My happy and spirited 3 year old son loves to be outside. He will now exit the house and run down the sidewalk, despite many talks about having me come with him or staying where I can see. I do not want to chase him, scare him, or lock him inside. But I have a baby too and can not always follow him at a moment’s notice. What should I do?
Your child seems passionate about being outside and you are right to want to honor his direction. When we ask children for what they cannot do, they learn to ignore our instructions because they must follow their own first. Your son’s persistence in going with his own heart is a good indication of self-esteem and self-reliance. Congratulate yourself. Make sure to ask him for what he can do, so he develops responsiveness to your guidance. Don’t show up as the one restricting his life, but as the one protecting his freedom.
It may be difficult, but not impossible, to honor your child’s wish. Wrap the baby on your body and follow him. It is good for the baby to be outside too. In addition, if you tell your son that you cannot come out with him because of the baby, he will develop resentment against his sibling and can even become aggressive. Do your best not to have your son’s life be hindered by the baby.
I don’t know your baby’s age, but, if taking him outside is not always possible, I suggest that you hire a mother helper to either hold the baby, or to go outside with your son. In addition, you may want to consider moving to a child friendly environment. When my first born wanted to be outside all the time, we moved to the country so he could freely and safely roam. The city is made for adults and has no consideration for children. The forest or meadow are child friendly. Even a quiet dead end of a suburb street can be much easier.
I hope one of these possibilities, or a combination of some, will help you honor your child’s attraction to the outdoors.
Warmly, Naomi Aldort, www.AuthenticParent.com