What do u do when your child is lost??

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Every parent’s nightmare – a missing child.

While I’ve been among the lucky ones *Touch wood* , Lil P has always been a very righteous kid.. Shez a gentle soul who obeys instructions to the core. Normally I don’t have to be scared of her hurting herself or venturing too far away on her own. Its her basic behavior. She’s always been a very careful baby. Rt from the time she learnt walking, she would be oh so careful to find a soft spot before she would plop herself down. No running wildly no climbing balconies.. Gosh I find it difficult to get her excited about the monkey maze too. Shes always been like that. Maybe too mature for her age.

Ok coming back to the point. One can never really be prepared for this. Yesterday we were at Bangalore central shopping – I was busy talking to the salesman about an exchange assuming Lil P was with hubby and Hubby ventured around thinking Lil p was with me. They were playing the om shanti om song and I saw lil p dancing from the corner of my eye. It was diwali night and the place was really crowded. The next moment shes gone.. I started calling out her name and searched to one side and hubby started searching  the next.. No reply. Almost frantic we asked every1 around. My biggest fear was that she had climbed up the escalator on her own. Just then we heard the DJ announcing that Lil P was with them and her father’s name was so-n so and we should come n pick her. I had tears in my eyes. It was barely 5 mins and my heart had stopped. We ran to the aisle and there she was. a Lil weepy but calm nevertheless.
Apparently she had gone upto the lady at the escalator and told her she was lost.  My name is Lil P n my dad’s name is P. Please ask him to come. She even blurted out his mobile number.

I have had a talk with her on many occasions [after priyanka’s exp with aashna] how she should not run away at crowded places and should stay closer to mummy or pappa as shes too small to be noticed in a crowd. I have also made it a point that she knows my hubby’s full name, her name, and hubby’s mobile number verbatim. She can repeat that in her sleep too. I also had a talk once with her on what she should do if shes lost.

  1. If you can’t see mummy or pappa near you, you are lost. 
  2. Stop any aunty, tell her you are lost and your name is lil P . 
  3. Tell them pappa’s name and number. They will call us and we will pick you up very fast. 

 I am so thankful for having had this talk before. She remembered it and told the staff exactly what I had told her to.  I also keep my hubby’s or my visiting card in her school bag, day care bag, in her sweater pocket at all times. I’m paranoid that way. Once we had her back I again repeated that she should stick close to us. No running away on your own. Mumma n pappa will miss you.  Told her that we were very happy that she told them her name n pappa’s name. Phew! I think I should stick to our routine of having Hubby take care of lil p at home while I shop and me n Lil P at home while hubby shops. Faster n def stress free.

What would you have done differently?? Do you know any good story book that teaches the concept of strangers? or what to do when you are lost kinds??

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  1. Whew! Glad you were able to find her on time and glad that she was able to remember and follow your instructions! I have had that happen to me when lil N was too small…just crawling and walking age. Luckily both times I found her hiding in one of the aisles. But it sure is scary as hell!

  2. Hugs Shruti! I think its nice that u hv told her these things and u r well-prepared too with the cards and stuff. And am so glad she followed it all so well.

  3. oh my god…i had goosebumps reading that..thank God she is fine..and its great that she can remember her dad’s phone number as well…do you think I can do this to R as well..who by the way is about 2.5 years old and an imp in every possible way!

  4. Thank goodness Shruti…
    Hats off to Li’l P for acting promptly…and hats off to you too for everything else…
    Big hug from here…

  5. OMG! But good girl. She followed your instructions

    Be sure to follow some of Starry’s pointers as well…

  6. Good that you’d prepared her and lucky that she asked the right person for help!!! That said, I think its stress-free like you said to have one of the parents staying home with the kid, or just watching over the child while the other is shopping!!! A friend once lost her son in Hongkong when she was on a tour!!! Her hubby was at work. The little boy, all of 5 yrs old, crossed a busy traffic signal and reached the hotel 2 streets away, all by himself!! She had actually instructed him on the route, the hotel name, room no., phone etc and the boy was wise!! An unwarranted risk nonetheless!!
    Sorry, hijacked too much comment space!

