My daughter (4 yrs) has taken great pleasure in "hiding" recently. Twice with me and once with her father. At a bonfire at my sisters house, my daughter came up missing. Six adults were running through the house yelling her name...we looked in every room, every closet, etc. The thought that she went out the front door and was napped crossed my mind. We searched and yelled for her. Nothing. I was 2 seconds away from calling 9-1-1, when thankfully, someone found her under a bed.
We are a playful family. We hide and spook each other (jump out and say "booo!"), jokes, etc. Lots of fun and my daughter loves every minute of it. So, her hiding comes naturally. I was so angry the last time she did this that I told her, "If you do that again, you will get a spanking!" (it just came out of my mouth without thinking). I have to sit her down and tell her the consequence won't be a spaking...but I need an alternative consequence.
I've talked to her and I told her, "If you're hiding and playing, you need to speak up when people are calling your name. Just say 'I'm hiding. Come find me!', so that we know you're safe...."
What else can I do? She scared her dad half to death a couple nights ago doing this same thing. Hiding isn't the problem...it's her remaining silent and us thinking she's gone. Thanks for your help.
Maybe talk about a "safe word" that you can use to show her that you are really looking for her and not playing. For instance, when wrestling and playing we might "ignore" a "NO" but if ds says "stop!" we stop. As he gets a bit older I think I want to introduce it more clearly. But when you are playing saying "where is dd? I can't find her anywhere! Have you see her?" *is* part of the game, but if you establish that when you say "XYZ" and then "where are you?" you aren't playing.