When you have children who are new to walking, getting things out of a car while in a parking lot can be a nerve-wracking experience: you know that your kid is capable of walking in any direction, and also that they’re not really aware of the dangers a parking lot can contain.
Following the philosophy of “don’t baby-proof the environment, make the baby proof for the environment”, we had two parking lot rules that worked out pretty well, used for different stages of development.
- Hand on the car. When out of the car, one of the child’s hands must always be touching the car unless a parent is holding their hand. This sets a bound on how far away they can get from you.
- Feet on the yellow line. The lines separating parking spaces are treated as if they’re balance beams. The child can walk along the line, but not step off of it, unless a parent is holding their hand. This keeps the child between cars and away from the flow of traffic.
Obviously, these require training periods, and during that training you have to keep an eagle eye on the kid. And of course you can’t rely on these rules to keep your children completely safe in a parking lot — only you can do that. In our experience, though, it greatly reduced our stress levels even in busy Christmas-time lots; plus, it was another way to stress the importance of both safety and obedience.