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Thursday, February 13, 2014

How to keep your child safe in a parking lot & other places - Advice from my mother...

If you've ever read the "About Me" section on the side of my blog, you'll know that my mom has nine kids. That's right. Nine. She has been an invaluable wealth of knowledge not only to me, but to all sorts of moms for as long as I can remember.

That's why when I have a child-related problem, the first source I go to is my mom. Kids are tricky little people... one minute, you've got them all figured out. They are only too glad to hold your hand and teeter next to you through stores, malls, parking lots and amusement parks. But then that funny thing happens where suddenly the world is a little wider for them and they want to do absolutely everything on their own. And that includes walking around without the hand-holding.

How to keep your child safe
"I can carry it."
So how do you get them to stay dutifully (and safely) beside you when you're out and about? You could go for a child-leash of course... (I actually considered one myself for a while but decided against it in the end.) ...but I decided instead to take a page from my mom's book and make my little guy feel the need to stay next to me instead.

Because I knew we were going to be doing some heavy Saturday shopping today, I decided that this was as good a time as any to try this little trick out.

Lately he's refused to hold my hand in several places, and more often than not he feels the need to walk three feet ahead of me in a parking lot. Not a mother's best situation when she's got her hands full.

So today when I was packing up our stuff to leave the house, I made the diaper bag a little heavier than usual. I put in some juice packs for weight, (a water bottle or two will work just as well) and headed out the door with my two kids in tow.

How to keep your child from running off
"No really, I can carry it myself!"
As we got out at the first store, sure enough my son stepped a few feet away almost as soon as I opened his door. But instead of telling him (several times) to 'please come back', I lifted the diaper bag out of the car and dramatically dropped it on the ground.

"Ohhh," I exaggerated, "This bag is sooo heavy. Will you carry it for me?" He puffed up with self-importance. There are few things my son loves more than showing how strong and helpful he is.

"I can do it!" he said. He snatched the bag up. I watched with a secret smile on my face as he struggled to carry the bag, unable to take off running because of the weight. He walked slowly beside me. And then the important part happened, just like I'd seen it happen with my mom and us kids before.

Suddenly he paused beside me with the bag still in hand, "Mommy, you take it. It's just heavy."

My kid won't hold my hand
"Okay, maybe you can help me, mom."
I looked at him with mock-surprise on my face, "Okay! How about you help me?" We walked the rest of the way into the store, each "holding" a handle. Truthfully, I was carrying the weight of the bag, but as soon as he started to look interested in letting go, I would put a little more weight on his end and remark on how strong he was.

When we left the store, I flumped the bag on the ground again, pushing the cart with one hand and holding the diaper bag strap with the other, "I need help!" I told him. Once again he came to my rescue and "helped" me carry the bag out to the car.

He did this in and out of four more parking lots, the mall, and the checkout lane at the grocery store. Not once did he complain about being made to stand next to me, not once did he complain about having to help. I made him my little hero, praised him for doing such a good job, and let him feel important when other ladies told him what a good boy he was being to help his mommy. He felt independent and I felt relieved.

Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope it takes a long while before he hits the too-cool-to-help-out age!


  1. What a great idea. I never would of thought of something like that. I have a little grandson who is at that age of wanting to do things for himself but loves helping others too. I think this would work perfect for him.

    1. I found out last night that it works nicely with the shopping baskets in grocery stores too! You'll have to let me know how it works out with your grandson!