  7. @PV: I needed the hugs. I’m just glad that we were safe inside a mall and not in the busy streets.
    @Vidya:A Nightmare for sure.. Gosh. I’m so glad the kid was wise. But the poor mother might have been really scared.

  8. Phew indeed!

    I’d do what you did – teach her what to do, and now praise her big time because she did what you taught her and that both of you found it scary but she was brave and remembered what to do. Like you say she is not the sort who’d go away on her own, so possibly just the crowds pushed her this way and that.

  9. I’ve lost my kids too. http://starsinmeyes.wordpress.com/2009/04/01/perplexing-paranoia/

    It happens, doesn’t mean you’re an irresponsible mom. But it’s important to make sure you have basic safety rules and plans of action drilled into the kid, like you did.

    I’ve trained mine to approach shop people or guards in uniform for help, and to NOT GO WITH THEM or anyone else, but sit tight, give the phone number and demand that the shop person gets their parents to where the child is, and not vice versa.

    Another trick to prevent your child from getting whisked away by someone saying “I’ll take you to your mom” is a password, only you, your hubby and the kids knows, something that, if the stranger doesn’t know, she is not to go with him, no matter what he says. This came in useful when an unknown relative had to pick up Div some months ago, and she didn’t know whether to trust her.

    Another safety rule we have is to always decide in a crowded place, which kid stays with which adult, and to hold hands, even with a million tantrums, and to stay with the kid even in a trial room. Or have the kid stand outside the trial room/bathroom with their feet under the door (!!) so I can change or do whatever in peace!!!

    Hugs. It’s very very scary.

  10. @Divs: Gosh. Toddlers too!
    @Swaram: It was scary.. I’ll have nightmares for a long long time thinking i’ve lost her and can’t find her ever.
    @Chox: Thanks. That was reassuring. Yes. We never have to bother usually cos shes very close by. Yest the song got her distracted and thats how she ended up at the DJs.
    @Starry: Gosh!!!! That must hav been so so scary. I really liked the points that you brought up here.
    1. Educate
    2. Don’t trust every1
    3. Stay put
    4. and code word..
    I’d love it if you could do a detailed post on at what age to teach what. Lil P is always in the changing room with me.

    @R’s mom: The father’s name and mobile number thing started as soon as she could talk. Stranger talk at 2.5 & i think I told her about getting lost at age 3 only.. Let me ask around if there are any suitable books that teach this.

    @Swapna: I’m just glad she remembered. So thankful to God.

  11. Gosh, I remember once when I had lost A within the complex when she was just 5, and went searching for her at all houses. Those few minutes were terrible- I shiver to think about it! Turned out she had gone with some friends to another child’s house to drink water. And this when I make it a point to be downstairs even if some other ladies find it odd- it is common to see kids running around with no-one to supervise. I’m paranoid that way, thank you very much. It was then that I had a long talk with her- she was NOT to go to ANYONE’S house for ANY reason without asking me. No matter how trivial the reason. No matter if ANY of her friends laugh at her. (Oh, yes, she came up with that, and no, it’s not something that she came up with on her own. It’s happenned then, and happens even now. Children can be cruel that way. And some mothers I know are no less!) I’ve spoken with her about strangers, and who she can trust if I am not around, and about good touch-bad touch, about staying close to me at shops, etc. We have also followed everything that Starry has written about.
    And touch-wood A has not tried to cross what she has been asked to do. One can never be too careful.

    Kudos to both you and Lil P.

  12. And I like Starry’s idea of a password- it has a touch about adventure about it that kids are sure to take to and thus follow unquestioningly.

  13. Sure, Shruti, will do a post sometime.

    The bad news is, Dhruv needs a difft approach as he is a different sorta kid, I haven’t figured his safety out yet. 😛

  14. Oh god! That must have been so scary. Glad you found her and she was okay. Hope all is well now and you and she have recovered from the shocking incident.

  15. I am glad LilP was found safe. What we do is have a paper in the kid’s pocket all the time with info like the kid’s name, contact name (mom or dad), cell phone number. Being nervous, the kid may forget the cell phone number.

