1. Keep your child in sight and reach
Kidnapping is rare in Singapore, but keeping a close eye on your children is still important outdoors. Compared to familiar territory like your home, a new environment that isn’t tailored for kids means less security and safety. Most of the furniture at shopping malls, for instance, aren’t child-proof, and can injure your children if not careful enough.
Perhaps you may even want to keep your children within reach. Even though ‘hovering’ is frowned upon by many, having your children close by you can sometimes mean having less distance to bridge if you want to pull them out of a dangerous situation. This also equates to more reaction time.
2. Hold your child's hand
This goes without saying if you’re moving through a crowd, but we do let our guard down when they’re in sight. It’s not necessary to bind them by hand all the time, but if your child is active, it may be better for you to hold on to them as you go about your shopping. Keep in mind that children have a lot of energy and can sometimes be faster than you think!
Holding hands links you to your child, so you can’t leave without the other. This means it will be harder for your child to stray away from you without breaking the link and you noticing.
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3. Keep your child occupied
Many accidents happen because the person is distracted and isn’t aware of the risks involved. Young children take some time to develop a good sense of assessing danger, so it’s best to keep them out of unplanned situations when you can. You can do this by simply keeping them engaged by constantly interacting with them or keeping them occupied with a toy or a book.
Keeping your children distracted with things they should rightfully pay attention to limits outside distractions that can cause them to wander. Definitely, exploration is crucial to a child’s learning – but one should always do it within the confines of safety, such as by doing it with you.
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4. Lay ground rules
Giving your child a talk on what to do and what not to do can help minimise unforeseen situations. This helps especially when you enter a new environment that your child was not exposed to before. For example, children tend to get excited entering a toy store, and can end up separating from you easily. Such stores also have complicated layouts with many aisles, making it hard for you to find your child once you’ve turned your back.
Telling your children prior to entering the store can help them to have fun while keeping safe. This could work, such as by getting them to inform you if they want to go somewhere else, or by asking them to stay within the same zone.