My 4 going on 5 year old son keeps escaping from the house. I take them out to play supervised, but we can't be out there all day. Every time I go to nurse the baby or put him down for a nap, or have to focus on some household thing, he finds a way to sneak out. Bars on the windows (which are illegal) and deadbolt locks (which I can't afford to change out) might be the only way to keep this boy inside. When he gets out he plays in the front yard or goes to talk to the next door neighbors, all alone and without my knowledge/permission. Anyone could snatch him up, that's one concern of mine but the odds of that are low. The other, main, worry is concerned neighbors calling protective services on me about him. No wind of that yet but he keeps repeatedly doing this nonsense despite my talking with him, grounding him, watching him like a hawk every moment I can, locking the doors, telling him which room to play in til I get done. Tell my honestly, am I going to lose my child one of these days when some neighbor finally calls it in?
Will they take him for this?
I installed a simple chain lock on my doors. Way up high, where even if standing on a chair, dear child can't reach to unlock. Being in the shower with dear child alone in the house worried me. It only takes one second for them to slip outside. The chain lock has allowed me to relax a bit more.
As for the windows. Would an alarm work? You buy them at walmart or any hardware store. If the seal is broke, the alarm will sound. Not too expensive and something anyone could install with a couple of screws. It's really high-pitched. You'd be sure to hear it, no matter what you were doing.
The alarm would even work on the doors if the chain lock isn't an option (or if he's too tall to reach while standing on a chair). Hope this works or you find a better solution!
I would second door and window alarms. My Grandma got some at Walmart and they were inexpensive. They make a piercing sound when the connection between the two parts is broken! You could definately hear him then, but the downside would be if you are trying to but the baby down for a nap it would wake the baby. It would be better in the long run to wake the baby than to have the older one running around, though.
My dh's cousin's 2 yo got out the front door, made his way to a pond and drowned before anyone even noticed he was gone. Unfortunately things like that do happen even if they aren't common.
I was wondering, if you trust the neighbours could you give them the heads up that this is what he is doing and you are working hard to find a solution? Then they know that you are aware of the problem and they might be less likely to report you and also then they know that if they see him outside alone he shouldn't be there and they will probably bring him home.
I would only do this if you knew your neighbours really well and felt that you could trust them with that.
Are you living on a busy street? In a high crime area?
I think that it is OK for a child of that age to be outside, in their yard unsupervised for short periods of time. My child likes to play outside all of the time. When she was 4 we started allowing it in the backyard, then she was allowed in the front yard as long as she stayed behind a certain limit from the road. I kept an eye on her from the windows, and would poke my head out to get a verbal check in ever 15 minutes or so. Sometimes a neighbor would be around and I made sure to let my presence be known, because I, like you worried about someone overreacting and calling CPS, and to just let the regulars know I was watching her even though she seemed to be unsupervised.
I also tried to time her "unsupervised" outside time with times I would be able to keep an eye out. Then, when I needed to nurse or take a shower, I would call her in to play for a bit. I tried to meet her need to be outside alone with my need to keep an eye on her.
We went through a period where the chain lock up high was necessary too. I also had small chimes hanging froma hook on the doors so I could hear if they were opened.
My ds used to let himself out too and it scared the daylight ous of me.
We had the landlord install a sliding lock at the very top of the door and also got one of the alarm things mentioned above. We got ours from dollar tree and it worked so well we ended up buying like 5 of them for use on other doors/window.
Then I started prepping him for playing outside. We started with him playing on the stoop and told to stay there while I grabbed xyz from inside. Gradually I expanded his area to the yard directly under the window, then eventually to the whole yard and the top half of the driveway.
When I was finally able to "turn him loose" outside and be reasonably sure he would follow the rules it was a relief to both of us. He also stopped "escaping" when my back was turned because he knew all he had to do was ask.
I don't think 5 is too young to be outside. Since he has a desire to play independently outside, rather than waging a power battle, why not set some ground rules and parameters for him and let him try it? If it doesn't work you can always revoke the privilege!
Yes, a cheap chain lock and an alarm on the windows. You could get these for less than $10 total. We had to do this when we lived in an apartment several years ago. Of course, my 3 yr old then still figured out how to push a chair over, stack something on the chair, and reach the lock (it was as high as it would go), so you could always put a chime on the door, too.
you need to get your neighbors on your side. next time you bust him outside talking with the neighbors, walk over and take him back. tell him in front of them that he is not allowed to come over without asking you first. then when you see the neighbors again, explain that you are having a hard time keeping him in, and that if he does this again, would they please either call you on their cell phone (if they carry one) or walk him back home.
then, i would advise, that you have a consequence for his disobeying you this way. a long time out, a loss of TV or computer privilege or something else he values. something to deter this behavior.
currently, what is the consequence when he does this? what is your reaction, and how does he respond?
