Losing a child in public is any parents’ worst nightmare and whether you’re heading into the city, you’re off to an event, or you’re venturing to another country, a lost boy in a crowd is a very real possibility. We know from experience how it feels like someone has ripped your heart out, when they go missing even for a few minutes.
For some parents of boys this is enough to make them stay at home, so we thought we’d share with you some tried and tested ways to keep them in tow so you can enjoy more time getting out and about with your boys.
1. Dress them in bright coloured clothes, hats and swimwear
When boys are busy exploring a new place, you can’t always be right next to them. However dressing them in bright coloured clothes makes it so much quicker and easier to work out where on earth they got to this time. From experience, bright orange, green, yellow or red are the best colours. Don’t put your boys in blue swimwear at the beach as it makes it so hard to see them (yes we thought blue was a good colour until we couldn’t find them as they were the same colour as the ocean and everybody else)!
2. Write your mobile number in permanent marker on their arm
The trick with this one is to make sure you write some place that’s not going to get sweaty and rub off. That way if you do get separated, you can be contacted immediately without your child having to remember your phone number.
3. Get them to hold their sibling or friend’s hand and to walk in front of you
Sometimes boys have had enough of holding an adult’s hand and want to assert some independence. Letting them hold the hand of another child works wonders in giving them the feeling of independence. As an added incentive, tell them it is a buddy system and that they have to stick together and look after each other.
4. Teach them what to do if they get lost
Have a plan of what your boys need to do and talk to them about it. If they are old enough, organise a specific spot to meet. Some boys find it easier to remember if you get them to role-play what to do rather than just telling them.
5. Teach them what type of people to seek help from
If they get separated from you, they need to know who to look for to get help – a police officer, security, ambulance, firefighter, or other person in uniform, or a kind looking mother with children.
6. Build a healthy relationship between your boys and the police
At times like this, it’s really important that your boys aren’t scared of police, so do your best to build that relationship beforehand. It’s also really important not to use threats of calling the police when you want them to do something like clean their rooms or hold your hand in a busy place.
7. Tell your boys it’s okay to yell!
Most boys love yelling anyway, so tell them if they get separated from you, the first thing to do is to stand still and yell out your name. Believe me it’s better than dragging on those heart stopping moments after they’ve disappeared.
8. Make sure you have a photo of each boy on your mobile phone in case they do get lost.
The experts advise parents to take a photo every time you leave the house to go to a big event or enter crowds but this is something I never remember to do. I do however always have lots of photos on my phone and can usually always recall what they are wearing which is essential.
Lost boys – when they do get lost…
If you do lose a boy one day and you can’t find them, contact staff of where you are, and if necessary, the local police as soon as possible.
Most parents of boys will have at least one story where they got separated from their child, so don’t be too hard on yourself. They are little boys after all, tied up in their own thoughts. Getting lost usually isn’t deliberate but traumatic none the less.