Let’s assume that you are visiting a crowded beach with your toddler. You buy a bag of popcorn and turn around to hand it to her. Imagine your surprise when you find that she is not around. You try to frantically search for her, calling her name but can’t find her. It would be a dreadful situation for you. And for the child, it would be even more traumatic! Let’s look at how to take care of your child in crowded places, and to teach your child to handle herself in such situations.
1. Prepare your child
Before going to a crowded place with your child, use simple language to make her understand that she should always stay close to you. Make her aware of the fact that if she wanders away from you, it will be very difficult for both of you to find each other.
2. Never let go
Always hold your child’s hand in crowded places. When moving along with the crowd during occasions such as a temple festival, it is prudent to carry him in your arms or on your shoulders (would also give him a better view!). During times like being late for an event, you may tend to walk faster. And, being unable to keep pace with you, your child can get left behind and easily lose his way. So, never let go of his hand.
3. Decide on meeting points
If your child is old enough, then discuss with her and agree upon a prominent spot where she should come and wait for you, in case she gets separated. Make sure that the meeting point is easy for her to see and reach. When you find that your child is missing, immediately go to the meeting point, so that she doesn’t need to wait there for long.
4. Seat child on the cart in supermarkets
A supermarket is full of people and things that can attract your toddler’s attention. While you are busy scanning the shelves, your child may wander towards his favourite toys section. If you don’t have your partner around to keep an eye on him, make him sit on the baby tray of the shopping cart. Just ensure that the seat is clean and free of any sharp or pointed edges. Some parents make the mistake of leaving the cart with the child seated in it to pick things up from the distant shelves. Don’t do this. Child and cart may both disappear!
5. Beware of stranger danger
Teach your child to stay away from strangers. Tutor her as to whom she should ask for help in case she wanders away from you. Tell her that in such situations, it is safe to seek help from a security guard, a policeman or any other parent with children (like mamma!). Make her learn your name and phone number, so that she can tell this information to the person she is asking for help. You can even place a card with your name and contact number in her pocket. Teach your child to stay away from people who are alone—both men and women—who may offer her sweets, toys, etc.
Crowded places also aid the spread of infections. Avoid taking your child into a crowd if possible; else, ensure proper immunisation and be prepared for any sudden illness. As he grows older, educate him on how to handle stressful situations. Teaching your child to take care of himself will be the best gift you can give him.