What can I do?
12m+ Take the pushchair.
Make it a habit to hold hands in open spaces.
- Ask them to choose your left or right hand so they feel like they have some choice.
- Have immediate consequences ready if they do run: eg - into the pushchair/back pack or straight home.
- Maybe a hand to hand ‘stretchy’ for really unsafe situations
Avoid running away games.
If running away is a regular problem, avoid confusing them by playing running away games. Otherwise how will they know when it’s not a game?
Help them learn about safety.
- When they are calm, explain and show them why you want them to stay close. Reinforce the safety message when you get the chance - for example: “Look at that dead hedgehog he didn’t listen!’
- Play the ‘stop go’ game in a large safe open space.
- Read books or tell stories about kids being safe.
Take the pushchair.
- if you are going into town or somewhere there’s lots of traffic, take the buggy or pushchair along.
- Calmly explain to them that if they start running away they will need to sit in the buggy.
- Be consistent each time you go out and soon you won’t need it.
- Talk about the buggy as a good thing – “I wish I had a buggy to catch a ride in – my legs are so tired!”
Release excess energy.
- If they’ve been cooped up inside they are more likely to get out of control in a public space. Take them for a run around somewhere safe.
- If it’s raining maybe enjoy a little workout together in the lounge - add some songs for extra enjoyment.
Praise them for staying close.
- Give lots of praise for staying close as you’ve talked about - young kids like to please.
- Be specific about the behaviour you are happy with. e.g. I really liked the way you held my hand when we got to the car park.
- Let them hear you share their efforts with others too
Try to stay calm but firm.
- Yelling “STOP” can create power struggles. If you keep yelling they may even tune out.
- In your calm voice say “I see I need to help you be safe” Telling is better than yelling.
Have consequences ready.
Have consequences ready and follow through immediately. e.g. Scoop them up and carry them to the car if they refuse to hold your hand. They may kick and scream, but getting hit by a car is much worse!
And what about you?
Over it? Use your phone timer to set a time limit for a play activity – your full attention for five minutes is better than half pai for longer.
Had enough? You may feel like you need alcohol or drugs to relax – but they often make the situation worse, especially when you have to deal with kids. Who could help you cut down or cut it out?