Getting lost as a child is super scary. And it’s terrifying for the parent when a child gets lost.
Were you ever lost as a child? I was. It was the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. I was 6. We were in “line” to get on a bus back to where ever we were going back to. The crowd started trampling to get on the bus, my family got on, I got lost in the crowd. Luckily they realized it quick and found me. But it was scary!
Last summer I took my three kids to the zoo by myself. Typically this in not more challenging than a typical trip to say the local park. I mean it’s not like I was taking them to the amusement park by myself, as I told them this summer, they outnumber me too much for an amusement park. But the zoo has always been fine. Except this time my 8-year-old and 2-year-old sons wandered in one direction while my 7-year-old daughter wanted to continue looking at the monkeys. Still not a problem I could see her from where my sons were, until I couldn’t. The 2-year-old started harassing the 8-year-old as 2-year-olds will do and I had to intervene and when I turned back around to check on my daughter she had walked away. She obviously had walked right past us when she continued on her way. When I found her just a couple minutes later, she was calmly looking for me but I could see the fear in her eyes.
I have smart kids (don’t we all) and we’ve discussed a lot of various scenarios to keep them safe but we only briefly discussed them getting separated from us and what they should do. We didn’t really come up with an easy to follow plan for them to follow. I don’t know why. We are usually more prepared than that.
The two older kids know my phone number by heart, but would they remember in a time of nervousness?
We needed a plan — in addition to the “we all need to stay together” lecture.
Here are some tips to teach your child(ren) in cases when a child gets lost.
Freeze: If your child finds himself lost without his parent, teach him to stay where he is as you will be looking for him and will find him faster and easier if he stays put.
Find a helper: The best person for your child to look to for help is another mom with children. Police officers are not always around, but everywhere you turn, there’s a mom with kids. And most mothers are more than willing to help out a lost child.
What to say: When a child is lost, they are probably really scared and upset. So, it’s important that they know to tell their helper something simple like “I’m lost” or “I can’t find my mommy.”
Know the Info: It’s important that your child know his parents’ names and phone numbers. It’s a good idea to have this info available for the “helper” in case the child forgets in the moment of fear. There are many products that can help with this like temporary tattoo with a phone number or a SmartKids ID bracelet, which has a scanable QR code that brings up your and your child’s information for the helper on their smart phone.
It’s a good idea to go over the plan with your children on the way to outings at busy, people-filled places like the zoo, mall or amusement park.
Later this summer we (two parents, less outnumbered) did bring the kids to the amusement park. We had SmartKids ID bracelets on all three kids (and we stopped every security and police officer we saw to show them and explain the bracelets to them). Of course all three kids remained accounted for the entire time, but we had the extra peace of mind that they knew what to do and had the bracelets to help us find each other, if something did happen.
Have you ever lost your child even for just a minute? Share your comments below.
By Amie Durocher, Creative Director at Safe Ride 4 Kids and certified CPS Tech since 2004
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