The feeling that comes over you as a parent when you loose sight of your kids is horrible. Panic starts, your mind flashes through all the places they could have gone, tears fill your eyes and you may even begin to shake. This is shock and fear working in your body.
So what can you do to prepare your child as well as yourself? There are a few things I can suggest.
1. Train your child to respond to you when you call their name. You can begin this when they are young. Make it a game. For example, ‘Where’s Tracy?’ When they show their face respond with smiles and encouragement like ‘good girl’. As they gain vocabulary have them say, ‘Here I am!’ Play it around the house and give them lots of praise as they respond to you.
2. Take it to a wider place like a playground and train them to shout back to you as soon as they hear you. Practise this with them when you have them in sight so that if they are get out of sight and you can’t see them they will know to answer you when you call. It is very important to practise this with small children, much like practising for a fire drill. There are various ways to practise this, e.g., “Go, Go, Stop!” Having them respond to your commands is extremely vital.
3. Tell them when you go out what the expectations are. When you call their name you want them to answer right away. This is just reinforcing what you have taught them.
4. Teach your child that when they feel lost to start calling or shouting for you. If you are looking for them and they starting calling for you, you will recognize their voice and know what direction to go in. It will also alert others to the fact the child is lost.
5. Our first introduction into parenthood was full on because we had twins. While they are a blessing, they can easily go in two different directions. One of the things I found helpful was harnesses and reins. When you are out and about, they come in very handy for keeping tabs on the little ones. It also is training them to stay close to you.
6. Teach them not to speak to strangers or go off with anyone else. When our children were little we had a video called ‘No, Go, Tell’. The video explained that if a stranger asked the child to go with them they were to shout ‘No’, and then run to someone they know and tell them what happened. We don’t want to make our children paranoid to speak to people but we do want to keep them safe. Discuss that concept with your child.
7. If you are in a store or a mall and you can’t locate your child, have the security informed and alerted so they can make an announcement and help you. The more eyes the better! I know of a child that fell asleep and never heard the parents calling. In another case the kids were sitting in front of the big screen TVs completely oblivious to the calls of the parent.
8. Call the police if your efforts don’t succeed. Even if you find your child by the time they get to you, you have done the right thing.
9. Pray! My first response may be panic but then it’s, ‘Oh God, please help!’
10. When you and your child are united you need to let them know how much you love them and that is why you are concerned when you can’t find them. Then let them know that they need to be where they are supposed to be.
11. Forgive. These times can be very traumatic so you need to not only forgive your child but yourself too. You are not a terrible parent for loosing sight of your child.
You don’t want to live your life in fear of loosing your child or that he or she will be abducted. If you give into that fear you would be home bound and really not be living life at all. We don’t live in fear of fires but we do prepare students as to what to do if there is an emergency while at home or school. It’s the same concept. You can prepare them and that’s being a good parent!