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My son is 2 and very "spirited". He likes to yell, run, jump, throw, etc. he is very sweet, VERY affectionate, and we have never really had any issues with hitting or biting. One thing we are having major problems with is running away from me. I need some advice on how to discourage this behavior and how to not punish him. Usually when he runs away from me (like in a mall and I couldn't find him in between clothing racks for about a minute, while slinging a 3 month old), I yell his name (which only makes him look at me and laugh, as though its a game), and I chase him (which he also thinks means I'm playing a game) and when I finally get to him, I grab his hand/arm and say "Please don not run away from mommy. I need you to stay with me because it is dangerous to run alone" or something to that effect.

I know avoid places like malls without my DH, but just this week he did it at a playground (near water) nad another playground (near a road). He also did it coming out of a coffee shop near a road.

I've tried talking to him before we go places (like, "We're going to the playground to play on the slides and the swings. I really need you to stay where mommy can see you and to not run away from me. When you run away from mommy its very dangerous" etc.) He usually says "Ok mommy" but I don't think he is really comprehending what I am saying.

I really need some advice, because I don't like yelling or grbbing, but I obviously can't let him run away from me.

BTW, keep in mind that all of your suggestions have to take into consideration that I will holding/slinging a 3 month old, so putting the 2yo in a sling or on my back isn't very practical, at least for me. I'm sure some moms can sling 2 kids, but I'm not that strong!

~Emily
 

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Okay, I really really really don't want to have "the great leash debate" again, but I am throwing it out here. Would your son be agreeable with one of those things where it is like two fanny packs that hook to each of you (less like a *leash*...? Or if you have a long playsilk or something you could make a game of him holding on to it and *showing you where to go* or something to that effect?

I am hearing that you are afraid he is going to get into a dangerous situation and it's good to see that you acknowledge his need to explore and know it is developmentall appropriate behavior --- maybe he would be agreeable to the above mentioned suggestions? If not, perhaps just more discussions and brainstorming (at his young age you will be doing most of the brainstorming but still, he can be an active participant) --- maybe you could ask him to tell you or *use his words* or whatever you say, when he wants to explore so you can go with him and supervise -- or keep him in sight. Maybe you can actually give him places to explore so you know where he is and can see him?

For instance, say you are in a store and you are looking at something and there is a rack right next to you in plain sight -- maybe you could make a game of it with him, Point out the rack and say, "hey that looks neat, is that a fort? Do you want to play in that fort?" (or whatever) I know it may seem like I am encouraging him running away from you but I am really not


I am just suggesting that maybe if you recognize his need to explore *before* he actually takes it upon himself to get going and make suggestions that will allow his need for exploration and your need to see him and keep him safe, it may cut down on the random running. Like in the coffeehouse example -- was there anything nearby (not near the road) that you could have pointed out? "check out that bench!" Do you want to go climb up on it?" Things like that... sorry, little one is waking gotta go. Hope any of that helps
 

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I would try teaching him to hold your hand in places where it is a safety hazard for him to run. I would also get a very serious look on your face and use a firm voice and tell him "stop" when he starts to run, it may have more effect than a wordier phrase. I have had some success with showing some of my fear when dd, when dd ran into the road I voiced some of my fear for her safety and she hasn't run into the road again. I would also try to keep to a schedule that allows for some supervised exploration as much as possible.
 

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I just pulled out the leash today. My son is 3.5. I didn't want to go there but I have tried everything else. He took off and I got him. I needed him to stay put while I filled out some paperwork for his swim lessons and he flat out said he would not stay. I asked if i needed to get the harness and he said yes. So I did.
When we were in LV I just put it on him to try it on.He said he didn't like it. I told him that I was just trying it on but that he needed to stay with mommy and daddy and if he had a hard time with that then we would need to put the harness on. I don't like "threatening" but jeez what do you do when it comes to the kids safety. You can't risk getting hit by a car or drowning for some natural consequences.
I only brought out a leash because my very AP/GD friend told my situation to her daughter's play therapist. She said she didn't like the leash but that I may have no other choice. He needed to somewhat earn being able to be "leashless"
 

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For a store type situation I would offer to hold hands, pack a stroller, or some type of comfortable leash the child is okay with, or maybe just something for the child to hold onto (my children have held onto a crocheted chain of yarn and my skirt before when they didn't want to hold hands), or a ride on toy with a push handle if you have one. My kids enjoyed riding in the carts alot, still do sometimes. And having a second adult really helps. It is very hard for me to focus on my list and buying objects and keep a constant eye on my children. Someone on MDC once told me about an alarm that goes onto their shoelace and if they are out of sight you could push a button and the alarm on their shoe would sound off, making it easier to find them. Anybody remember this product, got a link??????
The playground situation sounds difficult. Are you able to follow him and keep him within arms reach so you can touch his shoulder or back to get his attention turned towards you when he darts away? Is there somewhere safer (you mentioned the danger of a road and nearby water) where you guys could get outside play? A fenced in area where he could run and you wouldn't have to worry about anything dangerous? I've avoided certain parks for similar reasons. I like to be able to relax and watch my kids have fun, or play on the equipment with them without having to worry about danger nearby. We are lucky to have quite a few choices closeby though, I'm not sure if that's the case where you are.
 

