Continuing on from our last post on what to do if your child gets lost, here are some basic rules every parent or carer should teach their child if they are old enough to understand:
Basic Rules Every Kid Should Know
1)Beginning when your child is a toddler, you should talk about the possibility of getting lost. The most important thing is to have a plan, and emphasize to children to follow it in the event they get separated: At the beach, for example, tell your kid to find a lifeguard, then stay put. You’d be amazed at how far kids can go looking for their parents. At the beach, once children start going one way, they tend to keep going looking for their parents.
2)To express the point that you would never leave them, remind your child you’d never go away from where you are without them — so she/he shouldn’t try looking for you. You may even want to instruct a toddler to sit on the floor or the ground if she can’t find you and yell your name from there. Tell bigger kids they can be no more than “three giant steps” away from you, or ask them to stay where they can see you.
Of course, some kids are “runners,” and they won’t realize you’re not with them — until they’re nowhere near you. Either way, tell your child that if you don’t respond when she yells, rather than looking for a store clerk or a security guard, she should stay put and ask the first “mommy” with a child she sees to help her. Why a mom? Women with kids are statistically less likely to be predators and more likely to stay with your child until she finds you. “Uniforms can be confusing for young children,” explains Pattie Fitzgerald, a Los Angeles consultant who teaches safety to parents and children. “Some security guards are safe; others, who knows? When children are lost, you want to give them the least-risky choice.” Once children are elementary-school age, experts say, they can identify an employee. “You can tell older kids to look for a person behind a cash register,” says Fitzgerald. “Most employees in major stores are trained to know what to do.”
3)To help the lesson stick, role-play the next time you’re out together. “Have your child actually ask a store clerk or a woman with kids for help,” says Nancy A. McBride, executive director for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “It helps to make these situations you’ve talked about real for your child, so when they do lose you, they know what to do and they don’t panic.”
4)In crowded venues such as theme parks and outdoor festivals, or in a big store, it’s always best to have young children secured. “Right from the beginning, teach your child that if they’re in a public place, they can choose: Ride buckled in the stroller or hold your hand,” says counselor Bonnie Harris, author of Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids.
Still, if you know you have a child who likes to bolt, a safety harness or a leash can help keep him from dashing into traffic or getting lost in a crowd, despite the controversy leashes tend to ignite. “They’re a great way to keep children safe because they actually give them more freedom,” says Parents advisor Jenn Berman, Psy.D., author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. “They have more room to stretch and explore, their hands are free, and if you have multiple children it makes it easier to corral them.”
We hope these points were useful, please look out for the next post where we will continue on from these points!