    But us parents have to be very careful. Watch for pedofiles and child molesters. We always advice our kids not to accept any sweet or ride (if they say they will take you home from school). For that matter, don’t even make eye contact with any stranger.

  16. Must have been really hard at the time. Good that you taught lil P upfront how to react, and lots of hugs to her for remembering to follow instructions even in such circumstances.

    I love starry’s password idea!

    The first paragraph you’ve written about lil P – that applies word-for-word to my P. So it came as a shock when we couldn’t find him when we went shopping last year around Diwali. We located him after what seemed like an interminably long time – in the kids section where he could reach the hangers, playing among clothes/hangers “just like amma”. At home, I panic everytime he is quiet for more than 2 mins (rare occasions!) – I worry I’ve left the balcony doors open 🙁

    What we do – make sure he knows names, mobile numbers, can dial and speak (just in case something happens at home to the parent-in-charge and he is the only one who can communicate. paranoid – I know. I had electric shock/burns/getting locked in bathroom in mind), complete address. Made the security folks at the apartment ask him and check that he responds coherently. He can understand and speak in English and local language apart from mother tongue ofc. He also knows the mobile number of my friend who lives in the same building. I let him dial these numbers whenever I need to make calls, so he doesn’t forget. S & I make it clear to each other which one of us is responsible for him when we’re in a store or on the road – no assumptions. P has instructions NOT to panic/run if he sees vehicles, he is to stay put – this needed practice. If I am in the trialroom in addition to watching his feet under the door like starry said, I talk to him when I am pulling clothes over my head and can’t see. Hide-and-seek is to be played *only* at home.
    I haven’t told him about strangers/touch yet – since he is already very measured with everyone and doesn’t allow any form of physical contact, I don’t want to complicate things. I do casually ask about being touched in the schoolbus.
    I think it is very important to have precautions and recovery measures in place, but I would still go out together except if its overcrowded.

    Long comment!

  17. This must have been very hard at the time. Good you instructed her and lots of hugs to her for following instructions even in such circumstances.

    The first paragraph you’ve written about lil P, applies word-for-word to my P. So we were shocked when we lost him around the same time last year. Found him after what seemed like a long time, he had wandered off to the kids section, playing among clothes “just like amma” because he could only reach the hangers there! I panic on the rare occasions he is quiet for > 2 mins thinking I’ve left the balcony doors open.

    I love starry’s password idea.

    What we have done-

    Ensure he knows full names, mobile nos, complete address.
    Made security folks in the apartment ask him and check if his response is coherent.
    Speaks English, local lang apart from mother tongue.
    Knows to dial numbers and speak – he knows he is to do this in case something happens at home to the parent-in-charge and he needs to communicate
    Knows the number of my friend who lives in the same building.
    Let him dial these numbers whenever I need to call, so he doesn’t forget.
    In the trial room, watch his feet like starry said. Also, I talk while pulling clothes over my head as I can’t see then. He is to respond verbally and not just nod.
    S & I let each other know who is in charge of him in a store or on the streets, no assumptions.
    No running on seeing vehicles, he is to stay put – needed practice.
    Hide-and-seek only at home!
    I haven’t spoken about strangers and touch yet, he is much too measured as it is with people and doesn’t allow physical contact. I do ask about being touched in the schoolbus.
    We avoid overcrowded places, otherwise we do go out together

    Long comment!

  18. Whoa! Im so glad Lil P was safe. And shes one smart cookie to be so brave and tell her name and her fathers name to someone. Awesome.

    Ashu is exactly like you described Lil P. Even if I let her go, she would nt let me go out of her eye sight. so far so good. but antu is a whole different story. So shes either in the stroller or i hold her hand ALL the time.

    I ve taught Ashu to stay where she is and not to wander around and we ll find her.

    Just stay put!

    Dont go with anyone.

    her jacket has our contact written in the inside. she also knows our contacts.

