help please, 20 month old running away and not stopping - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 09-25-2008, 11:43 PM - Thread Starter
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My 20 month old thinks it is great fun to run away from me, towards the road or into it. I tell her cars are moving and can hurt baby, and she will even look around and say "cars moving" and run, laughing the whole way. She does not respond to NO or Stop or wait..... I don't use any of those words except when absolutely necessary, but she ignores it when in these situations. It has happened at my mom's in the yard, and mom can't catch up to her. I really need to learn to hold hands when necessary. Please help me find a way to teach her. She is very verbal and has great processing, cause and effect skills, but she is still a BABY, KWIM?
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#2 of 21 Old 09-25-2008, 11:49 PM
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I have the same problem with my 15 month old. All I can really do is physically pick him up and move him away from the danger.
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#3 of 21 Old 09-26-2008, 12:04 AM
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My 15 month old does this too but without the laughing. He just takes off walking when we are out and NEVER looks back to see if I am there or following him. The other day we were in a restaurant and he got up, walked to the front door, opened it, walked out onto the sidewalk and proceeded to head down the block. I was right behind him the whole time but he never looked back or anything. He just had it in his head that he was going somewhere. It freaks me out. I am vigilant when I take him out but I get paranoid that one day I will get distracted for two seconds and he'll take off. He also loves cars and will head toward the street, reaching out for them when they drive by. Very scary.

When do these little ones learn not to run off?

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#4 of 21 Old 09-26-2008, 12:06 AM
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my son ran out into the road at about that age from in between 2 parked cars. we live in brooklyn, ny, where all rules of civil or safe driving are ignored on a regular basis. needless, to say, this scared more than any other moment i've had with my kids. i freaked out, grabbed him by the arm, pulled him towards me, all the while screaming hysterically, and we both started crying!

i think that kids this age are too young to really "teach" about a relatively abstract concept such as this. i know my son didn't respond to my calling out to him when he would run. instead, i would keep him in a carrier or stroller when we were walking around the neighborhood, so he couldn't make a break for it.

he definitely began to catch on to the "sidewalk only" rule at about 2.5 yrs. now, at 3, he's really getting it, recognizing the walk/don't walk signals but i'm just as watchful as i was when he was smaller.
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#5 of 21 Old 09-26-2008, 12:34 AM
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I used a harness with my oldest DD, she would run away otherwise. She HATED the stroller and did not want to be carried. She loved the freedom it gave her to look and explore but it kept her within a safe distance to me so I didn't have to worry about her running off. I strongly recommend them.

Oh, and I love the comment that our LLL Leader had to say about the harness (at a meeting when we were discussing it and some negative comments came up). She said "Why don't you try walking around all the time with one arm up over your head and see how comfortable it is to you. The harness allows your child to safely explore the world around her."

I have rarely used it with my middle child, she has seemed quite content in the stroller for long outings... but it's in my car and I suspect that I will use it the next time I take my 18 mos son to the mall. He loves to walk but he kept running away the last time we went there to window shop.

As far as teaching your child about safety outside, I still have to remind my oldest (she'll be 6 in Dec.) to walk between me and the curb when we go down to the bus stop (we don't have sidewalks in my neighborhood). I think that it depends on the child as to what age they really grasp this concept.

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#6 of 21 Old 09-26-2008, 12:38 AM
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In situations where we're in parking lots or on sidewalks where there are cars on roads we still hold hands. My sons are 4.5.

Even kids who understand can be unpredictable or impulsive. But playing in the driveway or yard now neither go in the road and in general they wouldn't go in front of a car in any situation. They're cautious now. I'm not sure when that happened--around two for one and closer to three or so for the other.

At that age I gave them choices--wagon, stroller, or hold hands. Not worth it to do otherwise. We played in the back yard (far enough from the road that I could catch someone).

