What If My Child Got Lost? Questions for Every Parent

Editor’s Note: The following story describes every parent’s worst nightmare: their child is lost, or separated from them. They are alone. We first published this story in July of 2010. In honor of our 5 Year Bloggiversary, we are publishing 5 of our favorite posts – one from each year since the day we started. This is our second “look back” post. Our thanks to Jim Love, a former member of our PedSafe Expert Team, for reminding us to ask the questions that will ensure our kids get help when they need it most.


This past weekend I was out walking my pack o dogs on one of our many trails. We were almost back to the parking lot and let me tell you we were hot. I had some bottles of water for me and a jug of water for Boy sitting in field with bicyclethe dogs. Right where we were to turn off to the parking lot there is a “T”. You could go North or South or to the parking lot. Here at this T junction was a special needs teenager on a adult tricycle looking back and forth, North and South, North and South. I watched for a minute while the dogs panted and waited. I asked him if he needed help and his response was to ask where his Dad was. This young man’s name was Brian. He had passed me about ten minutes earlier and was alone – no one else was with him.

Brian did not know whether to go North or South or which direction he had just come from. On his own he did not know what to do. He did know his Dad’s cell number. Brian did not have a phone but I never go anywhere without mine so we called his Dad. Of course we got voice mail but Brian left a message. We walked/rode to my car and we all had some water. Within about 10 minutes, Dad called back, very worried. Dad did not know the area very well and another hiker and I were able to eventually talk him to where we were. Brian had actually made it quite far – several miles at least.

When Dad along with Mom showed up, one of Mom’s questions was to ask whether or not Brian had asked for help? …whether or not he recognized he was in trouble on his own and asked for help. My answer to Mom that he did not, visibly upset her. Even though this was a minor event that turned out well – I’ve given it quite a lot of thought.

  • When does a child know they are in trouble?
  • When do they know it is time to ask for help?
  • When is a child too young to go off riding on their own or walking to a neighbor?
  • A recent article here on PediatricSafety reminded parents to teach the 911 number to their young children. Along with 911 do our kids know our phone numbers?
  • What is the right age to consider a cell for our kids for emergencies if for no other reason?
  • Do our kids know our real names are not Mom and Dad?
  • Do they know their address?
  • If we are separated from our kids do they know what to do? Do we?

I like to think that I’m a pretty decent guy and I tend to think most people are too. Most – not all – as the headlines remind us. It only takes seconds or minutes for something bad to happen. I realize this asks more questions that it provides answers. I hope others chime in and offer sound advice.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 07-21-2014 to 07-27-2014

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 10 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Child siblings may influence each other’s obesity risk even more than parent’s obesity http://t.co/EbuQQQ5vXz

Tomorrow – July 26th, PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE is Sensory Friendly

Sensory-Friendly-Films-logoOnce a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and with other special needs ”Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings“ – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs Planes - Fire & Rescueand it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden”.

On Saturday July 26th at 10am local time, Planes: Fire & Rescue will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program (although not in 3D for our Sensory Friendly audiences). Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming September 27th: DOLPHIN TALE 2

**************************************************************************************************************************** Editor’s note: Although Planes: Fire & Rescue has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, it has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for action and some peril. As always, please check the IMDB Parent’s Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

Create Accountable, Masterful Children: The Family Coach Method

Editor’s Note: In honor of Pediatric Safety’s 5 year bloggiversary, we are publishing 5 of our favorite posts – one from each year since the day we started – every Thursday over the next five weeks. This is our initial anniversary “look-back” post, and was originally published in September 2009 by Dr Lynne Kenney, a former member of our PedSafe Expert Team. Dr Lynne is a mother of two, a practicing pediatric psychologist, and author of The Family Coach Method. We are proud to have had her as part of the Pediatric Safety family and hope you enjoy the opportunity to read or revisit this excellent post.


