What to Do If Your Child Gets Lost at the Mall
No one wants to think about a simple trip to the mall or another public place turning into an accidental separation between yourself and your child. But, here are some safety tips to consider to help prevent it:
Develop a Safety Plan
Despite parents’ best efforts to constantly keep an eye on their children, distractions and mishaps occur. That’s why all parents should make a safety plan with their children in the event they’re separated in a public place such as a shopping mall or store, says Parents.com. It’s important to develop and review a step-by-step plan with your kids to let them know, for example, that it’s OK to walk to the front of a checkout line and inform the store’s cashier that they got separated from their guardian. It may also be a good idea to get your child an ID or alert bracelet to wear, or have your cellphone number attached to their clothing, as that’s the time they would need to share it, adds Parents.com.
Though you likely spend a great deal of time teaching your kids values and good manners, you should also teach them how to act calmly and firmly in an emergency situation. Being able to confidently approach a uniformed security guard or employee to say, “I need help finding my parent,” is an important skill for all children, according to Parents.com.
Wear Bright Colors and Accessories
When going out in public, consider dressing your children in bright colors to help make it easier to see them in a crowded store or mall if they get separated, says Parents.com. You may even want to add a bright and unique accessory, like some ribbons or a bow, to your family’s stroller to help it stand out in case you or your child need to identify it quickly, adds Parents.com.
Have Your Kids Practice
Once you have a safety plan in place, be sure to practice it with your children. Don’t be afraid to stop in the middle of a busy department store and ask your children where and to whom they’d go to seek help if they suddenly became separated from you. Remind them to look for uniformed security guards, officers or employees.
In addition to practicing the safety plan, Code Adam is a voluntary program of business establishments whose employees are trained in helping lost children find their parents. Participating stores display Code Adam stickers to inform parents and children alike that child safety assistance is available. Be sure to point out what these decals look like and explain what they mean to your children, so they’re as informed as you are about the program.
By taking time to develop and practice a safety plan, parents and kids can better prepare themselves for what to do in the event of an accidental separation. Be sure to teach your children where they should go and who they should speak to so they can have confidence when seeking help.
Originally published on September 28, 2013.