Lost at Walmart

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with some friends about child safety and we got on the topic of what to teach our children to do if they find themselves lost at Walmart or another such store (note: we were talking about children who do not yet have cell phones). I had some ideas but I needed some clarity, so I did a bit of research and this is what I found.

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  • The first thing they should do is to remain calm, stop and look around…often, the person they’re looking for is close-by or will return to where they last saw them, so a child’s best bet is to initially stay where they are.
  • Next, they should call out the real name of the person they are looking for (i.e. “Mommy” may not be as effective for getting their mother’s attention as “Cindy Johnson”).
  • Still no luck? They should enlist the help of a nearby woman with children (this is generally a child’s safest and best bet for assistance) and ask if she could call their ‘missing’ parent’s cell phone.


Be sure to instruct your child to NEVER LEAVE THE PUBLIC AREA with a stranger, even if the person insists that they are trying to help them or that their parent is hurt.  Talk about these strategies with your children today and help keep them safe!

For more tips on what to teach your children to do if they get lost, check out this great article from Parents magazine http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/social/child-gets-lost/?page=5.

If you’re interested in teaching your children how to keep themselves safe, you may wish to read my posts on Preventing and treating frostbite, Thunderstorm safety and Bike Safety Rules.




Stress free homework

The sooner your kids start taking responsibility for their own ‘school work’ (be it homework, exams or projects), the more calm and peaceful your household will be.  Like most parents, I’m guessing that you have a tough time imagining a life of ‘stress free homework’, but it sure seems like a lovely fantasy, doesn’t it?!

My daughter is a pretty independent person and prefers to do things on her own (read “without my interference”).   Last school year, her teacher expected that parents check the homework and ensure that learning was taking place (truthfully, there were many days that I had to ‘re-learn’ even basic concepts, before I could hope to help my daughter).  Needless to say, there were a lot of battles.

This year started out the same way, with any attempts I made to “check” my daughter’s work being met with exaggerated eye-rolling and lack of cooperation (to put it mildly).  However, I decided to try something different this time.  Since she was taking responsibility for getting her homework done without any prompting from me, I decided to take a step back and let her fully take control (I let her know, however, that I would always be available if she has a question).

I’m not going to lie…it was hard to surrender control, and I worried that her grades may not be quite as good as they would have been if I was ‘helping’ her, but it was time for me to let go (of course, I still monitor the situation to see if there are any issues).  Once I let go, it felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off my shoulders and the relationship between my daughter and I vastly improved (no more ‘battle of wills’…well, not about homework, anyway).

I realize that not every child is ready to take on this responsibility (I had worked with my daughter on basic study habits for several years beforehand, so she was pretty prepared).  In addition, I knew that my job wasn’t exactly ‘done’…if she didn’t learn in school the more advanced study skills she would be needing (e.g. planning out a project, conducting research, etc.), I would have to provide her with these skills, too.  Still, it was a start.  The next time I met with her teacher, I mentioned that I was ‘handing over the reigns’ (I wanted her to know that work would not be checked when it came back to school the next day) and she felt that my daughter could handle it.

Let’s face it, we probably don’t do our children any favors when we protect them from taking responsibility for themselves.   Truth is, often we are helping them for the wrong reasons…because we are afraid that they will not do well and it will reflect poorly on us (I definitely wanted my daughter to do well in school for her sake, but I will also admit that I felt that I would be judged if her grades weren’t good).

When my daughter disappears into her room to study for her math test, there is still a part of me that wants to make sure she is studying “correctly” (old habits die hard), but I do my best to keep my mouth shut as she heads down the hallway.  It’s true…she may not end up doing quite as well as if I were ‘helping’ her study, but she will learn from her mistakes and learn how to stand on her own two feet.  And, after all, isn’t this ultimately what we all want for our children?

Teach your kids to take responsibility now and their future academic, personal and professional lives will surely benefit!

If you’re interested in teaching your children to take responsibility for themselves, you may also wish to read my posts on “Teaching Responsibility at home: Implementing an after-school routine”, Goal Setting” and “Preventing and treating frostbite“.

Stop the bleeding from minor cuts and scrapes

Your child has fallen off his bike again (it could have something to do with that homemade ramp he and his friends constructed in the driveway). He has a cut on his knee that is bleeding and in need of attention, so why not teach him what to do to stop the flow of blood.

The first thing he should do, after washing his hands, is to remove any obvious debris in the wound.  Once this is done, he can get to work to stop the bleeding.  The body has an amazing way of protecting itself from losing too much blood.  If the blood is slowed down, it will eventually ‘clot’, which acts as a sort of ‘plug’ to fully stop the blood flow and start the healing process.

The best way to slow down the flow of blood is by using gauze or a terrycloth towel to apply steady and direct pressure to the wound for approximately 10-15 minutes.  Be careful not to pull off the gauze or towel before bleeding has fully stopped, as this can trigger the flow of blood again.

When possible, applying pressure while elevating the abrasion (i.e. holding it above heart level to take advantage of gravity and slow down the flow of blood)  can also help stop the bleeding.  To further slow down the flow of blood, try applying pressure to various ‘pressure points’, as outlined in this article  http://firstaid.about.com/od/bleedingcontrol/ss/bleedingsteps_3.htm (note: this technique is likely too advanced for children, but I thought some parents might be interested).

Your son may wish to put a Band-Aid on the abrasion to protect the wound from dirt, germs and other things that may cause it to become infected.  However, very soon, a scab will form over the wound to protect it, as well as the new skin growing underneath, and a band-aid may no longer be necessary.  He should try his best to avoid picking off the scab (having said that, this seems to require an almost-Herculean effort for kids), as this may lead to a longer healing time, or a scar.  Simply let the scab fall off on its own, once the new skin is ready.

For more detailed information about the clotting process, as well as additional steps that can be taken to look after minor cuts and scrapes, check out the following resources (note: these sites were also instrumental in the writing of this post).


If you’re interested in learning how to teach your children how to keep themselves safe, you may also wish to read my posts on Giving Medication, Bike Safety and YouTube Safety.