Most parents don’t get through their children’s childhood without at least one horror story of losing them in a public place. A mom who went through it is crediting a viral TikTok hack for helping her locate her missing child much faster than if she had simply just called their name.
Krista Piper Gundry shared her story on her own TikTok account last year, recalling how she briefly lost track of her three-year-old (as the mother of a three-year-old myself, I would sooner skydive sans parachute before judging any other toddler mom). She quickly remembered a viral TikTok hack she had seen geared toward parents who lose sight of their kids in public.
“It was of a mom who had lost her kid in, I believe, a grocery store,” she explains. “And instead of yelling out the kid’s name, she yelled out the description of what her child was wearing. And she was able to find her kid way faster. So that is what I did.”
Your natural instinct is to call your child’s name, and that’s not necessarily wrong. Personally, I vividly remember hearing my name being called by my own parents when I was being cheeky and hiding inside those circular clothing racks at K-Mart back in the day. But this idea can help you—and others near you—find your child faster.
“I stopped calling out her name and I started yelling, ‘girl pink shirt, pink Minnie Mouse shirt and that is when I started yelling and I’m sure people thought that I was a little crazy.”
Sure, you might think people are looking at you like you’re a little nuts, but listen to what happened next—strangers immediately understood she was a mom who needed help and they did just that.
“A mom said, ‘little girl pink shirt Minnie Mouse?’ and I was like ‘yes’ and that was her. So PSA if you ever or lose your child or dog or anything, yell out their description, raise your voice,” she said.
The important thing to remember is a few seconds of feeling silly are nothing compared to a lifetime of knowing you did what you could to find your child in those panic-inducing moments.
Many fellow parents shared their gratitude and solidarity for Gundry’s situation. One mom even shared her own valid hack for when she goes out in public with her kids—she takes a picture of what they were wearing that day and makes it the lock screen on her phone.
“Hopefully, this reaches other parents that if you are in this situation, shout out your kid’s description and find them faster.”
Additionally, think about how often other moms are yelling their child’s names in public. It’s pretty much a constant thing, right? If I heard another mom yelling out “John! John!” I’d probably either tune it out or assume she was just doing her mom thing. If I heard a panicked mother yelling out descriptions of John’s t-shirt and shoes, that would grab my attention immediately.
It is estimated that 2,300 children are missing every day in the United States, according to Child Find of America. And while children can become missing for many reasons, it gives us a little peace of mind to know we have this hack in our back pocket for those moments they squirrel away from us at the grocery store.
A version of this story was originally published on April 10, 2023. It has been updated.