*sigh* I have a runner. It only gets worse as he's gotten older and more daring. I swear it started being difficult to take him to a park as soon as he could walk (and pointless before then, except for dd's sake) It is VERY difficult to interest him in a playground at a park. He might play for a couple minutes, then away he runs. Yesterday we were at a park (one that we've gone to many, many times) that had a bunch of trees on one side.. not sure what they are.. cedars? fairly small/well pruned and shaped. By no means is this a "forested" area, just part of the park's landscaping. Its a (relatively) narrow strip along the side of the park but still.. probably easily 15-20 feet wide? on the other side is a fence because it backs to other businesses. but it goes on really far and on one end you meet a nice busy road, and on the other end it just leads out to other areas of the park.. its huge, a major bike trail goes through there, there's bathrooms that direction, the parking lot, there's lots of vision blocking obstacles. And then, yeah, a parking lot. And its busy enough, its a pretty busy park and can be hard to find parking sometimes! So, when he runs into those trees, they're far enough apart to walk between, close enough together to not be able to see anything and you're brushing up against branches on both sides when you walk between. So its a *perfect* place for a toddler to run wild through while I chase, and I *cannot* tell which way he went, except if I listen for him. So I'm chasing him through this MAZE. And a couple times I don't catch up until he's pretty darn far from the playground, with a concerned looking mom watching over him looking around for signs of his mom (thank goodness.. i like to think they'd snatch him before he hit the parking lot if i was still wandering tree maze) I feel I should also mention, those trees are pretty much on top of the benches/picnic tables where we sit to watch kids play, so when he *starts* running I'm right by him. He really doesn't need to run far at all before he's on the other side of a tree and I cant see which way he turned. Also should mention.. this is the first time we've visited that park where he's been *this* horrible. In the past he's run off a little, but never to the point of actually leaving my sight.
He alternates running to this nice grassy hill with a mild slope, just begging for kids to roll down it :D but.. at the top of that hill is a nice busy street. Its annoying and tiresome chasing him from the grassy area, but I can see him so its not as scary.
Then another park.. sigh.. its large and fenced on a couple sides. Incidentally, the fences are on the sides that *don't* face busy streets. He's pure 2 year old hell at that park too. And there's even more trees and bushes and trails that lead right up to a nice scary ROAD! The playground is lovely, but damned if he wants to play on it. I really feel that he wants to explore and find the boundaries at these parks. And also probably thinks its great fun when I chase after him. I can't *not* chase after him, or he'd get himself killed within 10 minutes.
Ever since the weather has gotten nice, and we've been going to parks more often.. this running away problem has gotten progressively worse until finally yesterday was like the last straw and I can't imagine I can take him outside anymore :( He's always been a runner, but this was SOOOO extreme you wouldn't believe it. I'm visualizing a summer spent inside. And the more I think about the problem.. WHY THE HELL aren't parks with playgrounds fenced?! Or am I the only one whose toddler would rather play in the street than on a playground? Seriously, it seems so basic. Depending on the specific park and the logistics involved, it would be so practical to fence in either the area surrounding the playground, or the entire park perimeter. I can't even think of any parks with fences. I'm told of their existence like maybe 25 min away, but I don't know their names or where they are. The very kid who so desperately needs to spend time outside running and burning energy CAN'T because it takes too much work to keep him alive.
Would you believe this same kid has raging separation anxiety and I can't leave him with anyone? Lovely.
Oh that is so hard and no fun at all. I can totally relate. My now 6yo was a terrible runner. As soon as he could crawl he crawled away from me. When I was 35 weeks pregnant with #2 he ran from me in a parking lot and of course I chased him. Afterwards, I panicked b/c I thought my water broke. I have friend who still remebers a very pregnant me runnung full speed after my almost 2yo....multiple times. He eventually grew out of it, but I had to be very strict when we were out and about. Sometimes though he would run away as his way of telling me he was overstimulated or tired and needed to leave the situation.
Anyway, good luck and I sympathize. Hugs!
Proud Mommy to my amazing boys (6 and 4) and my precious little girl (18 months).
((*hugs*)) mama, I have a runner too. How old is your DS? Mine will be 3 at the end of August. I will say it has gotten better recently. I have a few questions and a few suggestions for you.
how is he at listening/following directions in other situations? If you ask him stop yelling/throwing things, etc? Or to pick up some toys, or not touch certain objects?
