Summer is the season of family travel. Busy amusement parks and crowded beaches beckon to kids and parents alike, and a lot of us do our best to ensure that our families will make at least one big trip while school’s out. It takes a lot of saving and planning to make these memory-filled outings a reality and often, one very important thing can get overlooked — taking the time to make sure our kids are safe in such busy environments.
Do your kids know what to do if they get separated from you in a mass of people? Have you sat down and talked about it (or, even better, role-played it) with them? If it’s starting to dawn on you that you may have been slacking a little in this area, don’t worry. We’ve got all the information you need to keep your kids safe and happy on your next big family outing.
Here are our top 5 things to teach your child before entering big crowds:
- How Far They Can Go — It’s important to talk with your children about how close you expect them to stay to you before you start your adventure. For young children, you might want to establish a rule of always holding a parent’s hand or always having one hand on the stroller, if you have younger children that you’re also pushing around. For older kids, you may be comfortable with a “I can always see you and you can always see me” rule. Use your judgment, but make sure that everyone understands the expectation before you get to the crowds.
- To Freeze and Yell Your Real Name — Teach your children that you will find them, so it’s best if they stay put in one place. Furthermore, teach them to call out your full name instead of “Mommy” or “Daddy” to help you more easily locate them.
- How to Identify a “Safe Person” — Make sure your children know the best people to approach should they get separated from you. Employees working at the spot you’re visiting are generally always good, “safe people.” But what about places that may not have employees, like the beach? Teach your children to look for a mom with kids. Experts say that moms are often the most willing and best-equipped people to help kids (plus kids often feel more comfortable asking for help from moms). It’s also a great idea to practice finding a “safe person” when you’re out running daily errands with your children. Turn it into a game when you visit the grocery store, library, or the bank — and get your children in the habit of automatically identifying the safe people in their environment.
- What to Say — It can be hard for would-be-helpful adults to assist your child if they don’t know that your little one is lost. Remember that if your child does get separated from you, she will likely be panicking, so don’t assume that she will know how to tell a stranger that she is lost. Role-play getting lost and using simple sentences like, “I am lost” with your kids to help them know what to do if it actually happens.
- Their Personal Information — Make sure your children know as much basic personal information as possible, including their full names, their parents’ full names, your telephone number and their address. If your kids are too young to remember the basics like their full names and your telephone number, write it down! There are lots of popular techniques for this — including writing your name and number on a piece of paper that you can put inside a child’s pocket or shoe, or even writing directly on your child’s arm or belly under his clothes with a marker.
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