by Tracy Lamperti, LMHC, BCETS
It is absolutely true; I lost my child once! We were at Windmill Weekend. It was a big anniversary year and busier than I have ever seen it! After the parade, on the Windmill Green, it was gridlock. There was no moving unless the crowd moved. The crowd finally moved. My newborn was in her Baby Jogger and I did not have my 5 ½ year old by the hand. I moved and my son did not. Within seconds, we were like countries apart, even though we were surely not more than 50 yards apart and may have only been 5 tall people apart. But he was gone and it was so noisy that even putting out a call over the loud speaker wasn’t heard by many. Yes, after about 10
harrowing minutes, we were finally reunited.
Every parent knows that accidents happen, even to “good” parents. Whistles are fun and we can empower our children with whistles in two ways.
1. Give your child a whistle that they can role play with. Here are the rules: they tell you (or ask you) that they would like to use the whistle to be referee at the backyard ballgame or backyard traffic cop scene; if the timing is right (neighbors would probably appreciate that you not release the whistle to your child at 5 AM) you give them the whistle and let them play. Explain that they will not be blowing the whistle as loud as they can (as it just isn’t fair to neighbors or friends at the park) but they can use the whistle for the stated purpose of play. They get practice using the whistle for a purpose.
2. Give your child a whistle to wear, at the beach, at a local busy event (like Windmill Weekend, the beach or at Disney World) and tell them that the whistle is their emergency tool in the event that you get separated.
Explain that getting separated is a serious matter and the whistle can be used for serious matters like getting separated. The international distress signal is 3 brief blasts. Explain this to your child and have them practice at home. It is ok to make these blasts as loud as they can and it is good to have them hold their ears while they blow. Explain that if someone asks why they are blowing the whistle, that they say, I am separated from my mom (or grandma….) and I am supposed to stay right here so my mom can follow the whistle sounds. In all likelihood, you are very close and can come very quickly. You will be the mom running toward the whistle :) ! You can explain to your child that if something happens, for example, at the park, that makes them feel uncomfortable, and they can’t get your attention easily, they can blow the whistle. Reinforce that at these times that they have been given the whistle, it is a tool and not a toy. Mark my word, a potential predator is not going to mess with a child with a whistle. Especially a child who blows the whistle when they look up and don’t see their mom.
Please see www.tracylamperti.com for more information about working with children and families or specifically about sexual abuse.
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