My DS had become an all-around terrible listener. He didn't listen to ANYTHING I said, and that included running into the street at our home, running into parking lots at the park, screaming loudly while I was trying to get baby brother to sleep, etc.. the list goes on. I desperately NEEDED him to start listening to me, for his safety and for the sanity of our house.. So I talked with a friend who gave me some good advice-- have a schedule/routine to our days, and consistent discipline. When he didn't listen, there had to be a consequence. We use timeouts. And we don't have a lot of rules, but I needed him to follow them. If he started doing something that he shouldn't (hurting baby, running away, screaming loudly in the house, damaging things, etc) I asked him to stop. If he didn't stop, he was immediately put in timeout. This meant I had to lay down baby brother during feedings, while almost asleep, etc but DS needed to know I MEANT what I said. After a few days, things got a lot better, and after a week he was a different kid. We can go to the park, and if he starts running away I just yell "STOP!" and he stops, and comes back. If he doesn't stop, we leave the park. We only had to do that one time before he got it. I can let him play on the back porch now alone, knowing he wont' run off the porch and to the road at our house.
another thing you can do is play "games" to teach him to listen. Games like "red light, green light" or "mother may I" etc.
also-- are there any parks you can visit that are more closed in in the meantime? Oh, and we would always take a stroller with us, so that if we needed to leave suddenly I could strap him in and go (but now he will 90% of the time just go ahead and stay with me so we don't need that anymore)
Catie - Happy wife to Aaron (01.05), mama to Liam(08.08), and Ian (11.10)! and due Feb 2013 with blessing #3!
oh and we got my DS a balance bike (Strider) for his 2nd birthday, and he rides it in the driveway at home, and that really helps him to run off energy outside! could you get something like that if he doesn't like playgrounds?
Catie - Happy wife to Aaron (01.05), mama to Liam(08.08), and Ian (11.10)! and due Feb 2013 with blessing #3!
What about elementary school playgrounds? I know quite a few of them in our area are fenced in or mostly fenced in. They wouldn't have the smaller type play equipment....but then if that's not his interest now then it shouldn't matter. My ds is a bit of a runner too but he's still only 1.5 yrs so he generally doesn't get far. I've taken him into the tennis courts before with a ball and let him play. He's already made it into the street in front of our house twice with us being right there......fortunately a pretty quiet street and we certainly learned our lesson on how *close* we need to be to him.
The toddler playground at the biggest park here is fenced, but it's the first town I've been in with a nice completely fenced area like this.
With dd, I've been working with her on freezing for "hold!" since she first started walking. We began with me right by her and as she started to take a step off our yard onto the sidewalk, I said "hold!" and scooped her up and thanked her for stopping and gave her lots of kisses (which would totally backfire now, she's not as into kisses now.)
So now, at 33 months, I can call hold and she'll both freeze for a couple of seconds AND look in my direction. And sometimes, like 1/3 of the time, she'll even come back to me.
This game also worked for my little brother who was a big darter and a number of other kids, but didn't work with my nephew.
I'd also see if you can get him into running/chasing games with other kids if he's running after a kid who does stay in range it'll help you out. Also, give him a set place to run to, e.g. stand together at the busy road and have him run towards one of the fences. Start at the cedar bushes with no visibility and have him run to something in whichever direction gives the most safe distance.
Start playing the game at home, or in a friend's fenced yard if you don't have a fenced yard, and add in "run back here!" Where you just sit and send him out various landmarks and then when he gets there call "run back here!" (back to mommy, to me, come back, whatever feels best for you)
And they do totally need to have fenced in playgrounds everywhere.
The other thing I want is to have a marked boundary around swings. http://koiwai.biz/eng/v1/ch01/01_23120x174_jpg.htm shows what I mean. The little fence around the swings would keep most kids from wandering right in front of the swings and would give a place for kids who want to watch the swinging to stand safely.
(While I'm at it, pedestrian bridges with bike stairs http://livingdutchly.blogspot.com/2009/01/bike-stairs.html would be awesome too.)
Not sure where you live but in Denver I remember having two kinds of parks... what I called nature parks and play parks. Nature parks were wide usually grassy spaces with trees and rocks etc which your child might enjoy more than a play park, since he doesn't seem to like the playgroupnd equipment. Maybe do some research and try to find a park in a quiet neighborhood more suited to your DS's liking
ugh, I remember that phase. The problem is, now it's a game to him so it's going to be hard to change. Obviously, you can't NOT chase him, although that would be the best way of stopping it. I would try your hardest to find ANY outdoor area where if he runs you can let him. How about a hiking trail, or a soccer field? If you can take him only to place where you don't need to chase him for a few weeks he might get past it. Alternatively, if you go to the 'danger' parks, make a very clear consequence if he steps foot outside the play area. Either he goes in his stroller for 5 minutes or sits on your knee or whatever. Not sure if he is a young two or an older two so he may or may not be ready for that. The run bike is a great idea EXCEPT they are darn fast on that thing! You don't want him faster than you! I hesitate to mention a harness because I know they are one of the hot topics here but it might be an idea to get one. Not for the playground, but for safety when you are walking on the sidewalk or carpark. Take heart though, he WILL outgrow it.