Stay where I can see you….
Picture the scene…. How many times have we bent down to a child and said… “Stay where I can see you” when entering a busy shopping centre, playground or any public place. “Stay where I can see you” — an adult’s go-to mantra to convey to the child that actually there’s a possibility that we might get separated here and I’m telling you this because I don’t want you to get lost. As the adult looking after you, I also really need you to know that I want to keep you safe, that’s my job. Yet if we think about this frequently uttered statement, it makes very little sense. What we are actually doing is giving the child an unrealistic direction that is far too difficult to comprehend. Think about it… how can a small child possibly know what someone else’s eyes can see?
In theory, there’s merit in the concept of “Stay where I can see you” as a way of keeping children in close proximity in busy or crowded public places. But next time, why not try flipping the direction the other way around and explain to the child “It’s busy here today… I don’t want you to get lost…. so, it’s really really important that you stay where YOU can see me”. Makes much more sense, right?
What the child hears…
Now what the child hears is… “if you can’t see mammy, daddy, granny, grandad… you’ve wandered off too far”. The child now has something visibly tangible, and let’s face it, there’s a much better chance of the child keeping you in their vision, rather than trying to imagine or understand what someone else’s eyes can see.
Another Top Tip…
We’ve all been there… standing at the supermarket door or at the playground gates having the important ‘chat’ about staying together when we get inside. Now, along with your new child friendly “stay where YOU can see me” mantra, tell the child that, if on the off chance we do get separated, stay in the shop or playground because I won’t ever leave there until we have found each other.
So, what does this do? This tells the child not to wander much further, that you are still close by and haven’t left, hence minimising the time you are separated and reducing anxieties all round.
By Elaine Fagan of Just Bee Children’s Centre. Find us on facebook @ just bee children’s centre or on twitter @ Justbeecc