Originally posted here.
I took both of my boys to The Zoo by myself for the first time last week. We had a wonderful time. But, at one point of our trip, my 4 year old got too far away from me and a sea of people got in between us. I could see him looking around for me with fear in his eyes. I quickly darted between the crowd towards him and I saw his relief when he found me.
Then it hit me…I never talked about what to do if he ever got lost. Total parent fail.
He didn’t have one of those emergency contact tattoos or sheet of paper in his pocket with my phone number.
I’m not sure he’d be able to tell anyone my name. He can sometimes remember my first name, but most of the time I’m just Mommy.
He has no idea who to talk to to ask for help, or where to go.
I totally failed at giving him the tools he would need if he was ever lost.
I used to safety plan with all of my clients when I was working as a therapist, so why didn’t it occur to me to do it with my own child? I guess I just got complacent and didn’t think that MY child would ever get lost. So silly…I know.
So I decided it was time for a little lesson.
How to prepare your child for being lost.
- Freeze: If your child finds himself lost without his parent, teach him to freeze. Remind him that you will be looking for him so he needs to stay where he is.
- Find a helper: The best person for your child to look to for help is another mother 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 what to say to that kind mother that they’ve found. Teach them to say something simple like “I’m lost”, or “I can’t find my mommy”.
- Know the Info: It’s important that your child know names and phone numbers of his parents or caregivers. I like to teach this info in a song because it’s easier for a child to remember that way. It’s always good to have the info written down somewhere on your child just in case. Even if your child knows the info, they maybe too upset to remember it or tell the safe person. I linked to some great products and DIY solutions at the end of this post.
It’s seems pretty simple huh?
But this is not something you can just go over once and be done. This is something that children need to be reminded of.
I went over all 3 of these with my son on our way back from the Zoo that day, and we’ve discussed it a few times since. My plan is to remind him of these rules before we go to any public place where he could get lost.
Hopefully, he’ll never get lost, but if he does, I want him to be prepared.
What other tips do you have to help your children if they get lost?