Once you realize you’ve lost your toddler out of the sight in a public place, you’re about to experience a heart attack. The same panic we feel when our growing up children don’t pick up the phone, and we have no idea where they are. According to statistics, in the US, about 460,000 children are reported missing every year. Sadly, in some cases, kids are never found again. How to avoid losing your kid?
Please, spend 15 minutes to read this article and make sure you follow the advice every single day.
1. Make a photo of your kid
Going to visit some public event? Make a shot of your kid. Confused and shocked, parents who’ve just lost their kid often cannot remember the clothes and other details. With a fresh photo at hands, you will make it easier for other people to notice the little one. If the kid gets totally missing within 2-3 hours, this photograph will be the best reference for rescue groups and police.
2. Kid got lost? Don’t wait too long
If you know your kid’s walk from school to home takes 25 minutes, and they won’t appear in 50 minutes, start searching. Don’t hesitate to call and write anyone who can help: teachers, classmates, friends’ parents, and so on. Never think it’s inconvenient for others – your worries are totally justified! And don’t forget to call back again to assure people everything is okay and the kid has been found.
You never know what might happen while your children are away: they might have visited a friend on the way home, or have been frightened by a homeless dog. Whenever concerned, start your search!
Must read: Typical Parenting Mistakes We Do Every Day
3. Call 911 whenever you think it’s right
There’s no law that prohibits calling 911 or police, even if your kid was lost some 2 hours ago. Feel free to call anytime and say ‘I lost my child’. If you realize there’s something wrong and can’t figure out kid’s whereabouts –start your search immediately!
4. Build the habit of calling parents
Make a deal with your son or daughter: whenever they go somewhere, or have already come, they should call you and notify about that. Kid decides to visit a friend? He has met the cousin and they’re going to the cinema? Or the child is cycling in the park? You should always know about that.
Show your offspring that it’s not about controlling their life – you are worried about them. It’s okay to worry about our family.
5. Use GPS apps and tracking gadgets
There’s the whole gamut of smartwatches for kids, and the list of tracking applications is a mile long. If your little one carries a smartphone (we really recommend buying one) you can ask the mobile network operator whether they offer some tracking services.
There’s a myriad of services and technologies to find the kid’s location, but they will be useless once the battery dies. So make sure the devices are always charged and don’t meddle with the search.
If your children can use a smartphone and gets lost, they should call parents or 911.
6. Teach to say ‘NO’ to strangers
In many cultures, it’s okay to starts a spontaneous conversation with a stranger. But you should make your kid understand one simple thing: strangers will not ask kids to help them or give them a ride! You should have a serious and open conversation and explain that going somewhere with the first comer is not a good idea!
7. Make up a password
Okay, the stranger approaches your kid and says “Hey, I’m your uncle Sam, your mom called me, she can’t pick you up after school and asked me to do that. Here’s my car – let’s go!”
What to do?
Your kid should ask the password that only family members know!
Let it be a passphrase or some word the kid will always remember. No ‘I forgot’, ‘She didn’t name it’, ‘Kid, no jokes, let’s go’ accepted! Once the stranger fails to name the password, the kid should stay away from this person and cease the conversation. This method is so simple, and can work very well!
8. Never refuse the escort!
Your children ask you to pick them up? Never refuse this favor! Come and take your little one. Maybe your kid cannot tell you there’s someone looking at him in a strange manner. Maybe there’s a gang of crazy teenagers handing outside the supermarket. You never know.
Just get your butt off the sofa and take your kid.
9. Teach the kid to scream
Many children and adults cannot scream loudly, so practice a bit. Go to the woods, or to a park, and try screaming (make sure you don’t confuse the people around). Make sure your kid will be able to scream as loudly as possible in case of danger. That sounds silly, but such skill might prove useful one day.
10. Don’t ignore the kid’s life on social media
Do not prohibit using social media – modern kids are smart and will always find a way to use the Internet (and hide it from us). Let your children create their own accounts: it will give you a chance to see what they like, which music they listen to, and whom they communicate with. Check kid’s account one a month: if you see some strange adults in the list of friends (and it’s not a relative or teacher), find out who it is.
11. Make sure there’s no online threat
Pornography is the most harmless thing you can see on the Net. Also, there’s a lot of information about suicide, drugs, crimes, and, of course, cyber bullying. Children might check all this just of pure curiosity. Just make sure there are no unhealthy, inadequate interests. The online world influences kids’ mind just as strongly as the real world does. Thus, you should:
- Let your kids know they should never make favors for strangers, either in the real world, or online;
- Show kids what online advertisements and popping-up windows are, and what to do with those;
- Ensure your kid does not get involved in any suspicious groups and activities.
12. Kids should know the home address
What to do when lost? Try to get back home! Even a 3 y.o. can learn the home address by heart. City, street, house, his name, and names of parents – that’s enough for small kids to explain to others where they live. Older kids should also learn parents’ phone numbers to contact the family in any situation.
Also, you can teach your kid such phrases as “I’m lost, please, help me find my parents” and so on.
13. Use labels on clothes
Some clothes have inner labels where you can write down your address, parent’s phone, and kid’s name. It will also help other adults contact you in a timely manner. Have no child ID tags? Write this information on a piece of paper and put it in a pocket.
14. Hold your kid’s hand in crowded places
How to prevent losing your kid in the middle of a crowd? Maintain contact with your kid: hold his hand firmly enough. When it comes to massive events, keeping kid ‘within sight’ is a stupid strategy – once you weaken your attention, the kid can disappear.
So whenever your family is out, there must be one adult (not older child) responsible for the toddler!
15. Bright clothes are a must in a public place
How to find a lost child in a crowd of grey clothes? No camouflage – make sure you will see your kid’s neon-colored cap or T-shirt in a crowd! The same applies to camping in the woods and airports.
16. Teach the kid to stay together with parents
It particularly concerns children younger than 7. Ask your kid to stay with parents, no matter where you are: supermarket, forest, airport, or concert. Escort your child to restrooms or whenever they need to go.
17. Explore the neighborhood
While you’re walking around your neighborhood, accentuate kid’s attention on the objects around: a bunch of trees, a bakery, a road sign. They will serve as orienting points if the child gets lost somewhere near home.
18. Always have a plan
Got a small toddler? Explain to your child that he should stay exactly where you all have been – parents always start their search at this initial point.
With grown-up kids (say, older than 7), you can make up the plan where and when your group meets after getting separated. It may be cashier’s desk #7 in a supermarket, lifeguard’s station on the beach, and so on.
19. People in uniform can help
Both you and your little one. What should a child do if they get lost? Explain to your little one that people in uniform (policemen on the street, guards in mall, lifeguards on the beach) should be addressed first when help needed.
20. Do not reproach kid once you find her
Please, do not shout child and do not punish kids: in most cases, missing child is parent’s fault. Explain your little one that you’ve been worried, and running away from parents can be dangerous.
Now you know how to avoid losing your kid. Hopefully, you’ll use these recommendations every day. But if you ever find yourself in such situation, do not panic: in most cases, children are found within several hours.
Cover image: Alex Smith (Pexels)