPPENED” camp yet sunk so low as to blame daddy for having a medical emergency and thus taking his eyes off his daughter for one second? I seem to recall the last time a kid was a hero, a bunch of people castigated the mom for driving when she should have “known” she was going to have a seizure.

  28. Party Piper, yes, I saw someone complain that the dad had knowingly taken whatever drug was making him die, therefore he was even more horrible for endangering his daughter by making her feel the need to go out of the house to get help for him. What kind of rotten dad does that?! Let’s shoot him for the protection of this defenseless little girl!

  29. i need a friend and i have 3 kid and i need some 1

  30. […] paranoid papas remind me of the folks who were upset about the 3-year-old girl who walked a few blocks to the local fire station to help her dad, who was slipping into a coma. […]

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