I have kids. And I go to busy malls at Christmas just like the rest of us. What should I do if my kid gets separated from me? What should my kid do?
Beth over at Pretty Loaded has a nice article on lost children. It covers what your kid should do (i.e. what you should drill into your kids) and what you should do.
I suggest anyone with kids read her article and make sure your kids know what they’re supposed to do if they look around and can’t see you anymore.
I especially like that she includes Gavin de Becker’s ideas about approaching women instead of men (and that she encourages the kid to do the approaching, which is better than waiting to be approached). Gavin de Becker’s book on protecting children is a classic and every parent should read it.
My only 3 comments about her article are that:
A – I don’t like harnesses for kids (a personal parenting preference). If it’s that busy and crazy enough to need a harness then the kid stays home, sits in the trolley, or gets carried.
B.1 – One thing she didn’t mention which I recommend is practice. Do “super duper invoke-favourite-superhero’s-name training” and practise with your kids at the mall where everyone pretends they’ve been separated and your kids must run to the meeting spot. A not busy mall helps. An extra family member also helps if your kids have to run out of sight to get to the meeting spot (the family member hides along the route so someone always has line of sight – just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you).
B.2 – My kids also take turns “being the leader” and get us from 1 shop to the next, or get us back the car. Or anything else I can think up. I want them familiar with all the places we go to, and familiar as in driving the car, not being a passive passenger (who doesn’t have to figure out the best route).
C – I don’t like tracking devices for kids (or anyone for that matter). And I’m pretty sure every kidnapper knows about them, but Beth wrote about lost kids, not kidnapped kids, so her point is valid in this context.
Make it fun and kids will want to practice more. You can get all kinds of important training done if your kids giggle and laugh and find it exciting.