OK, I had one of those horrible parenting moments.....
Yesterday, after homework, the kids went out to play. DD met a little girl and they started playing. Well, the sun was going down and dh and the boys were getting ready to take a load of stuff over to my mother, so we called the kids in. I made it clear that this was it, no more outside for the day. Right as dh was getting ready to leave, the handyman showed up to install the blinds. My youngest was playing with handyman's child and dd had gone into her room. Handyman needed me to show him where the blinds that needed to be replaced were and I was trying to finish up laundry. About an hour and a half later, handyman and his son left. I went to get dd and ds so we could set the table because dh was bringing dinner home. Well, I go into dd's room and she is NOT THERE!! So I look outside and her bike is gone. Now it is dark outside, so I take ds and we go walking down the street looking for dd's bike. Well, she was at her new friend's house, she had told her friend's mom that she had permission to be over there. Thank goodness she was OK, but here is what I did....
I told her that she shouldn't have left without permission. The friend's mom told her that she liked having dd over to play, but that she MUST have permission. It told dd that she could try again next week after a few days at home. We start heading home and I tell dd that she needs to walk with her bike because it's dark outside and cars can't see her. She gets on her bike and starts riding down the road. I tell her again that she needs to walk her bike. She refused to get off her bike, finally I get her off the bike and tell her that she is losing her tire. She cried and asked why. I explained that she just showed she didn't understand simple bike safety and she refused to listen to me when I explained it to her so she will get her tire back after I am sure that she understands when it is safe to ride and when it is too dangerous.
Do you think I did the right thing? I don't know, it just feels like it's not enough to really make her understand that leaving without permission and staying out after dark are completely unacceptable.
Oh, what a nightmare! I am so sorry that you had such a scare. I can only imagine how how hard it was too keep it together when you finally found her. (Relief, joy, frustration, anger, - so many possible emotions) And I can also see how frustrating it was for you when she did not listen to your request to not ride her bicycle. What I hear you saying is your main concern is that she is not understanding how leaving without permission is not OK. I am not sure how old she is.
I think what I would do, is when I was feeling calmer sit down with my child and really talk to him about how I was feeling when I discovered that he wasn't there. ie) When I walked into your room and realized that you were not there, I was stunned. When I realized you were not in the house I was very frightened as I had no idea where you were. I love you so much, and it really scared me to not know where you were. I don't think you realize how important it is that you always make sure to let me or whoever know where you are. Then see what he says. I would then talk about how I was upset, when he wouldn't listen to me when I asked him not to ride his bike. That I could see that he obviously felt it was ok to ride it; but that I needed to feel he was safe; and I didn't understand why he wasn't listening to me. (Maybe, he was embarrased that I had picked him up. I remember being a young child and going to a friends house and really not understanding why my mother was freaking out when she finally located me.- my poor mother) I would then see what he said. If I felt that we had a good conversation and he got it, I would let him have his bike back. My main objective would be to try to connect. If I did not think he was getting it, I would tell him that I didn't feel good about taking the tire - but that I didn't feel comfortable giving his bike back either - because I need to really be able to trust that he will be safe. I would see how it went from there.
Again, so sorry that you went through that terrible scare. So good that everything worked out ok. They are just so young and they don't yet realize that like the saying says "when you have a child it is as if your heart is running around outside of your body." (something like that) Personally, I think you handled it really well. I think I would have been an exploding ball of stress; and I don't know how I would have reacted.
She's 7. She really had alot more free rein at our other place because we had a few acres for her to run on. This neighborhood living is new to her. I try to let them have some freedom, but honestly, they (her older brother is getting bad at this too) are really almost going insane with this area. This whole neighborhood is nothing but families, there are a couple older couples, but for the most part it is kids in every house. I just don't think they know what to do with their choice of play dates that day. They also get out of school at 1:45 so they get the better part of the day to just run and play. I hope she starts to understand that there are limits.
I really only kept it together because the 4 yr. old was with me and I didn't want to freak him out. In my head, I thought I was going to lose my mind. All I kept telling myself was, "OK let's get to the end of the street, if I don't see her there, then I can freak out".
My son is also seven. When I first read your post, I thought, I could not see my son doing that at this age. And then I had to think again. I notice that this seems to be the age of him needing to be close to us (parents) and also needing to exert his independence. So, when we are out with friends - there have been times when he doesn't listen when I have said it is time to go, and will just run off with his friend. So, while not the same - in some ways there seems to be a similarity in the wanting to do what they want to do.
When I was thinking about your situation and your daughter riding off on her bike - I thought if it was me, and I had just gone through the ordeal of finding my child, the last thing I would want is for them to be away from me at that moment. So, if I asked him to get off his bike, it would probably be because I needed him close, and also the concern about it being dark. If that was the case - when I was going to talk to him about the situation - I would also share my need for him to be close to me; after my scare of loosing him.
I can also see how after being use to acres to roam on; she feels comfortable roaming around your neighbourhood. I guess the point is that you don't feel comfortable with her doing that and so it is important for her to let you know where she is - so that you can be ok about her being out.
I also realized in your post that it sounds like you had told her it was time to stay in. If it was me I would ask my son - what was going on for him to leave?
Good luck mama