Kid & Crowds… Celebrating the 4th
It’s America’s birthday! The 4th of July is a wonderful time of celebration, of building traditions with your family and of creating memories that will last a lifetime. With a little planning you can go a long way to assuring those memories will be great ones. I want to give you a few action steps you can take if you’re going to be out in the crowds with your kids.
First, realize that there will be tons of distractions. From fireworks to music, to interesting people to food smells and so much more, you can expect both you and your kids to have a hard time focusing on things like “stay together”. You do your best, but it’s going to happen. Chances of getting at least a little separated are fairly high. Don’t freak out and if you have action plans, your kids don’t have to freak out either. Here are a few ideas that can help:
1. Understand and simply enjoy the distractions together. Don’t be so focused on getting to your destination that you miss all the things in between. Sharing those kinds of moments with your kids can often end up being more special than the ones you expected.
2. The FREEZE GAME – When a child gets separated from mom and dad, he simply stops where he is and waits for you to retrace your steps and find him. So you’re not wandering around in possibly opposite directions looking for each other and more importantly it greatly reduces any possible bad outcomes. Your child doesn’t have to try to decide who to trust or who looks safe and they don’t have to be scared as they have a plan. If someone offers to help, your child simply asks them to stay until mom and dad come back. Even if it is a police officer… stay put! Don’t go anywhere with anybody… PERIOD!
And remember when this happens, praise the child for following the plan!! Don’t yell for not keeping up!
3. Take it a step further with your child and instruct them that if someone ever tries to forcibly take them to start yelling, “This is not my daddy/mommy, HELP”, so that there is no confusion for anyone who may be around. A crying or even screaming child might be misinterpreted as a child throwing a tantrum. Teach your child, if you need help, yell for help.
4. Does your child know his information? If not and even as a backup, put your cell number on a piece of paper and put it into your child’s pocket or even write it on their upper arm under the sleeve, so someone could call you if you do get separated. And as a shameless plug, one of our partners, Sticky Jewelry, offers the “If I’m Lost” bracelet that has your cell number engraved on the back. CRN gets a portion of the proceeds.
5. Before you get into the car, pull out your cell phone and snap a couple of photos of each child. One full length to show what they are wearing and one close up head and shoulders to show what they look like. That way if your child isn’t quickly located an effective search can be conducted as the picture can quickly be shared to law enforcement.
6. Use the Buddy System – While not a guarantee, children are much more likely to be approached by a predator when the child is alone. So if your child is at an age where they will go off with friends, have a conversation about watching out for one another.
Be prepared and moments of panic can become stories of remember when you got lost for a couple of minutes at the fireworks. Protecting your kids from predators is about empowering them with the knowledge and skill sets to make the best decisions possible.
Happy 4th of July!