Every parent's nightmare. You're walking through a crowded public place; maybe the mall, an amusement park, or the airport – when suddenly you look around and your young child is no where to be found. Maybe you paused to look at a magazine or something else, and in the blink of an eye, they're no longer next to you. Instant panic. Immediately, you shout out your child's name but get no response. The next few minutes feel like an eternity and you hope and pray that: A) Your child is simply wandering around nearby and B) Your child will remember what you've taught them to do if you ever get separated like this.
And almost as quickly as they disappeared, suddenly they reappear… smiling, and racing back to you, while being escorted by another mom with her own children in tow. After profusely thanking this person for their help, you look at your kid and aren't sure whether to scream, cry, or just hug them and never let go. Maybe you do all three. And then you realize: my kid did it right. He did what we taught him:
IF YOU EVER GET LOST IN A PUBLIC PLACE, ASK ANOTHER MOM WITH KIDS FOR HELP.
Statistically, a mom with kids is the least risky person for your child to approach if they are ever lost, scared, or need some kind of assistance. This doesn't mean that a "dad with kids" isn't safe. It's just that if we're going strictly by the stats, a mom with kids is the least likely person to harm a child. It's highly unlikely that a mom with kids is a child predator. And, when we're out and about, it seems there's always another mom with kids around… good, practical advice for a young child who's lost.
But what do you do if the situation is reversed? Your child isn't the one who's lost, but another child approaches YOU because they're lost. What's the right thing to do?
The main thing is to stay calm, reassure the child that they'll be reunited with their parent soon, and do not leave them alone until they are. Word to the wise: if you take the child to the front of the store or to a security desk, do not leave them there assuming that security is now going to handle the situation. You just never know.
Remember, a lost child is most likely scared and having another mom help in this kind of emergency can be very reassuring. At the risk of sounding oh-so-cliché… it does a take a village!