Be extra vigilant for your child’s safety this season

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Dex Sibiya

The holiday season is a joyful time of year, but it is also a time when you need to be extra-cautious when out-and-about with your child.

Between frenzied trips to the mall for holiday shopping, crowded airports and holiday parties, it can be hard to keep track of your little one in the crowds. These holiday tips will help parents ensure that their children stay protected and have a safe holiday season.

  • Talk to your kids before a family outing. Make a rule that you must always be able to see them and they must always be able to see you. It may sound simple, but keep reminding them regularly, especially if you think they’re getting restless;
  • Use the “two giant steps” rule – your kids can never be more than two giant steps away from you. It is a fun and easy way for young children to remember not to wander away;
  • Teach your kids that if they are ever separated from you, they should look for help from a mother with children, or a cash register person;
  • With older children, agree on a “meeting place” ahead of time, in case you are separated;
  • In addition, teach your child to never leave the mall or store to go looking for you, no matter what anyone tells them, remind your child that you would never leave until you are reunited;
  • Furthermore, dress your child in brightly coloured clothes to make him easy to spot and be sure to remember what they are wearing;
  • In busy places like airports or shopping malls, consider using a cute harness for toddlers who are prone to running off. Your child’s safety is most important, so do not worry about what others think;
  • Establish the “check first” rule with older children, they must always check with you first before going anywhere in a public place, including another store, play area, or even the restroom;
  • Do not treat public play facilities as a “convenient babysitter.” Avoid leaving your children alone at video arcades, movies, play areas, or other public places. Predators are known to look for unsupervised kids;
  • Always bring young children into the restroom with you. Look for well-lit restrooms in high traffic areas, whenever possible;
  • Discuss age-appropriate safety issues with your child in a calm, non-fearful manner;
  • Replace the word “strangers” with “tricky people;”
  • Let your children understand that it is not how a person looks like that makes them unsafe, but it is what they ask a child to do that makes someone “thumbs down.”
  • Children are known to leave with a stranger because “he seemed nice” or “she didn’t look like a stranger.”
  • Make sure that your child knows your cell phone number by heart.