Being out and about shopping with young children can be stressful. This week in our ’10 Ways to’ parenting tips series, we explore some tips that will help you keep them safe.
- Talk with children once they start to develop language skills about where they live, their phone number and parent’s name.
- Help your child recognise staff members in large shops. Point out uniforms and other identifiers. help them to understand that if they lose sight of their parent/carer that they should only talk with a staff member.
- For young children it can be useful for them to wear a wristband with your phone number on it as sometimes people may not understand what they are saying or your child may be too scared to tell them anything.
- Always talk with children about strangers; these are men, women and children. Help them to understand that they do not talk with strangers and should never go anywhere with them no matter how attractive it may seem.
- For young children, especially those under two years of age, it is best to keep them in a buggie when in large shops, malls or streets. They may not love the idea, but they can go missing in minutes otherwise. Help them enjoy the trip with small breaks from the buggie to eat and for hugs, but secure them in the buggie otherwise.
- For children who have outgrown the buggie it is very useful to use a wrist harness. It can be hard to hold hands all the time especially if you’re carrying bags. Talk with your child about the purpose of the harness, to keep them safe.
- Once you enter the shopping centre, show your child a clear place that they should go to if separated from you; for example, a security desk or any brightly coloured or unusual feature that stands out. This place needs to be easily spotted when looking up from your child’s height so crouch down beside them when showing them this spot. Children will not see which way to go if you choose a location which they can’t see from looking up. They need to be able to see past the crowd.
- Explain to your child that if they do get lost to just to stay still and not move about at first, and that they must always answer you when you call their name. Then you can go back to the places you have been and hopefully locate them. Children can at times hide in clothes or toys and in shelves; there is so much to distract them in busy shops. Help them to understand that this may be good fun but when they do this, you cannot see them.
- Maybe let your child have a whistle, or if old enough to use a phone, perhaps they could have one to use when out and about. Your number can be pre-programmed on quick dial. This may support you finding them sooner.
- If your child does get separated from you, inform staff immediately. Do not hesitate. Do not feel you need to wait and look yourself first. Get help from the staff straight away.
LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on the topic of safety when out and about on Monday 12 January from 11am-12pm on One Family’s Facebook page. Join in and post your question.
This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly. Coming soon: 10 Ways to Talk with Children About Death.
Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.