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#7 of 21 Old 09-26-2008, 11:55 AM
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Sounds normal to me; you said it-she's still a baby. DD is almost 2 and although she may be capable of learning street = cars, that doesn't translate to anything beyond that for her. She is less prone to darting than she was at 20 mos, but still can't be trusted to not dash to the street. "Stop" seems pretty useless for her at this point too, sometimes it works, sometimes not. And she thinks it's fun for me to chase her. Last night I actually had a nightmare about her running out in city traffic.

If we are out she has a choice of hand or sling. In the yard (tho I live on a very quiet st) I generally put myself between her and the road. I think I read a similar thread recently where people said they get it around 3, but I am sure it depends on the child. At this age though, I think it is impossible to teach them not to go in the street as sometimes the impulse just overcomes them.
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#8 of 21 Old 09-26-2008, 01:16 PM
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DS has a choice of hand, sling, harness, or stroller.
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#9 of 21 Old 09-26-2008, 03:05 PM
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I teach children with developmental disabilities. I practice street safety early on by practicing in safe places like backyards. I start by practicing start/stop while holding hands, then while walking together side by side not holding hands, then with the child a bit in front of me, then with the child up ahead of me. We play games with starting and stopping and then once they are consistent with following me, then we go to a safe street and practice there.

Slowly, step by step with lots of practice and lots of social reinforcement for following directions.

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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#10 of 21 Old 09-27-2008, 04:08 AM
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Dr. Sears Discipline Book addresses this exact situation and he said that he would "practice" as the previous post suggested. He would run to the street with his child and then stop at the street and then do that again about 20 times. He did this every time that his child ran away.
This encouraged me b/c my son was doing this and I felt like there should be some way that I could get him to listen and obey and this reminded me that he is still a baby and that discipline is an ongoing.
Good luck
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#11 of 21 Old 09-27-2008, 06:10 AM
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My ds got the concept quite easily, but not my dd.

So what I did with her was as a PP suggested and play the stop/start game and she got it pretty quickly. Now she is 3.5 and for a while now I've felt comfortable with her ability to listen to my requests (also talking out of the moment about what is expected and why).

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#12 of 21 Old 09-27-2008, 06:18 AM
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This may sound rediculous but it works, especially for me since I'm blind. Get your child a leash and keep her on it. They offer alot of stretch room, which makes the child believe she is independent: but, she won't be running away. Also, if you want her to have space to run outdoors, get a play yard. They are little plastic fences, and you can make it as big or as small as you want, and she can still run in the grass. She is not old enough, imo to be let run free. I hope I've helped.

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#13 of 21 Old 09-27-2008, 08:24 AM
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My son is 18 months and does this as well. It scares me beyond belief. He has such a strong impulse to run, that he can be walking with me, holding hands, and doing fabulous, but then when we get to the car and I have to let go of his hand for MAYBE 5 seconds to unlock the car, he will bolt. He is nearly as fast as I am now too, so I have to run at top speed, but he will still get at least a half block away from me before I can catch him. He giggles and screeches the whole way too.

I have a leash for him, and have used it occasionally. It is a great tool when used appropriately, but I do feel self conscious about it. The one thing that I have also done is to hold his arm between my knees while unlocking the car, but he HATES it and will scream and cry the entire time (literally seconds, but still...). There just doesn't seem to be a good way to deal with the running for those few seconds without having him attached to my body all the time.

I am so right there with you mama.

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#14 of 21 Old 09-27-2008, 09:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the start/stop game idea. It sounds like it would feed into her need for a game, and help her learn the concept!
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#15 of 21 Old 10-07-2008, 11:09 AM
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My oldest son (2years old) is also known for taking off as soon as there isn't a hand holding onto him. I try to use his harness, which he is usually good with, but he also gets to a point with it, when he knows it's holding him back, and then the tantrums start. However, in dealing with the "leash" remarks, I try to inform people that it is a "safety issue" and explain why I use it. My youngest son (5months) is in the carrier, and to try and just let my oldest run free, it is near impossible to run with the little one, hence why I try to use either the harness, or the stroller.

