Why Do Toddlers Run Away?

OMG my toddler bolted!!! Somebody, please stop her before she runs in the street!!

I am sure this has happened to you at one time or another, or if not, it may.

Toddlers love the feeling of being free to run around, if you are in a safe place where you can see your toddler, it is ok to let him run ahead of you. Normally, if you do not yell or run after him, he will stop on his own, turn around and run back when he sees you are not coming after him.

“ You have to keep up with your toddler” says Roni Leiderman, associate dean of the Family Center at Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, FL. “Children this age love to hide, and letting them out of your sight is just too risky”. You’d never forgive yourself if he were lost in the crowd.

  1. Show him where he “can” run. The message you want to convey is that running is fine as long as he runs in the right place at the right time. You need to practice where and when he can run.
  2. Engage and Entertain Him- Toddlers often get bored when they are out doing errands with         mommy. You can ask your toddler to help push the cart, or choose what he wants to buy. One mother says to her toddler”Please hold my hand because I do not know where to go to find the cookies, etc”. Toddlers love to be helpers.
  3. Encourage him when he does well –for example, when he resists the urge to run wild , please say I am very happy when I called you, you came back. Please do not say” You are a big boy. It really has no meaning.
  4. Keep him in his stroller when the running away phase lasts ( usually between 18 months and 2/12 years) Please provide him with his favorite toy and some new toys to entertain him.
  5. Use a carrier or a harness, if your toddler needs a change from the stroller. Some people think it is “terrible” the keep your child on a harness, but when it comes to his safety, pay no attention!
  6. Don’t waste your time on “warnings” says Dr. Leiderman. They do not understand this at these ages. If you have had it, just take him home and “cool down” yourself.
  7. Safety songs and stories are good, but a toddler loves to run.
  8. Just do your best and “keep your cool”
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