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  • Writer's pictureAndy Murphy

How to Keep Your Child Safe in Public On Your Own

Protecting Your Kids On Your Own

I had a great question from a mom about a situation she was concerned about when she felt threatened with her kids. I appreciate her sharing her story with me and she’s okay and shd did a good job protecting her family. But she asked if she had any advice for parents who are on their own.

No matter what your living situation is at some point we’ll all have our kids with us and flying solo. And while it’s better to have more adults with you to see potential trouble and help get kids out of danger, it’s not always possible. So we need to be ready to act on our own.

Talk To Your Kids

I feel the first thing you need to do to be successful as a protector parent is to level with your kids about the dangers that you face as a family. This does not mean that you explain serial killers to a 2-year-old.

What it does mean is that you share the security concerns that your kids can mentally and emotionally be ready for depending on their stage of life. I share this in more detail in my course, UNLOCKED.

Remember that part of being a protector parent is not raising a victim.

At some point, our kids will leave our homes and live on their own and we want them to do so safely. So bringing them along a bit at a time will be helpful to you as you take them out in public and as they grow up. Plus, this way you can make safety a family priority and everyone has their job.

I suggest that you keep it simple. For example, let’s say you have two kids ages 5 and 8 out with you at the grocery store. You share with them that while you load the car, they have assignments and that is to get themselves into the car and get buckled up while you unload the cart.

Explain to them that when families are getting into and out of a car, bad guys can be in the parking lot to take their stuff if they don’t pay attention. Assure them that it’s not a given that bad guys are in every parking lot, but that you need to be safe all the time.

And keep it in terms of ‘bad guys’, kids books and shows always demonstrate what good guys and bad guys are. No need to take this further. This way you can count on your kids getting into their seats, you unload the cart and when you get in, you double-check their seats to make sure they’re ready to go. Then praise them for doing a good job.

When you do this, you make yourself a team. You bring them in on what’s going on in the world and that you need to work together to be sure that everyone is safe and happy. Kids will get this concept.

Minimize Distractions

Another tip for solo parenting in public is to minimize distractions. Shopping is distracting enough. But when you add a kid to the equation, you’re going to be very distracted.

Not long ago I saw a police officer taking statements at a store. From what I gathered, someone had taken something from this lady’s purse while she was shopping. This can happen easily. While you’re picking the right size pants for your toddler, a thief comes quietly by and snags a phone out of your bag and you don’t even see it.

So for the protector moms. If you have a small child that requires a diaper bag when going out, add you're essential items to that diaper bag. That means your phone, wallet, and maybe an EpiPen if you need one.

Many times purses in carts are an easy target for pickpockets. You’d be amazed at the accuracy of these thieves who can reach into a bag and walk away with a phone or wallet. By putting your wallet and phone in the diaper bag and putting them into the bottom of your cart, you change the game.

Is it harder to fish out your card or phone to pay? Yes, and that’s the point. Diaper bags are harder to navigate if the thief can’t see inside. Keep in mind that thieves in the store don’t want your whole bag because that’s hard to hide. They want a high-value item inside.

Stay Focused

When you are out with your kids mind your focus. When eating out, shopping, or running errands you must have a clarity of focus. If you take your kids out to eat your focus needs to be on three things.

First, make sure that everyone is eating. After all, that’s why you’re there. Second, make sure they are behaving and are doing well. Last, but not least keep tabs on what’s going on around you. This is being aware of your surroundings to spot potential problems. It could be a fight between two guys in the kitchen, a fire, or someone who wants to hurt you.

So what this means is that you are not on your phone, you are not checking out the Kia Carnival in the parking lot, or letting your kids run wild. Keep rotating through those areas of focus to ensure that everyone is safe and having a good time.

Stick Together

When solo parenting with kids in public, stick together. If it’s Target or the mall, everyone stays together. That way if something goes wrong, like there’s a fire, then you have all of your kids with you and you don’t have to worry about where they are. That way you can all move together to the nearest exit and get out.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about what any kids away from you are doing, and that will keep your mind focused on what you have to do.

Being safe while solo parenting requires a lot from you. In these situations, you are the source of authority and safety. Be confident and your kids will see it and find safety in that. To provide emotional and physical security to your kids you have to be committed.


Andy Murphy

Andy Murphy founded The Secure Dad in 2016 with the aspiration to help families live safer, happier lives. What started as a personal blog about family safety has turned into an award-winning podcast, an Amazon best-selling book, and online courses. He focuses his efforts in the areas of home security, situational awareness, and online safety.


Andy is a husband and father. His interests include coaching youth basketball, hiking, and trying to figure out his 3D printer.

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