Whom is Laura Sessions Stepp kidding ["Teaching Timidity to Kids," Style, Dec. 8]? Parents know that even if they shelter their children in a few ways, they cannot shield them from dozens of unforeseen hazards.

For example, I've learned that on the day last year that my daughter and I went shopping for soccer safety equipment, the terrorists who were later to fly an airliner into the Pentagon were working out at the Gold's Gym in the same mall. On Oct. 3 this year during our morning commute to my daughter's school, we likely crossed paths with the snipers during their shooting spree in Montgomery County.

Two weeks earlier, my youngest child was swarmed by hornets and received multiple stings during a barbecue. In November she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Under the watchful eye of family, friends, health care professionals and school personnel, she is doing very well.

Following a child around the neighborhood by phone while the child is in view is beyond the pale. Unexpected events are the stuff of life. But whatever reasonable measures we take to minimize their impact will not induce timidity. And maybe harsh events themselves increase it.

Instead of condemning parents who are vigilant, we should congratulate them for their efforts to protect their children in an often impersonal and unpredictable world.

MARY JO COYLE

Beltsville