Being a parent is incredibly stressful, but there is nothing more terrifying than the thought of losing your child. Unfortunately, this is what loads of parents have to go through every single day. Luckily, most of these children are found fairly quickly and safely, but there are some that aren’t. If you want to keep your child safe, and ensure that they don’t get lost, or, at the very least, find you quickly, then you need to teach them what to do when you’re out and about in public. Here are thirteen tips to prevent you from having to face the worst.
Teach Them Your Details
As soon as your child is able to understand, you should start teaching them their full name, your full name, your address, and your phone number. This is usually possible at around four years old, as this is when children start to join schools and have to memorize songs and the alphabet. If yours is struggling to remember these details correctly or is too young to do so, make sure they have a copy of them with them at all times. You could write these things on their arm, give them a note to hold onto or have it written on a piece of jewelry.
Never Leave Them Alone
In most cases, children under the age of about seven or eight shouldn’t be out alone, regardless of where they are. They may only be in the front garden playing, but anything could happen while your back is turned, so make sure that you are always watching them, or that someone trustworthy is. If you take them to the park, don’t let them run off out of sight alone; Instead, play with them, so you know what they’re up to.
Keep Contact In Crowds
When you’re out in a crowded place, you should have hold of your child at all times. Usually, it’s fine to let them wander off ahead a little bit, and you follow, but when you’re in a crowd, it is often difficult to see where they go, even if they’re just in front of you. There is also the risk of them tripping over, and them getting hurt. To avoid this, keep them close and hold onto them at all times; You can do this by holding their hand, carrying them, pushing them in a buggy, or using reins.
Consider A Phone
While most parents complain about their children being glued to their phones, there is no denying that it makes it easier to keep track of our children and keep them safe. Because of this, parents are starting to give their children their own phones from a younger age. If you’re not sure what sort of phone to get your child, then check out this site to compare lots of different ones and find one that matches your needs and budget. You could just get them a cheap one, which they only carry while you’re out, this way it can go into a drawer when it’s not needed.
Teach Them To Call
Of course, having a mobile isn’t going to be much use if your child doesn’t know how to use it in an emergency. Because of this, it’s essential that you teach your child how to call you, and how to call the emergency services if you don’t answer. When teaching them about the emergency services, you need to explain that, if they ever got lost or taken, it’s the police that they need to speak to and that they should give them as much information as they can.
Set A Safe Place
When you take your child out in public, before you go anywhere else, make sure you find somewhere big and noticeable. This would serve as a safe space for your child to go to if you did ever get separated. In most places, this would be an information desk or customer services. Tell your child right away that this is the place that they should go to, and that you’ll go there to find them if anything happened.
Teach Them About Badges
You also need to teach your child about who they should go to for help if they were ever to get lost. These people include police officers, adults with young children, and people that work where you’re visiting. As a general rule, anyone with a name badge should be able to help, so explain this to your child. To make sure they understand, ask them who they should ask for help when you’re out one day, and let them identify these people for you. If they’re right, praise them, and if they’re wrong, correct them, and ask them to try again.
Give Them A Ticket
If you’re out somewhere that has assigned seats, such as a football game or a play, then make sure that they have their own ticket and that they keep ahold of it. This way, if you got separated, they could show their ticket to an usher or security guard, and they would be able to bring your child back to you. If you’re worried about them losing their ticket or they don’t have one for whatever reason, then write this number on their hand.
Explain And Practice
Children are naturally curious creatures, and as such, ask a whole lot of questions. Because of this, they’ll want to know why they have to do certain things, like hold your hand or keep ahold of their ticket all night. Of course, you shouldn’t scare them with the thought of getting lost or abducted, but you also shouldn’t make light of or ignore the seriousness of what you’re teaching them. Explaining to them that all of this information is to keep them safe, will help it stick into their minds, as will practicing certain things everytime you go out, like identifying help.
Let Them Scream
Most strangers will be of no threat to your child, but you need to know that if they were ever taken off by someone that they didn’t know, that they would kick up as much fuss as they possibly can. You can ensure this by showing them how to resist if anyone tries to take them away, by teaching them to scream, yell, kick, and run. You should also explain that, once they’ve gotten away, they need to go to someone for help, like a police officer or a family with young children.
Tell Them “No”
Children have it drilled into them from a young age that they should respect their elders and do as they’re told. While this does ensure that your child is raised to be polite and respectful, it also means that they might not understand that they don’t have to do something they’re uncomfortable with, just because an adult has told them to. You have to explain that, while they should normally be polite and do as they’re told if they don’t want to do something, they can say no, and if an adult is making them feel uncomfortable, they can be rude and tell them to go away.
Watch What They Wear
If you’re taking your child out, and you know that you’re going to be somewhere busy with lots of crowds, then it’s essential that you make your child stick out as much as you possibly can, just in case you get separated. You can do this by putting them in a brightly colored top or something with a bold pattern. This will make them easier to spot and makes it easier for others to find them if they get lost, and you have to describe what they’re wearing.
Take Lots Of Pictures
It’s much easier to show someone a picture of your child than it is to describe them, so make sure that you have a recent picture of them with you at all times. The best thing that you can do is take a picture of them on your phone the day that you go out. This way, your child is wearing the same clothes as in the photo, so you don’t have to struggle to remember these details. If your child has a phone, it also makes sense for them to have a picture of you, so that you can be found too.
Remind Them Regularly
It’s important that you discuss safety with your child on a regular basis, rather than only when you go out. If the topic is more common, your children are less likely to get freaked out or scared when it comes to them leaving the house. Reminding your child of these important safety tips will also help them to stick in their minds so that they don’t forget your phone number or who to talk to if they ever did get lost and needed help.
As a parent, keeping your child safe is always going to be high on your list of priorities, but it often feels a lot easier said than done. Hopefully, with these tips, you can keep your child by your side, so that you never have to face the worst while you’re out and about.
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