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Mom Shares The Quick-Thinking Hack She Used After Her Toddler Went Missing In The Store

Photo: @jesmartini | TikTok, Karolina Grabowska, Kwangmoozaa | Canva
Jess Martini on TikTok offering advice to parents

It can happen to even the most experienced parents: you turn your back for a second to grab something off the shelf at the store or to pay for amusement park tickets, only to turn back around and discover your child gone without a trace. 

Naturally, your first instincts may be to panic and frantically begin searching for them. As hard as it may be, you should stop, pause for a moment, and evaluate the best course of action for an undoubtedly terrifying situation. 

One mother shared her experience of losing her toddler in a supermarket and the quick-thinking method that led to their reunification.

Jess Martini, a mother from New Zealand, took to TikTok to share the potentially life-saving advice she used to find her two-year-old son after he went missing in a K-Mart. Interestingly enough, she learned the advice from TikTok, and now she is spreading the important PSA that she says “blew her mind.” 

Before diving right into her tips and tricks, Martini reminds all parents that they are not invincible to misplacing their child from time to time and that it can happen to even the best parents. 

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The mother advises parents that if they ever lose their child in a public place, to start ‘loudly’ looking for them.

“If you are ever at an amusement park, zoo, mall, wherever it is and you start looking around and your child is no longer with you, what you want to do is that you want to start loudly looking for them,” Martini says. “Do not start silently looking for them.” 

What exactly does Martini mean by this? It means that you will start hollering out your child’s physical description at the time of their disappearance to get the attention of those around you. This way, they know what to be on the lookout for and can speed up the search since there will be more eyes. 



Martini provides an example that sounds like this: I’m looking for a boy, age five, short brown hair, brown eyes, caucasian, red Nike T-Shirt, black shorts!” 

She encourages parents to repeat the description over and over until their child is found. People around you will also know not to let the child leave if they spot them attempting to slip out the doors or with another adult. 

“Now you’ve got every single person who is around you looking for your child instead of just you and best case scenario, somebody else finds your child and they return them to you,” Martini says. 

The mother adds that while you may feel “stupid” shouting the same description over and over, your actions are detrimental in order for your child to be found safe and sound. 

“It is so much better to look stupid than be sorry.”

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Other parents shared their own experiences using this particular method to help find their missing kids quickly. 

“I lost my kid at Legoland and that’s what I did,” one TikTok user commented. “I sent my husband one way and I went the other. We found him two minutes later but it felt like an eternity.” 

“My three-year-old brother got lost in SeaWorld. My mom made sure the entire park knew he was missing. We found him safely inside the mascot whale,” another user shared. 

“I saw this happen in a huge store and it worked! Everyone jumped into action looking for this toddler and they found him super fast!” another user wrote. 

Some people may wonder why not every parent has used this method to help them find their lost child, and the heartbreaking reality is that they may fear that instead of helping to look for them, strangers will roll their eyes and brand them as bad parents. 

Before we judge parents during a moment when their hearts are in their throats, it is important to note that in the U.S., over 2,000 children get lost in public places every day. Typically, a parent takes their eyes off of them for just a moment, and their little legs move quickly and silently. Within seconds, they are out of sight. 

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Children getting lost is not always the result of poor parenting.

More often than not, it often happens simply when children get distracted by something else and their curious minds lead them away from their parents to investigate it. 

While Martini’s method is incredibly useful for parents when their child goes missing, it is also just as important we teach our children what to do in a situation where they find themselves lost. 

"You should [start by] teaching your child their full name, your full name, and have them memorize your cell phone number as soon as they are able," Susan Kennedy, the program manager for outreach and prevention at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children told Very Well Family. "That way if they get lost away from home — like at an amusement park or festival — an adult can help them call you. Ideally, also teach them phone numbers for one or two other emergency contact people and their home address as well.” 

It is also recommended that children stop where they are, look for another adult with children, and loudly make it known that they need help. 

We’re all human, and we all get lost or lose sight of people every now and then in a busy area. Chances are if we seek help from those around us, most people will be more than willing to step in.

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.