Ah children, the pride and joy of parents. No matter how old they are, our children will always be our “baby” and we constantly worry about their well-being. For those of us with older children will know that our kids at some point stray from us and end up lost for a short period of time.
The scary moment when we find our kid(s) are no longer with us, we get into a fluster desperately looking for our kid fearing for the worst. On the flip side, our child is not much different, he or she will be frantically looking for his or her parents hoping to find them back as soon as possible.
Well, 1 thing we have to do as parents, is to be vigilant. Always keep an eye on your kid, especially when you are walking between places. Children are very curious and they can get distracted by just about anything. There are a few child alarm products, one of the latest being the Duet. Their primary function is to let you know when your item or in this case, your child is lost and alert you where they are by sound. But before we start relying on technology, we should always teach our children protocols they must follow if they ever get lost, so in the off-chance technology fails, there is a contingency plan your kid can follow.
As children, most of us at some point in time strayed from our family at some point in time but of course managed to reunite with our parents. This article is just a short guide to remind us what we need to pass on to our children and in case we forgot how our parents taught us what to do when we are lost or just want to check if we are on the right track.
Here are some methods to help you out:
1) Positive reinforcement
Why is this the first point? Simply because as adults, most of us tend to forget that children respond best to positive reinforcement, so as far as possible, avoid yelling at your kid if they go missing. Remember, they also had a harrowing experience.
2) ID card
This card can be very helpful if somebody finds your child, they have a card with information on how to contact you. But don’t put information like your address that can potentially expose your child and yourself in danger. Just a simple lanyard with your child’s name and your phone number will do. For older children who feel more confident in producing their card when needed, you can let them keep it in the pocket.
IMPORTANT: As far as possible, make sure your child can commit your phone number to memory in case that card goes missing. Most of us don’t bother remembering a lot of phone numbers since our phones have them. But this is something extremely important.
3) Situational Awareness
Your child can get lost anywhere, so it is important you have a protocol for your child to follow in various situations. Below is a further dissection of the situations your child might find his or herself in and some common practices that parents teach their children.
a) Transiting between locations
Especially when in a crowded area and you are not holding on to your kid, they can easily get distracted or lost in a crowd. This is one of the times when your child is more vulnerable to getting lost or worse, in trouble as your child is neither here nor there.
First, your child should not move from his current location and seek help from adults around him. Some parents tell their children to find another mummy around the area for help which is fine, but a key note, is that your child should not follow any stranger to find you no matter what the profile of the person is.
After finding an adult, your child should request to borrow the adult’s cellphone, and dial your number to personally speak to you. The card will come in handy if your child still does not remember your phone number or needs help dialing. But always whenever possible, your child should be the only one talking to you.
Let your child know to be aware of his or her surroundings and tell you what he or she sees so you can establish where they are and proceed to pick up your child.
DO NOT LET THE STRANGER BRING YOUR CHILD TO YOU.
b) In a departmental store or a mall
While your child will naturally try to look around for you where you were last seen, remember they are not very tall and have a very limited scope of vision. What may seem to be just a small store to you, may seem to be a never ending labyrinth.
If your child ever loses you, tell him or her to go to the entrance of the store where you entered. This is because most children naturally look for their parents in places where they remember. The entrance is a standard feature of all shops. Just tell them to stay near there while still inside the store.
Depending on the age, it is good to teach your child a sense of time. Tell your child you will be back in half an hour or 15 minutes and check in on them punctually. Now as parents, some of us are guilty of just walking off right after that, it definitely a good idea to let your child know where to find you if they need you and try not to wander off to a completely different section in such a short span of time.
Another thing you should teach them, is to approach the information counter to make an announcement for you to pick them up there. Most, if not all staff will find a way to help your child. If you are the one looking for your child, you should also request for the announcement to be made and if your child does not know where’s the information counter, make the announcement to go to the entrance of a store your child knows.
While the above is a guide on how most parents would teach their children, however, you know your child best and how your family is like. So teach your child positively and if they ever stray from you, let them know it’s a learning experience and to reinforce what you taught them so they will not fly into a panic.
Best wishes to you and your family =)
-The PROTAG Team