Planning a holiday getaway this summer? Even if you’re planning to stay home, you and your child should know what to do in case they get lost or separated. It can happen any day of the year at the grocery store or the mall, but can be much scarier if you lose sight of your child on holiday in an unfamiliar setting.
Snap a Pic
Before you leave home, the hotel, or the car, snap a quick pic of what your kiddo is wearing each day. The first thing you will get asked when reporting a lost child is “What are they wearing?” In your stressed out state, you’re likely to draw a blank. Having that photo can help staff get a visual of the child and the clothes they are looking for.
Identifying Information in Case Your Child Gets Lost
Is your child old enough to ask for help? If you have an adventurous toddler or a shy preschooler, you may need a find a way to have your contact info on them. Consider ordering a child ID bracelet or personalized temporary tattoos with your information on them. If you’re in a bind, take a non-toxic marker and write your name and mobile number on their arm or tummy. Avoid writing on their hand though, as when they wash them your info could get scrubbed off.
Older kids should be able to memorize and repeat their name, your name, your phone number, and home address.
Practicing Can Make Finding Your Child Much Easier
If your child is old enough to ask for help, practice, practice, practice what they should do if you get separated. Telling them what to do and having them repeat it back is not enough, you need to physically go through the motions so that if something does happen and you get separated they know how to physically react. Knowing what to do isn’t enough, they need to be as brave as they can and act quickly so that they get found right away.
What should your child do if they realize they can’t see you?
1. Stand still and call out your real name. Not mom, not dad, but your real name.
2. If you don’t come, they need to stay in the same spot and look around them for an employee or a police officer. Little kids won’t be able to distinguish between employees and everyone else, so skip to the next step for them and don’t have them practice looking for an employee.
3. If you don’t see an employee or a police officer, look for a mom with kids.
4. If you see a mom with children, go up to her and tell her that you are lost and you need help. She will take over and handle the situation from there.
5. Make sure they know to NEVER leave the area with anyone, even if the person seems nice, and to SCREAM stranger danger if someone tries to get them to leave or get into a vehicle.
Why a Mom with Kids?
The experts say that women, especially those with children, are much more likely to commit to helping a child than a man, and will stay with the child until their adult is found. Why are women more likely than men? Men are afraid as being seen as a predator or kidnapper, and may be too embarrassed or afraid of the stigma to help.
Once Your Child is Found
After you hug them, kiss them, and start to calm down, you can use the situation as a teaching moment. Did they stay in one spot? Did they call your name? Did they ask for help? Praise them on what they did right. Hopefully this will be the only time they get separated, but just in case they need to know what they did right so they do it again in the future.
Ready for a great summer? See our post 90 Fun Things to Do and See This Summer!
Photo courtesy of Mik Scheper on Flickr.