Have a kid who just loves to explore on their own in public? This hack is a game changer.

By Melissa Mills
January 27, 2021
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Curious, independent, confident—these are the attributes every parent wants to see in their child. But what happens when all of those things coincide in the toddler years and you find yourself with a kid that's prone to wandering away from mom and dad out in public?

That's the exact situation that one Australian mom found herself in when her 2-year-old, Nathan, went off on his own on a recent trip to Kmart. Calling it the "scariest 10 minutes of my life," staff was quickly alerted about the missing child, but it was the mom's quick thinking that resulted in a speedy reunion.

Having just seen a TikTok trick for just this type of situation, the scared mom shifted from silently searching for her son and quickly began shouting out a description of him for all shoppers to hear.

An image of a little boy running in a store.
Credit: Getty Images (1). Art: Jillian Sellers

"I'm missing a little boy, he's wearing a yellow shirt and has brown hair. He's two years old and his name is Nathan," the mom recalled to the New Zealand Herald. "I had every adult around me on alert. They all threw aside what they were looking at and started searching too." Nathan was found shortly after.

The TikTok hack in question comes from mom of three, Jess Martini, who shared the now-viral video in November 2020. "If your child ever goes missing God forbid in a public place—because, remember, these things happen to even the best parents—if you're at an amusement park, zoo, mall, whatever it is, and you look around and your child is no longer with you, what you want to do is you want to start loudly looking for them," Martini says in the PSA. "Do not start silently looking for them—you want to look loudly—and what I mean by that is you start shouting their description while you look … And you're going to keep repeating yourself while you look over and over again."

The tip is something Martini says worked for her with her own kids. "Now you've got every single person who is around you looking for your child instead of just you and, best case scenario, somebody finds your child and they return them to you," she continues. "Worst case scenario is somebody was walking away with your child. They're more likely to let them go because they don't want that sort of commotion."

It makes sense: Increasing your search party increases your odds of locating the child that's MIA. "You may feel like you look stupid doing it, and maybe you do, but it is so much better to look stupid than to be sorry," Martini finished. And of course the message seems like common sense, but in the heat of the moment it's a basic step that could make a huge difference in a stressful situation.

"So to all parents out there, if your child goes missing, do not search in silence or just call out their name," the Australian mom advised. "Shout out loud and clear. Say that they're missing, give a description and repeat, repeat, repeat!"