    But with all this info, shes so scared that she ll get lost that shes extra careful!! 🙂

  19. Thank goodness you found her quickly, hugs to you both! We usually take turns with our shopping when we go together, as in the husband watches over Nikki while I get my stuff and vice versa. And for stuff like groceries we take turns. With Nikki the little spitfire, even this is barely enough, so we always feel like we need an extra pair of eyes growing at the backs of our heads! I think all the stuff that you’re doing is great and that’s why lil P was able to find you guys so fast 🙂

  20. Gosh that was a big nightmare.Good that u taught lil p ur no,i have teach my kids my no,they used to know my old no.

    I always keep my door lock and once it was open pinky was not seen in the house and i went running down for her and she didn’t go out of the gate because she saw dogs.So i keep on telling her if she goes out without me god will send dogs to scare her.

    Hugs to lil p…

  21. That must have been scarry MM. Am glad she’s safe. Mine are older now but I always taught them to go to someone safe like a uniformed guard, or a reliable shop and just call my cell from their phone. That way they don’t panic and hand over my number to random strangers 🙂

  22. Shruthi: As a mom, you did everything right. Teaching lil P to stay clsoe to mom and dad, making her memorise mom and dad’s name and phone number, finding someone and saying and saying I am lost – she is really a bright kid.
    As for doing anything different, whenever I go out where I know it will to crowded, I try to reiterate to my son to stay close to me or his dad, try to take a note of the color of shirt he is wearing and remind his again the names and phone number and address.
    You deserve the credit for doing this so well that lil P remembered to do all the right things.

  23. OMG!big hugs…I have goosebumps and tears in my eyes!
    Well done Li’l P!
    I know about that 5 mins of panick!When Aadya was around 2..she was walking in front of us.I stopped for a minute..and she had disappeared.I was with 2 friends,we all ran around calling her name..she came running to me..it must have been less than 5 mins..but my heart was in my mouth!
    Hugs hugs!!

  24. Hugs Shruti! M glad Lil P was safe and you found her quickly.Your instructions being the best guide to her!
    All this brought back a similar incident a couple of years ago when Ammu went away by herself. It was just a few minutes.. but the anguish was overwhelming.. Thankfully, we’ve been lucky too 🙂
    Thanks for the post.

  25. That must have been scary.yeah like you mentioned lucky that it was closed shopping mall and not the crowded streets.Good thinking from Lil P and good training from you.Will keep this training in mind now that BB is getting bigger and we don’t carry him all the time.
    hugs

  26. @bubble catcher: Yes so so glad it was a closed mall.
    @Priya: Oh dear. Huggs. I still shudder when i think of it.
    @Trish: Clever girl u have. But scary situation if u r out on a open road..
    @Dilse: Yup we are going to have the same drill each time we go out
    @Sands: Thats a good idea. but i’m not sure if people in india will hand their phones to a kid to dial. I’m just happy that shes blurting the numbers. Thanks for the hugs.
    @Sg: I know!!! scary!
    @Shankari: she was all shook up n a lil bit scared. But it was only 5 mins so no lasting damage done.
    @sarita: Hmmm.. But won’t that instill a fear of dogs in her? ?
    @newmomontheblock: U can never predict what kids can do!
    @Boo: Hehe. I believe this incident scared her too and she won’t venture far next time.
    @Arundhati: Those are a lot of good pointers. I think unless we talk to the kids in small doses abt the dangers that such actions pose, they will remain totally fearless.
    @Sandhya: I like it too 🙂 Will get that implemented rt away. and I need to do that talk abt letting me know where she is going at all times. Rt now i don’t let her go on her own. Thanks for the reminder

    @Every1 : thank you all for the lovely tips. I need to talk to her to stay put , the secret password, and identifying gaurds or sales persons at malls. Feeling better equipped.

  27. I think what you did was the perfect thing.
    I remember when my lil cousin who was then only 3-4 yrs old had gotten lost on Chowpatty beach. My aunt and uncle were hysterically running up and down the beach trying to find him. After an hour or so, they were ready to go to the police station. My aunt returned home, and my lil cousin was sitting there waiting for her. It seems, they had made him memorize their home address and phone number only a few days before then, and some kind soul had dropped him home. So you did the right thing Shruti. Happy to know that you found her soon enough.

    HUGS!
    Priyanka

  28. Hello there,

    This is a question for the webmaster/admin here at mindfull-meanderings.blogspot.com.

    May I use part of the information from this post above if I provide a link back to your website?

    Thanks,
    Mark

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