Michele Welsh is a mom of three, including 7 year old twin boys! Together with her husband Bob, she founded SafetyTat, a great tool for helping parents of small children keep their little ones safe when out in public. Safety Tat is a temporary tattoo which can be pre-printed, or written on, with any information you choose including phone number, health information, etc, in case a child get lost. Michele was kind enough to share some tip with us today on keeping our kids safe and sound (and with us!) while out and about.
M: Theme parks are such great safe places to make happy, lasting memories for your family. A few tips can help everyone stay connected, but also, can provide confidence in knowing just and knowing what to do if separated.
First, dress your children in brightly colored, easily identifiable clothing. My favorite: Orange. It’s bright and not a common color. They will definitely stand out.
Second, take a photo of each child with your camera or mobile phone the morning of your trip. This way you can show someone exactly how your child looks on that day should you become separated.
Third, talk to your child before you arrive at the theme park about what to do should you become separated. It’s important to be reassuring: Let your child know you will watch him very carefully, and IF there is a moment he can’t see you, stay put. Then find another “Mommy” to help. If your child is wearing a SafetyTat, make sure she knows its purpose. It delights me how many stories we receive that parents who report their children do not panic if separated from them. With SafetyTat they know just what to do and that the little tattoo on their arm is a fast way back to Mommy or Daddy.
Last, be sure to compliment your child throughout the day for staying close to you. And celebrate when reunited with your child. Positive reinforcement works wonders.
L: Besides reporting the child lost, are there any specific actions that a parent can take when a child goes missing to find them as soon as possible?
M: Yes. First is best to tell a staff member or other authority. Most of them have procedures to help return lost kids.
Next: think like a kid. He may not even realize he’s lost. Look for the most “exciting” thing near where you were separated. Chances are he’s there. When we were separated from my son two years ago, he was simply watching the surfing simulator at the water park. He got great surfing tips. I aged ten years in five minutes.
L: What is the most common place for a child to get lost?
M: Statistically, according to the Center to Prevent Lost Children, children are lost most often in malls and stores. Also according to the CPLC, a staggering 90% of us will experience losing a child in a public place.
Children see the world as a sea of legs from two and a half feet off the ground. They become lost from following the wrong set! TIP: put something distinctive on your shoe, sock or skin at child-eye-view, like a picture or sticker or colorful safety pin. This will help your child keep track of YOU.
L: What should we teach our kids to do if they get lost?
M: Stay put. Children become “more lost” when they panic and run. Staying in one spot makes them easier to find. Then find a “Mommy” or staff member/authority to help.
L: Why is it a bad idea to pin or write your child’s name on his or her clothing? What makes SafetyTat a better alternative?
M: You never want anyone to know your child’s name to potentially start a conversation with them. Calling them by name makes an unknown person appear more like a friend to your child.
By simply displaying only your mobile phone number on a SafetyTat, no one can gather any personal information about your child or your family. And remember, do not display your home address or home phone number.
L: A lot of us struggle with the idea of using child harnesses; while they are admittedly unappealing, they do serve a purpose when there are several small children and only one adult. Do you have any tips for teaching our kids to hold hands, and stay with us?
M: Here’s what works for our family: make it a game. Games are a great way to keep kids engaged and happy. We play “Mama Duck” where my kids all follow me and quack (Inspired by the book “Come Along, Daisey”). It’s actually pretty hilarious. Also, the “You Can’t Get My Finger” game is a big hit. I hold my finger just above their reach, and challenge them to grab it. Once they do, they hold on extra tight to remind me they won the game! Also, as stated above, be sure to compliment your child throughout the day for staying close to you.
L: Is it helpful to dress the whole family in the same color when going to a crowded area?
M: Yes. A bit dorky, but yes. I lost my cool factor years ago anyway. LOL.
L: At what age do you think it is safe to allow a child to use a public restroom alone, or go into a shop alone?
M: I’m not sure about that one. My kids aren’t there yet. They’re 6, 7 and 7. My two boys still go in the restroom with me, although they’re quite good now and keeping their gaze down toward the floor to be polite. My husband and I allow our children to be independent whenever possible. This teaches them confidence, empowerment and absolute pride in themselves. Levels of independence should be granted by the parent considering the child’s age, maturity, ability to make decisions, and courage to speak directly to a stranger and say “NO” without hesitation.
L: How did you come up with the idea for SafetyTat? How has the response been so far?
M: I came up with the idea of SafetyTat while visiting a crowded theme park with my husband and three small children. Feeling overwhelmed by the kids’ excitement, we nearly left. Instead, I pulled a pen from my purse and wrote my mobile phone number on each of the kids arms. I explained to them if we got separated, this was a way to get them back to Daddy and me quickly.
Throughout the day other parents stopped us to compliment our resourcefulness. The trip was a success, and the idea for SafetyTat was born. I originally created SafetyTat to make OUR life less stressful and coincidentally discovered a much needed market segment. I founded SafetyTat almost two years ago and have become the nation’s leading and most trusted retailer of child safety temporary tattoos and have sold products worldwide, in 140 countries! We also invented the world’s first and only (patent pending) line of ultra-convenient waterless Quick Stick Write-on tattoos. Simply peel and stick! All in our mission to help make parents’ jobs a little easier.
SafetyTat has been able to help thousands of parents stay connected with their kids. I have loved every minute in both creating this company and the incredibly rewarding feeling of helping other parents and caregivers.