Kids And Crowds, Tips To Ensure Safety And Have Fun
ShareTap Staff 11/28/2016
Parenthood, with all its glory and joy is a paradox which also brings with it a constant fear of somehow screwing up badly. Parents of young kids especially, can attest to the constant struggle of exposing their children to new experiences while keeping them safe and sound. While parental instincts and common sense seem to save the day most of the time, they aren't always enough to tackle bigger environments outside the home.
To keep you from living the worst nightmare of your life, a California police department has a simple tip for parents who will be taking their kids to crowded places like holiday markets, parades, and concerts. That in addition to some of these easy reminders can make sure that family time in the great outdoors stays enjoyable and stress free as intended.
In the day of smart phones, this hardly seems like an extra chore to many of us who are already into taking selfies and pictures of our family. But doing so especially before heading out to the special event, parade, or fair, means you will have the most current and up to date picture of the children should something go wrong. Being able to show the police the picture of what the child is wearing at that moment can be priceless.
Dress In Bright Clothes
According to Chicago Tribune, dressing kids (and parents) in bright colors that stand out in a crowd, make it easier to keep the group together, especially in families with multiple children. Avoid the usual favorites like character or logo tees and try to opt for neon colors to make it possible for the parents to spot the children, as well as for the children to spot the parents. Dressing alike in matching colors or tees might seem tacky but the practicality make it a great tool to keep everyone from straying.
Depending on the age of the child, it might not be a bad idea to put some of the responsibility of sticking together on the child, says Pattie Fitzgerald of child safety advocacy group Safely Ever After. Instead of simply repeating to hold hands and stay together, create a game to make the task more fun. Ask them to be in charge of performing a head count every 10-15 minutes. Or, challenge the child to be only three giant steps ahead. Keep them involved in the constant task of sticking together.
Promote Hand Holding
Experts at PopSugar advise to always encourage children to hold hands in a public space every time. For instance, telling them that if they choose to get out of the stroller, cart, or sling, they must hold hands. Enforcing this rule strictly despite of any tantrums and loud crying, can reinforce the simple act of holding hands. Parents might find this a bit exhausting given it involves potential public meltdowns and repetition, but in the end it comes in handy especially in crowded spaces.
Some parents (and kids alike) might take offense to the backpack leashes on the market made especially for kids. For parents with multiple children, or a toddler who especially loves playing the running away game, this little tool can be a godsend. The leash straps on like a backpack and gives plenty of space for the child to explore without straying too far.
According to the Clovis Police Department in California, their number one tip for parents with young kids who are heading out to a crowded event, is to write the emergency phone number on the child's arm with a marker and to cover it with clear liquid band-aid solution. The solution when dry makes the phone number resistant to rubbing off due to sweat or hand washing. This is an essential tip for children who are too young to memorize their parents' phone numbers in case of getting separated.
According to Dr. Deborah Gilboa, a child development expert and frequent guest of Today, leave the home assuming you will get separated. This means giving the child enough tools and directions to act safely on their own. Teach them to stand still and yell their parents name. Encourage them to keep their cool and find a helpful official like a police officer, security guard, or a least dangerous stranger like a mother with another child. If applicable, pre decide on a meeting spot in case of separation. The key, says Gilboa, is to make the child less scared and keep the whole group more prepared.
Watch this video to see an eye-opening social experiment involving kids and strangers.
The most current study about missing children by the Department of Justice states that of the almost 800,000 missing children reported in one year, only 115 are abducted by total strangers. Parents can take comfort in this reality, and by using simple vigilance and the tips above, can be sure to explore the world with their littles in tow.