The longest 5 Minutes of my life

As my daughter goes getting older I enjoy seeing how she is becoming an independent little girl. Lately she likes to do everything on her own. She is only 3 years old and she already tells me she wants to play alone and calls me only when she starts getting bored. One of her new things is opening doors for daddy and me when we go to stores. I guess she sees daddy doing this often since  I’m always carrying her baby brother, so she wants to help too. This was perfectly fine until she decided to run ahead of daddy one day to go open the door for him at the store we were at, but we didn’t know she was going to do that. My husband lost sight of her in seconds and he walked to the back of the store to the other exit door thinking she had gone that way. holding-hands-612065_960_720

It was a scary five to ten minutes of my husband screaming her name around the store looking for her, until finally he gets paged by one of the cashiers to go to the front of the store. My daughter had been at the front of the store at the outside door opening the door for people as they were coming in. The cashier had noticed my husband screaming her name for a while and decided to ask my daughter what her name was. Thankfully she answered and the cashier figured out she was the little girl we were looking for and paged my husband.

Now when I go to a store I am always holding my daughter’s hand and don’t let her go ahead of me. She hates it and tells me she is a big girl and she can walk next to me, but I’m still very hesitant to let go. I still want her to be independent, but I want her to be safe too.

How much is too much independence? How can I keep her safe without taking away some freedoms? I’ve started researching on products that I can use to still give her freedom and keep her safe. But I think that we need to teach her some safety rules when it comes to strangers, getting lost in a store, and how far is too far away from mommy and daddy. I wish that daycares and schools would take some time to teach all kids about these safety rules. Also how to differentiate who is a safe person to talk to and who isn’t. Our kids are so vulnerable when little that we need to have safety rules in place at all times.

Here are some safety tips to prevent losing your child in a public place:

  1. Dress your child in bright colors, and memorize what they are wearing or take a picture with your phone.
  2. Develop a ‘what if’ protocol. Practice this with your child as a game. Play different scenarios of what your child should do if you get separated in the store.
  3. Have a recent digital photo of your child on your smart phone or camera.
  4. If you’re in a large group, assign one adult to watch each child at all times. This adult cannot get distracted with phone or other things. And if so, he/she should hold the child’s hand or keep the child in very close proximity while always keeping their eyes on the child.
  5. Share your cell number with your child. Make it a game and have your child memorize the number. If they are too young, have them memorize your and daddy’s full name.
  6. Invest in a mobile, wearable GPS tracking device.

Now this is not meant to scare you, but to take precautions. Our children are the most important part of our lives and we always look for the best ways to keep them happy and safe.