Son missing for an HOUR today. How to "discipline" him? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 08-24-2009, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 5-year-old son and his 4-year-old friend (next door neighbors) were following both moms (me and the neighbor) in between houses today. We were saying goodbyes at my home and out of the corner of my eye I saw the boys go out to our deck. This is normal. About two minutes later, we wandered out to bring our boys in and get them to their respective homes. They were GONE. We checked in every nook and cranny of both houses, wandered the neighborhood up and down, enlisted the help of several neighbors, and after about 30 minutes of not finding them, called the police. Right as the police arrived, an across the street neighbor drove up in her car. "I found 'em," she said. There they were, in her car, safe and sound. I fell apart.

That hour was the scariest hour I've had yet as a parent. They had wandered down the street (no, they must have ran at breakneck speed), crossed a path into another neighborhood (which I went over to so I could check there earlier, with no sign of them) and gotten lost. The neighbor was so smart to hop in her car and start driving around to find them. I am so thankful for her smarts. And her calm. Because as soon as I saw my Jack, I fell apart.

When we came home, I couldn't even talk to him. I listened to his story, and then I told him to wait for Daddy to come home and we would discuss what would happen from there. But my husband and I are stuck about how to proceed. How to you "discipline" a kid for this? Does anyone have any suggestions? I am still so upset at the event. I feel like I am the one who needs to be disciplined. But my son DOES know the rules. He broke them. He knows that. I feel like there has to be a consequence.

What would you do? Please, any gentle but firm discipline advice would help.
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#2 of 10 Old 08-24-2009, 09:24 PM
 
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I would think the "logical" consequence would be: we can't trust you to be outside alone, so you can't be outside alone.
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#3 of 10 Old 08-24-2009, 09:29 PM
 
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I dont think its a discipline issue. My son went missing at the mall when he was 2-3 yrs old and it was the longest 5 mins of my life. He knew the rules, heck it was the play area and I should have been watching him. I think your case is a good opportunity to make sure your DS knows his name, address, phone number etc. It sounds like he may not have known these things as someone drove him home?? Also my kids are drilled with the info to NEVER get into anyones car they dont know... I woudnt punish DS but I would keep teaching him what to do incase you get seperated again. Think how much smoother things would have gone if someone spotted him, and your ds could have told them his name and phone ## and that person called you.
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#4 of 10 Old 08-24-2009, 09:43 PM
 
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I think you have to talk to him about what the heck happened before you decide what to do about it.

It may have been a series of relatively innocent, but not really rational decisions. When I was 5, I took the wrong bus "home" from school because I didn't like my busdriver. I knew that different buses went different places, but, somehow, I didn't consider that when I got on the wrong bus. I'm guessing that being lost and then seeing you so upset has made a bigger impression than any punishment.
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#5 of 10 Old 08-25-2009, 03:25 AM
 
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I remember when I was in Kindergarten, I walked home with another child and played at his house without ever thinking to tell my mom. (Yes, this was back in the day when kids walked the 1 1/2 blocks to school by themselves!) I couldn't understand why my mom was so upset or why she was really mad at the other mom. (The other mom didn't call and ask if my mom knew I was there.) Thinking of it from a mother's perspective, I can now see that my mother must have been terrified!

I would:
1. Talk to him about how HE felt when he was lost. My bet is that he got scared.
2. Talk to him about how YOU felt and how upset you were.
3. Keep him within eyesight for a couple of days.

Really, this is the kind of impulsive behavior that is well within the range of typical kids this age.

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#6 of 10 Old 08-25-2009, 08:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeldamomma View Post
I'm guessing that being lost and then seeing you so upset has made a bigger impression than any punishment.
I totally agree. I can only imagine, being 5 years old, and not knowing where I was. I bet he was just as scared as you were.
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#7 of 10 Old 08-25-2009, 08:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone_kneegrabber View Post
I would think the "logical" consequence would be: we can't trust you to be outside alone, so you can't be outside alone.
Yep, he'll have to be supervised until you feel secure about him again.
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#8 of 10 Old 08-25-2009, 08:44 PM
 
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Oh, I'm so sorry you had to go through this.

An hour is a LOONG time in a situation like this. I lost my dd in similar circumstances, due to a pure miscommunication, not disobedience. It broke something inside me honestly, even though we found her safe, with the help of the police, 45 min later. She was 9. We got her a cell phone and drilled her in carrying it always, because I just cannot deal with not being able to reach her.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

I would:
1. Talk to him about how HE felt when he was lost. My bet is that he got scared.
2. Talk to him about how YOU felt and how upset you were.
3. Keep him within eyesight for a couple of days.

Really, this is the kind of impulsive behavior that is well within the range of typical kids this age.
This.

Three years later, my dd still remembers and talks about how I cried when they brought her home. That made a huge impression on her.

I think the most logical consequence is being allowed less freedom until he shows you that he can communicate more effectively and follow the rules better.
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#9 of 10 Old 08-25-2009, 08:45 PM
 
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I'd keep him within sight range for a while. To me it's a trust issue, especially if he wasn't too scared. If you can't trust him to stick around then he'll need to be watched for a while and be in the room with you. With maturity comes freedom but he needs to follow the safety rules that are in place.

I've talked about this with DD too. I told her that when I go somewhere I let her know where I am so she isn't scared. So I want her to do the same thing. She gets it.

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#10 of 10 Old 08-26-2009, 12:41 PM
 
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Is it a pattern? One of our neighbors is a wanderer (he is 9 now). Whenever I would watch him when he was younger I had to keep an extra eye on him (he would want to go home, leave, and not tell anyone). Especially when I would take all of the kids somewhere. He would just see something that would attract him and go (very independant and curious!). It was very stressful for me because I would have 3 other kids that would stick with me, but still need my attention. Now that he is older, whenever I take him with us somewhere, I have him repeat his boundaries to me (like if we go to the park, I specifically tell him how far he can go; if he needs to go to the bathroom, we have to gather everyone and go together, etc.).
I would say that if it's not something that he usually does, just gently explain how worried you were and to not leave the yard again. And for your own peace of mind, don't leave him out of your sight again until you have recovered!!
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