Given the current heat it may be hard to believe, but the days will soon be shortening and the weather will be cooling. The new season brings a variety of fun from fall festivals to football games to crowded pumpkin patches. But if you’re the parent of young children, the crowds can be cause for more stress than fun since toddlers aren’t able to memorize key personal information yet and are known for taking off after anything new, bright and shiny! But a little preparation goes a long way… Here are some of the top crowd safety tips compiled from parents who have been there.
Over Communicate: It’s common sense, but communication can prevent the panic that occurs when each parent wrongly assumes a child is with the other parent. If you’re splitting up at an event, be very clear about which children are going with you and which ones are staying with the other parent.
“Her Name is Mommy”: Make sure your child knows your real name. While it may result in a few weeks of being addressed by your first name, it is better than your child insisting that your name is “Mommy” or “Daddy” in an emergency situation.
Hand Holding: Sure to be met with some resistance, but good old fashioned hand holding is key for getting through the bigger crowds. It takes work, but learning that they need to hold hands and stay near you is vital. If possible, try to find some space where they can safely run around for a bit to get some of the wiggles out.
Role Playing & Games: Prior to the events, spend some time role playing and going over what your children should do if they do get separated. Your name (see above), your phone number (if your child is old enough), where to go, and what adults are safe, are a good start. The details will change and grow based on the age of your child, but repetition is important so your child remembers this key information even in the high stress situation of realizing they’ve been separated from you.
Also, games such as “Red Light, Green Light” or other “Freeze!” style games may be beneficial as well. Let’s be honest, they hear “no” and “stop” so often that it can become background noise, whereas “Red Light!” may make more of an impression.
Dress : Dress them in brightly colored clothes and even take a photo of them that day so you can quickly show security/staff who they are looking for.
Safety Bracelets: These little colorful bracelets are worn by your toddler and contain your cell phone number, so that IF the unimaginable happens and you get separated from your child, an adult will be able to contact you. Just make sure that they know to show their bracelet to a police officer, store employee or other adult. If your child is too young to reliably remember your number, this ensures you can still be reached.
Know When to Pack it In: Sometimes the crowds are too big, or the event is too chaotic for your child to listen or stay nearby without a fight. Know when to say enough is enough.
If you’re interested in making a safety bracelet for your child, Smyrna Parent and Anklebiter Adventures are co-hosting a playdate on Monday, September 8 from 10:30am – 12:30pm at Tolleson Park (back entrance at the playground and pavillion). We’ll provide the materials, you just have to show up, play, and make your bracelet! If you’ll be joining us and are not a member of Anklebiter Adventures, please email me at [email protected] with the number of children attending so we purchase enough materials.