It's a parent's worst nightmare: you turn around and your child is gone. Nowhere to be seen.

Sadly, it is not that uncommon as young children like to wander off on their own - and the little Houdinis are quite good at disappearing pretty quickly.

A mother has touched on that subject in an Instagram post that is resonating with parents all over the world.

Vicky Hamilton-Ross wrote on her blog Oliver's Outings about the time her sister Lucinda lost sight of her 4-year-old boy Jake during a family trip to the beach.

Advertisement

According to Hamilton-Ross, Jake knew not to talk to strangers or leave his parents while they were out and about but you'd be mistaken to assume that means nothing could go wrong.

"It was very busy so Lucinda [his mum] was holding his hand. Jake is a shy boy so had no interest in leaving her side anyway," the aunt recalled.

"They stopped to look at a stall and she let go of his hand to pick something up, it was just a couple of minutes, if that.

"When she looked round to take his hand he wasn't there.

"While trying to stay calm and telling herself he wouldn't go far she started to look around and call his name, still couldn't see him.

"Within a matter of minutes an army cadet who was stewarding the event spotted Lucinda and immediately asked what had happened and who she was looking for.

The army cadat "wasted no time" and became shouting "we are looking for a boy". Other people joined him shouting too. "He is 4 years old, blond and in a red T-shirt. Have you seen him?," he kept shouting loudly while trying to cover the areas nearby.

The aunt believes the fact that they were shouting that amount of information on the boy helped find him, about 15 minutes later, a little further down from where he left his parents on the beach.

After being found, Jake revealed more details that made it clear he was faced with potential danger.

"There was a bald man in a white T-shirt, he said he would take me to see a real rocket ship," he told his parents.

"He wasn't inclined to lie as a child and this seemed very genuine," his aunt wrote.

"By very quickly shouting out the description of Jake and that he was lost, it meant the guy couldn't leave the beach without being spotted, so he just left Jake and walked away," she added.

"I would urge every parent to do this immediately, even if you suspect they are just round the corner, what's the worst that could happen - you are slightly embarrassed because they hadn't gone anywhere?

"Well worth that risk."

Hamilton-Ross added: "I truly hope none of you are ever in this situation but if you are then just shout, loud and clear, who you are looking for and what they look like.

"Don't be afraid to ask people to help you in other directions too, it could have been a very different ending without such quick actions."

The cautionary tale is being shared to help other parents become aware of the right thing to do when they can't see their child.

Are you a parent in New Zealand? Join our parenting group on Facebook.