Lost generation


Parents admit they have 'lost' their child five times, before they reach the age of 10 in a new survey from kids' smartwatch, NickWatch. And 1 in 5 parents say their child has walked off with a stranger before highlighting the need to prepare kids for moments where they could be on their own.

Parenting expert Rachel Fitz-D offers some advice for keeping kids safe ahead of the long summer break:

Support kids to become confident talking to strangers

Yes, that’s right. Teaching children to ‘never talk to strangers’ simply doesn’t keep them safe when they need help and, in any case, they see adults talking to strangers every day in shops and on buses. By getting even the youngest children to become confident at spotting and asking shop assistants for help, asking another mum to zip up their coat for them after school and taking responsibility for telling the doctor themselves ‘where it hurts’, kids learn to seek help when they need it and you aren’t around.

Discuss the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ strangers

Alongside encouraging your child to become comfortable talking to people they don’t know, help them to spot people who may or may not be ‘safe’ strangers to approach if they are ever split up from you. Shop and cafe assistants, women with children and police officers are all good options. Remind them to look for help in public places rather than where they are unlikely to be seen and support them to learn to trust their own instincts. ­ If they feel something or someone is strange they should get away and look for help as fast as possible.

Ask kids for their strategies

Children, just like us, prefer to come up with their own solutions. They are more likely to remember their own, kid-shaped scheme for staying safe than your clever clogs grown-up one! Help to build their self-esteem and declare your faith in their resourcefulness by asking them for their ideas of what they could do in any given situation: ’If we get split up in this shop, what could you do?' and have a look around. 'Who could you run to if you needed help and I wasn’t here?’ Keep the conversation chatty and remember that a confident child will be more able to think straight and keep safe than one who is scared of their own shadow and looks vulnerable.

Visit www.nickwatch.com