Would your child know what to do if she was separated from you in, say, a crowded public place like a park or a mall? It’s one of the most heart-poundingly scary scenarios for parents but one that every parent must prepare their child for.
- Make sure your child memorizes your full name, your phone number, and your address. Some children as young as 3 may be able to remember mom or dad’s cell phone number. Also make sure your child knows your first and last names. (Some young children might forget mom or dad’s first name since they don’t use them to refer to their parents.) If your child is too young to memorize your information, write it down on a piece of paper and tuck it away, either in her shoe or in her pocket. Remind your child where the paper is before heading to your destination so that she can tell a safe adult that it’s there in case you are separated.
- Have them practice calling you. With older children you can practice having them call your cell phone from a land line or another phone.
- Teach your child how to ask for help safely. Rather than teach your child not to ever talk to strangers, empower your child and tell her to ask a woman with a child for help. If she can’t spot a woman with a child, tell her to look for a woman or a store salesperson with a nametag or a security guard. Teach her to tell that adult that she is lost and to give that person her full name, your phone number, your name, and other basic information.
- Tell your child to never go looking for you if they become separated. The best thing for them to do is to stay right where they are so that you can come and find them.
- Make learning these tips fun. Watch a safety video like The Safe Side -- Stranger Safety: Hot Tips To Keep Cool Kids Safe With People They Don't Know And Kinda Know, created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It delivers important safety information, such as what to do when you are separated from your parent, in a fun and easy-to-understand way that’s perfect for children.
- Practice the “what ifs.” Go over these tips periodically with your child, especially before heading out to a crowded location such as a park, playground, or other public area. Go over various types of scenarios such as “What would you do if you couldn’t see me?” or “What would you do if you don’t see a mom with a child right away after you realize we had been separated?” or “What would you do if someone said you should go with them to find me?” When you are out and about, practice these tips with your child by asking which of the adults around you he would approach if he were lost.