When kids test limits, they don't benefit from caregivers breaking down or giving in, but instead need leaders who can calmly and confidently handle them. This helps children find the limits of acceptable behavior, and these limits help them feel safe and secure.
"...running away (like all testing) is typical, normal behavior rather than a sign that we’re inept parents or have an unruly child that hates us. But since a toddler on the run in any situation is potentially unsafe, this is the type of testing we should do all we can to prevent from happening."
Things To Try
- Give her lots of space to run free in safe spaces.
- Set her up for success by asking, "When we get to the mall, do you want to ride in the stroller/hold my hand or walk?" When she excitedly says "walk!" it's the perfect time to remind her of what you'll expect of her.
- You can try learning songs/reading books about being safe, but it's most important to practice appropriate behavior out and about when it counts.
- Engage and entertain her as much as possible during errands.
- Set clear, non-negotiable limits: "Remember that you need to hold my hand." Then enforce as necessary while doing your best to acknowledge and connect: "I know you want to run right now, but it's not safe to run away so you need to stay right near me or I'm going to hold your hand. Later, when we're at the park you'll be able to run a lot!"
- Don't keep offering warnings or count to three. If he refuses to comply, gently and immediately physically enforce your limit: "I can't let you run away. I'm going to pick you up now to make sure you're safe." (If they struggle: "When your body and voice are calm, I'll know you're ready to try walking with me again."
Share Your Experience
What's working for you? What's got you ruffled?
Leave a comment, or stop by your office or classroom to talk about your triumphs or your travails when it comes to your kiddos making a break for it. I love talking about positive discipline with families of our Honeysuckle Junior Toddlers at CMLC Sellwood!
P.S. Janet Lansbury's Facebook Page is awesome! She shares incredibly helpful conversations among parents on a daily basis.