We just found out the other day that we are expecting again in June, and I know that I have to help my oldest out as much as possible before the arrival of our 3rd. Wish us luck.

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#16 of 21 Old 10-07-2008, 01:02 PM
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The fact that he is laughing when he does this suggests that he enjoys the reaction that he is getting from you. Mommy's make "silly" faces when they're concerned, and it's fun to see a tired adult go sprinting after a much more energetic toddler (let's face it, these sweet little devils are quick, lol), whereas you might not be so into the "game" if they're just running around a safe-zone.

I suggest two courses of action:

1) find a word to use that specifically means to stop action - We use the word "Hold" for safety purposes around Archery, Thrown Weapons, etc. and teach it to the children. This avoids the dreaded "no" or "stop" that kids learn to ignore or dislike quickly and lets everyone know that there is a potentially dangerous situation so we should stop immediately and make sure we are aware of what's going on in our surroundings.

2) dullify your reaction - in a situation where there is not a safety concern, I might suggest eliminating the reaction thus making them bored with the activity, however in a safety situation this is not an acceptable answer. Instead, refrain from excitable speech and dramatic displays. Get ahold of your child and quietly but sternly remove them from the situation and place them in time-out. Explain simply and briefly their reason for being there and leave them to become bored. At 20 months old, your child is old enough for short time-outs. By doing this you've eliminated the exciting reaction and they've now lost precious fun time.
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#17 of 21 Old 10-08-2008, 01:51 PM
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When dd was a baby I gave her a choice between holding hands or being carried in danger situations, I also stayed right next to her anywhere she could get to the street when she was exploring. I also screeched the one time she did start going for the street, it was a truly terrifying thing for me and she could tell and she stopped.
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#18 of 21 Old 10-08-2008, 02:00 PM
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We also make the rule that dd has to hold hands near roads, sidewalks, crosswalks and parking lots. Anywhere there's cars nearby. She doesn't always like it, but too bad. If you or the caregiver at the time knows that they can't keep up with him if he takes off, you just have to assume it's going to happen and act accordingly - strap him into a stroller, carry him, etc., until you can put him down somewhere safe. It's why I don't take dd to the playground during the day by myself even though it's a two minute walk away. It's open with just a simple, open fence in places and while there is a big grassy area between the jungle gym and the road, she's taken off and it was hard to catch up with her. So until she's older, we wait until dh can go too.

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#19 of 21 Old 10-08-2008, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by mrl34 View Post
At 20 months old, your child is old enough for short time-outs. By doing this you've eliminated the exciting reaction and they've now lost precious fun time.
I disagree. As an education specialist and mother of a 19-month-old.
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#20 of 21 Old 10-08-2008, 03:28 PM
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mama all i want to say is repeat, repeat, repeat. and they will eventually get it.

if sometimes u feel you ARE going to be at an unsafe place where you cannot have ur child run out then either put her in a stroller or a leash.

but she WILL get it.

with my dd since we played on the sidewalk i would explain every single time. then when she was 18 months old she ran out on the street in the split second i didnt have my eyes on her. and i reacted. i went ballistic and screamed and ran to get her totally terrified. and then in a calm voice told her never to do it again. since i screamed she kept looking at my face and just kept staring at me the whole time we walked back and talked. she is 6 now and has never run out on the street again. i think it was my reaction. my terrified look that made her realise how important it was that she never run out on the street.

i would also say practise, practise, practise.

also instead of just trying to stop her give her limits. she can run to a certain point and hten stop there. give her a specific v. visual boundary. i found and still do with my dd, that limits was easy on her rather than a no.

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#21 of 21 Old 10-08-2008, 04:51 PM
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My son is a runner. He's 19 months old. When we go out he has the option of in my arms, in the stroller or in the harness. He doesn't listen well to stop or no so this way he is kept safe. He will ocasionally hold hands, but not for very long because it's not that comfortable.

Mama of three.
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