Friday, June 29th, 2007
Parking Pal Magnets Aim to Corral Kids Around Cars
Parking Pal is a colorful CD-sized magnet bearing the silhouette of a child’s hand. It sticks to the outside of your car door. When you end up distracted in a parking lot, say, loading groceries into your car, you instruct your child to keep his hand on the magnet.
It is a visual prop for a well-known trick for keeping kids safe in a parking lotâ€”tell them to keep their hands on your car so they are not running out where they could get hit by a moving vehicle.
This product may be useful for some parents, and inexpensive at $6 a pop ($5 on sale at the moment).
The dad inside me thinks we’re better off not relying on gimmicks to back up the disciplining of our children. It’s critical for parents, in the words of Dr. Sears, to set limits, take charge and provide structure. Parking Pal can help you do that, but I’d like to think a parent’s word alone should suffice. If not, maybe there are larger issues at play that started long before you drove to the store. But that’s just the father of a single well-behaved girl speaking. Give me a non-stop rambunctious boy, or worse, two or three, and I might feel differently.
Secondarily, during summer months, placing a hand on a hot metal door
probably isn’t a good idea. My lefty wife noted the magnets only
feature right hands, though my righty brain thinks it won’t matter to kids.
We handle our 3-year-old Little Miss in a parking lot with a much simpler technique. She holds a parent’s hand on the way to the car (if she isn’t riding in a shopping cart). Once at the car, my first action is to open the passenger door and instruct her to get inside. I then close her door and proceed to place merchandise in the trunk.
If we’re parked on a slope I sometimes prop the shopping cart against a corner of the car so I can give my daughter full attention. If I must go to the trunk first, Little Miss is directed to hold onto my pant leg.
If a parking lot is a bit desolate, we’ll afford her more freedom. For example, she may walk from a store to our car while standing next to us without holding a hand, but with instruction to stay next to us (and still within reach for us to grab should something go wrong). We leave room for her to learn proper conduct without Mom and Dad controlling every detail.
How do you handle your parking lot situations?