Parenting is challenging, and one of the biggest challenges parents face is addressing safety in public spaces. From crowded events to interactions with strangers, there are many situations that can cause anxiety for a parent. Teaching children how to stay safe in a public space and creating a game plan before leaving the house can help ensure that family outings go smoothly.

These are some of the important areas to cover with your children.

Crowds and Public Places

Take pictures: Will you be able to remember what your child was wearing in the event that you lose them in a crowd? Take pictures before you head out so you have a concrete image of what they look like.

Be visible for them: Can your child see you? Instead of saying “stay where I can see you,” try “stay where you can see me” instead. Children probably don’t have any idea what you can see, but making them accountable will help to keep them close.

Establish a meeting place: In the event that you do get separated, plan a meeting place that’s easy to see and get to. Walk there with your children so they know how to get there and what it looks like.

And, as always, don’t leave children unsupervised.

Strangers

Tricky people: “Stranger danger” used to be a popular strategy for teaching children about safety around unknown people, but it can be hard for kids to interpret what a “stranger” is. Instead, introduce them to the concept of “tricky people”: not all strangers are dangerous, and not all dangerous people look or act scary, so guide your children to look out for people asking them to do something that doesn’t sound right. If an adult needs help with something, they will ask for help from another adult, not a child.

Trusted adults: When you’re out in public, point out adults that your children can go to if they get lost, such as people with name tags and uniformed workers. Teach your children their first and last names as well as yours and your family phone number so they can give this information to employees.

Communication and supervision are the best ways to prevent dangers, but educating your children on what to do in the event that they get lost or have an interaction with a stranger will help them stay safe.

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