Got a Wanderer?
The mall is a fascinating place to kids, and they won't think twice about running off to get a better look at anything that catches their eye. Here's how to avoid -- and handle -- store separations.
- Keep your child occupied. Take along books and small toys to entertain him while you shop. A bored child is more likely to wander off when you're distracted.
- Give him your cell-phone number. If your child is too young to memorize it, write the digits on a piece of paper and put it in his pocket. This way, anyone who finds him will be able to contact you right away.
- Have an action plan. Make sure your child knows what to do if he loses you. Tell him to stay where he is and to call your name. If he can't find you, he should alert a store employee (explain how he can identify workers and security guards by their name tags or uniforms). If he's very young, teach him to look for another "mommy" and ask for help.
- Don't panic. If your child wanders off, alert store personnel and mall security -- they may have procedures in place to help you find him. In addition, go back to the last place you saw him, calling his name as you go.
Originally published in the December 2007 issue of Parents magazine.