The transition from toddler to child is a leap for both of you. As a parent during this time, you go from meeting all your toddler’s needs to helping your 3- to 8-year-old learn to be independent and responsible for herself. This is one of those profound developmental processes that no one really teaches parents how to navigate. But that’s why we’re here now, to help you and your child develop the skills you’ll both need to enter this amazing and challenging time in your lives.

Small steps to wider horizons

When we speak of responsibility and independence, we’re really talking about mastery and accountability. In other kidschoreslink2words, your child is free to wander a little farther away from you at the park because he has mastered the skills required to do that: he stays within bounds, he engages with other children respectfully, and he knows basic concepts of safety. And he has shown you that you can rely on him to do these things as you expect – this is the accountability part. The level of independence you give him, and the accountability you expect in return, will grow as your child grows. Children as young as 3 are beginning to feel their own way in the world, with your guidance.

But how do you introduce independence and responsibility to your children? First, you provide your child with the opportunity to exhibit a greater level of skill than he has previously. You might make the conscious choice to stop picking up your son’s underwear from the bathroom floor and expect him by age 3 or 3 ½ to put them in the laundry basket himself (He’ll feel like such a big boy!). You start to break down specific tasks and activities of daily living and allow your child to do more for himself. These are often small tasks for an adult, but brand new and perhaps even exciting to a child.

As you clean your home or fold the laundry, begin identifying small tasks that you can give your child so that he can feel more sense of accomplishment and mastery. Don’t worry too much if she gets it wrong at first – he will master his new skill quickly.

If you haven’t already noticed, your 3-year-old is capable of several chores around the house. She can pull up the covers on her bed, pick up toys and put them in the toy bins, take her laundry to the laundry room, pour water for the family dog, wipe up his messes with a paper towel and even help you dust. Watch the transformation from toddler to skillful 3-year-old as your child proudly helps you and herself.

Example: When your 3-year-old asks for milk, you say, “Let’s look on your shelf in the ‘fridge. Do you see it there?” Voilá! Before your child, right at eye level, is his cup of milk, pre-made (of course you were ready for the request!). “You can take it and drink it.” In this simple scenario, your child now experiences pride at being able to do this on his own for the first time.

By the time a child is 5, he is ready to hear, “You are really growing up. You want to do many things like play at the park, ride your bike on your own, and stay up later. You may be ready to do those things, but with independence comes responsibility.” These are big concepts for a child, but ones which they are primed for and often quite ready to understand. It happens with small steps.

Your 8-year-old has better dexterity, is taller and can think through tasks better than a 3-year-old. He can help you fold laundry and put it away in open drawers. He can set the table, clear the table and he may even love vacuuming. Your job is providing the opportunity to complete these tasks, but his experience will develop solid skills for a lifetime. As always, don’t expect perfection and give credit for a thoughtful effort.

* TIP: If you want to suggest improvement, frame it in the language of success: “You did a great job folding those shirts! Would you like to see a little trick for making it even easier?”

Independence and responsibility go hand in hand

With the independence of sleeping in a “big girl” bed comes the responsibility of making the bed each morning. With the independence of taking the school bus comes the responsibility of placing homework, lunch and permission slips in the backpack, then leaving it in “ready-to-go” position at the back door. With the independence of watching television one hour a day comes the responsibility of making sure homework is completed before the television is turned on. See how this goes?

When you tie independence to responsibility early in life, good habits that foster responsible independence become the norm.

Teaching your children this relationship early will lead to children who place their clothing in the hamper and not on the floor, teens who clean up their fast food when they return the car, and college students who always finish their studies before going out at night with their friends. As in adulthood, independence and freedom must co-exist with responsibility.

Demonstrate this now and your children will understand it forever. Responsibility may not be the message they’re getting from the popular culture around them, but it’s the message they’re now getting from their family culture…and you’re taking the proactive measures to establish your family culture strongly in your children’s minds and hearts. Is it worth the effort? You bet it is!


