Stop your tot from running off in public!

Wise up to nine strategies to avoid losing your kid in large crowds and public spaces…


As soon as your baby arrives, his or her safety becomes your utmost priority.

You worry about him falling, hitting his head, hurting himself, and every parents’ nightmare ― that he would get into an accident, or even go missing.

And toddlers, being the inquisitive young human beings that they are, are always courting danger, especially when they are left to their own devices for a split second.

Educational and developmental psychologist Dr Penny Tok explains that it is in the nature of toddlers to want to explore, since everything is new and exciting to them. “They are still egocentric in their view of things, and often do not realise that they are moving too far from their parents,” she says.


It is in the nature of toddlers to want to explore, since everything is new and exciting to them.


In addition, some do it for the thrill of being chased, while others do it purely for fun, as they love the engagement and fun it brings. “Some toddlers simply have their own agenda and want to fulfil them, so they wander off wherever they want to!” Dr Tok adds.

Mum of three, Dawn Wong, is quite familiar with this. Her second son, James, was 3 when she almost lost him in a public space, “I was getting his sister to try on some shoes at the department store, and I told him to stay close to us. I must have been distracted for a couple of minutes and then I realised he wasn’t near us.” With the help of the store manager, she later found him “one floor up”, at the toy section.

Horrified that he had managed to go up the escalator on his own, she vowed to keep a closer eye on her kids and sets ground rules for them when they go out.

Dr Tok notes that toddlers often do not realise or anticipate potential dangers, such as from an escalator. “Their brains are still developing, so they tend to be more impulsive and can’t think too many steps ahead,” she says.

Plus, they may not be able to handle big emotions, and they react in big ways, like running away, when they aren’t able to rationalise well in certain situations. “It’s not too different from an adult who is emotionally overwhelmed, or teenagers who engage in risky behaviour,” Dr Tok explains.