Edited by ElliesMomma - 5/28/11 at 10:27pm
Your nearly 5 year old slips out occasionally, stays in the yard and sometimes talks to the neighbors. Um.... in many parts of the country, this is very typical behavior for a child that age. If he wanders more than a house or two, if he ends up several blocks away and can't find his way home, you might worry. (But then there's a thread in TAO about how someone's 5 year old ended up riding his bike near an on-ramp to a freeway while she was out looking for him -- and the police brought him home. It's fine.)
I don't think it's dangerous to let a 5 year old out of the house on their own. My dd played outside a lot last summer and I was not with her every moment. True, she had other neighborhood kids and her big brother around most of the time. But, I still let her go around the corner to her friend's house. I know the neighborhood. I know my child. It's safe.
This is what I'd do:
If you have a backyard, send him out there to play, even if it's not fenced. Give him very strict, concrete boundaries and check on him every 2-3 minutes. If he strays from the boundaries, he's inside for the rest of the day unless you can go out with him.
If you don't have a backyard, check the safety of your front yard. How many cars go by? Can you trust your child not to go in the street (I could trust ds not to do that at 4, but not dd)? If it's not too busy and you can trust him, then again, set up boundaries. Talk to the neighbors as others have suggested and let them know what the boundaries are. "If you see him over in your yard, can you let me know? He's supposed to stay in our yard, and I'm trying to see if he has enough maturity to handle this this year."
Install the chain lock for those times when he absolutely must stay in.
Take a deep breath. Read Protecting the Gift. And the stats on child endangerment. Child snatching is extremely rare. My child is much more likely to be hurt falling down the stairs or being in a car accident.
It's a popular idea on MDC that 5 yo kids are old enough to wander the neighborhood unsupervised. Read directly below my username to see how I feel about that. :) I would just put inexpensive locks high up on all the doors and any windows that he could use to escape.
I don't think that is true at all. No one is advocating letting a 5 year old wander a neighborhood but playing in the yard is far from a crazy idea.
I second and third the idea of installing an inexpensive chain lock up high. It solves that part of the problem in about five minutes with a screw driver.
The window alarm things sound like a good idea too!
I second the lock on th etop of the door and an alram if it keeps happeneding.
The issue to me isnt only his age, but the fact that he is disobeying you when you have been clear about his expectations.
At that point he isnt ready to be outside unsupervised if he can not obey the house rules.
Is it safe for him to play outside? If so I'd let him, for short periods while you watched from inside until he learns the boundaries.
It's been my experience with boys (and girls) that age that the more you try and ban something (or lock it up) the more curious they are and they'll double their efforts to satsfy their curiosity.
I'm wondering this too. Is there a real safety issue with him being outside? I can't imagine being afraid to let a five year old play outside. Our kids all play together in the street. (nobody has a front yard) Our back yards are all six foot block walls, so that is never an issue. I even let tiny kids go out back alone.
Are there any neighborhood services that you can apply for in your area.... in some towns, you can apply with a need, (a chain link fence) and volunteers will donate the materials and the labor.
I would install a lock of some sort high up on the door. I have a spring lock on a room where I keep some pets,and no one can reach. In the least I would keep him by me while nursing the babe.
My concern with the child getting out is there is someone like Michael Woodmansee in every city. I am sure this family did not think their 5yo would be kidnapped,tortured,and murdered.
I am sure the grandmother of Samatha Runnion never thought a man would snatch her 5yo granddaughter while she played with friends in a condo complex.Take her, rape her, and kill her.
We always think it never happen to OUR child,but sometimes it does.
Talk with your child and get good locks.
The neighborhood is a safe and quiet one and he knows not to go in the street. I doubt he'd push it more than 2 houses away. There are only a few kids in the neighborhood and they don't really leave their homes except for the skater kid teens. Like I said getting snatched up is one danger but unlikely, mostly I'm bothered by the disobedience and the worry we'll get the authorities called on us. I have read PTG, I know the likely danger is not some random person taking him. That's cool they have alarms that don't require a whole system and monitoring service, I'll see if I can save up for that. High up locks wouldn't help unfortunately, this boy is a resourceful monkey about high up things he wants. Before, he was allowed in the backyard unsupervised, but the gate won't close and he just leaves now. We will replace the gate in a few months when we can.