The Family Coach Definition: Task Demand

(n.) A task demand is a set of expectations that require a certain level of skill to complete. The task demand is what is required of you to complete an action. The skill is what is needed to meet the requirement. Examples of task demands would be: 1) being required to wait to walk out the door, when you are really excited and your parent tells you, “Wait until I say you may go outside.” 2) being required to put your hands in your pockets before you get near a brand new baby. 3) needing to hold a pencil correctly in order to write your name. 4) needing to shift one’s attention from the television to the parent, when the parent says, “Turn off the TV.”


familycoach-book-smaller*Note: this post is an excerpt from Dr Kenney’s book “The Family Coach Method”. The Family Coach Method is ‘rug-level,’ friendly and centered on the concept of families as a winning team – with dozens of age-appropriate sample conversations and problem solving scenarios to guide a family to the desired place of mutual respect, shared values and strengths. The goal is to help children to develop the life skills, judgment and independence that can help them navigate the challenges of an increasingly complex world.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 07-14-2014 to 07-20-2014

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
99 texting acronyms and phrases used by teens & tweens http://t.co/QM8y8Rgqxs
Parents you’re going to want to read and keep a copy of this

Special Things for Special Kids, Part I

SentioChewsEvery parent/caregiver has their own list of tools that have helped them get through the tough times. Not all tools work for every kid, so we parents/caregivers of kids with special needs have probably filled storage bins with products that we rate as a fail. We also flushed away lots of money on these alleged miracle products that were going to be our solution to a specific problem. Allow me to share with you some of the things that have worked for my family and friends. Of course, this is not a guarantee that they will work for you, but I truly hope they will make your day easier and happier in some way.

Michel Mercier Detangling Brush

My daughter wants to have long, beautiful hair like her friends…but she HATES to have her hair brushed or combed. She also likes to tumble and roll back and forth on my bed, roll in circles in the grass and flip around in all directions on the trampoline. This results on more than just knots, she gets thick matted hair like she’s growing dreds. Since she is unable to bear it when we try to brush them out we have resorted to keeping her hair short most of her life, but as she gets older growing her hair long seems to be more of a priority to her. Out of desperation we tried the As-Seen-On-TV Michel Mercier Detangling Brush which is available for different hair types. We still have to hold the hair at the roots so it doesn’t pull on her scalp, but so far this seems to be a great solution to our dilemma – and her hair has never looked more beautiful!!

Sham Wow

Shamwow2My child with special needs tends to spill things a lot. Most kids and toddlers do, so I know I am not alone in my recurring need to frantically grab something that will soak up wetness quickly. My article “How The Sham Wow Saved My Daughter’s Rug” appeared on Yahoo Voices years ago, and I still use the cloths from that same pack just about every day. My child actually feels horrible when she drops something or knocks something over, but she knows that the bright orange towels will clean it up and make everything alright. I love watching her independently find one and try to mop up the mess before she is even told to do it. No, it’s not going to get blood out of a white shag rug…but if you need to get blood out of a white shag rug then you probably have bigger issues than stain removal on your mind. And I don’t mean redecorating.

Sentio Chews Chewable Jewelry

Whether you have a teether in the house or just a kid who likes to chew, Sentio’s chewable jewelry may save your child’s pencils and clothes from getting gnawed – as well as provide some much-needed stress relief and sensory input. Sentio Chews are hardy, thick PVC-free medical grade material that is very durable. The necklaces come in fun shapes and colors, and there are lots of other items on the site. There is also a subscription service so never have to be without a fresh new item when one wears out or is bitten one time too many. You may have read my review of the improved Sentio Chews on Examiner called Chew on This!

Earthcalm Home Protection System

A child in school with my son is very sensitive to EMF. Her family noticed how using the microwave always agitated the child, who also struggles with health issues and autism. The family got this system and now they are free to use the microwave without any repercussions. The other family members even felt the difference once the system was in place. I haven’t used it myself, but if this is an issue for your child or your family you can do some research and decide for yourself if it or any of their other products might improve your home.

I will continue this list as I find items that help us in our journey. Got a favorite gadget? Let us know about it in the comments below!

DISCLAIMER: I have included links for your convenience. Some of them are affiliate links, fyi.