One of the scariest scenarios moms play in their heads is losing their child in a public place. And if your child is a runner, this scenario may have unfortunately become a reality, or close to one. Having a toddler who runs off is frustrating and stressful, and since my own kids have been known to just “take off,” I have figured out a few ways to help you get your child to stay close to you when you’re out.
1. The Backpack Harness
There may be those who disagree with me on this, but when it comes to our child’s safety, we have to go with our first instinct on how to keep them out of harm’s way. Before my children became toddlers, I never thought I would use a backpack harness. But on many occasions, I believe it has helped keep my children safe. When you have a child who loves to run but refuses to listen, you have to take preventive measures. The safety of your child is your number one concern, so you shouldn’t feel guilty for using a harness.
2. Allow Independence with Consequences
I always ask my child if she wants to ride in the stroller or walk. If she chooses to walk, I give her instructions to stay with me. But if she chooses not to listen, she goes in the stroller. Make sure your child understands the rules of being independent so they don't get hurt. If you find yourself always picking them up or putting them in a stroller, they may not be ready for independence, so give it a little more time.
3. Make It a Game
A fun and effective way to teach your child about safety is to make it fun. I’ve created a game of “Red Light, Green Light.” Whenever we go for a walk, at each driveway, I’ll say “Red Light,” look both ways and then say “Green Light” so she can continue on.
4. Start Out Slowly
When your child starts walking in public, start slowly. Don’t let them walk around in a crowded place like the mall. It will be overwhelming for them and they won’t be able to focus on listening to you. Start out on your residential street or a local park. Let them practice listening to you and taking your directions. When you feel they’re ready for a bigger and louder place, they should be better able to focus and listen to you and remember your rules.
5. Be Clear and Concise
It can be so frustrating when your child tries to run into the street or take off when you're paying at the register. Our first inclination is to yell “STOP” when our kids are getting into harm’s way. But your toddler may not know what you’re telling them to stop doing. Be clear about what you want them to do and say something like “Stay with me while we’re in the store,” or “Stay on the sidewalk.” If you say “No running” they may just pick up on the word “running” and take advantage.
How do you get your toddler from running off?