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I only have one child though he sounds very much like your ds so I wanted to just throw out some stuff. First of all, what you are doing with talking about expectations beforehand is fantastic. Even though it doesn't seem like it, that is when the most info is getting in. be willing to add a logical consequence (we will go home immediately if you start running away from). The thing that helped my son the most around that age was to start giving him other things to do (putting groceries in the cart, find a red piece of clothing nearby, point to cars that are moving)...make games out of stuff you see around you...I spy...Simon's says jump up and down...whatever can keep his energy directed a bit but still keep him close. I know it is hard when you are also trying to shop or concentrate but isn't multi-tasking what parent's do best. And if nothing else works, take the path that my friend with 4 kids under 5 did, put him in a stroller if he can't stick close (safety trumps freedom).

BTW, I tried the leash briefly this winter (because the city we were going to live in for a month had insanely busy streets), my ds just thought it was a great new game where he could just run out to the end of the leash and hang. We got nowhere. Fortunately, once we arrived in the city, the busy streets seemed so scary and noisy to him that he became very serious about always taking my hand.
 

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At our playground my dd (2.5 y/o) ran out into the road. I was unable to catch her fast enough because I was very pregnant and HUGE! Thank God she wasn't hurt or worse! I told her "Stay in the grass or we will go inside". I let her play more and when she got neat the road I would tell her very firmy "do NOT go in that road!" (The "NOT" usually got her attention). And she would think about it and then go play. A little while later, she tested my rule and ran out into the road again. I told her that we had to go inside because she ran into the road. She proceeded to throw a fit and I picked her up and we went back home. she hasn't run out into the road since! Even when the other kids she's playing with do, she stops dead in her tracks. I still remind her, but that shows a lot of restaint on her part and I'm very proud of her!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks so much We went to a fair last night (DH was with us though) and the whole way there we talked about staying with mama and dada. Then whn we were there, we told him either hold hands or be carried, he didn't like that very much, but he held hands reluctantly. There were a few places at the fair that were pretty wide open, and even a fenced in petting zoo that we let him run around to his heart's content, and that seemed to help satisfy him.

I've noticed that he only really does the running away thing when bored. At the grocery store, we ALWAYS get one of those carts that has a car on the front, because he loves them, and he will stay in the cart that way. By the time we are checking out, he is usually "all done, mama, all done", which is when the snacks usually come out.

As far as the mall is concerned, I've only been there 2 or 3 times, only because they have a free playground, and its a good place to go on rainy days or really hot days. But I'm fine with never going again without DH. My son also gets really excited while playing and he gets a little worked up, and the only way he knows to get rid of that energy and excitement is to bolt. There is nothing at the mall that I need badly enough to risk losing my son, ya know?

As far as the playground goes, I'm torn. We live in a apartment, and have a small yard, and usually he is fine at home and will not run away, but it does happen. All of our neighbors are very nice and there aren't many cars, but I still don't want him to run/walk away from me into the parking lot/road. So we try to go to the playground at least 2x a week. I found one nearby that is fenced in that is about a milk from here, so we can walk (well, I usually sling the baby and use the stroller for the older one), which makes the playground adventure last longer (a good thing!), but its not as fun as the HUGE one that is near a road, woods, AND water.

As far as the leash thing is concerned, I have thought about it before and never really got much further than that. I'm not sure how comfortable I am with a leash. PLus, like straighthaircurly's child, I bet my son would find some way to torture me while the leash is on.
When we holds hands and he doesn't want to, he lifts his feet off the ground and hangs from my arm. Or he will let his legs go limp and dangle. When he does that, I usually tell him that he needs to hold mommy's hand (or if we're someplace I tell him he can run to the big tree or whatever), because I need to be able to know where he is.

One thing I noticed that my husband did that I thought was so great last night and I"m going to try, is letting Danny walk on his own next to me. DH told Danny he was welcome to let go of hands and walk next to Daddy, but only as long as he stayed with us. He did great! He sometimes got a little ahead, or a little behind, and then as soon as he noticed he would catch up/wait up so we could walk together. Of course, that isn't practical in a very crowded place, but it worked great last night.

Thanks again for all the advice, keep it coming!!
 

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Just wanted to add that I have 21 month old that sounds exactly like your ds. We jokingly call him our little gingerbread boy..."run, run, fast as you can, you can't catch me I'm the gingerbread man" (Not to his face, but every now and then to each other.) Anyway, I have found a way to keep him near me when walking down the street or in the mall. I usually take the stroller "just in case" for safety reasons. I made "rope" with those plastic link a doos and hooked it to the side of the stroller. When DS wants to walk and it is a busy area I let him hold onto the end of the links and we have no problems. I personally don't like leashes, and know he would not respond well to being harnessed up like that, but our system works because he is ultimately in control. He picks the color link he wants to hold and can actually let go at anytime (though he never has run when using this). That way I don't feel like I am forcing him to stay with me, but setting exceptable boundaries for how far he can move away from me while still being at a safe distance. Good luck!
 

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Your son is mine and mine is yours! Oh my goodness. I could have written all of what you did, from the first description of him to the thinking it's a game to the infamous hand dangle:

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When we holds hands and he doesn't want to, he lifts his feet off the ground and hangs from my arm. Or he will let his legs go limp and dangle.
My son does this all. the. freaking. time.

A leash would NEVER work for us. He'd hurt himself and me with it in about 3.67 seconds.

We use a stroller for short trips into places that don't have shopping carts. They don't work in places like malls because he wants to get out and RUN and he screams the entire time.

We've been going on walks in the evening and let him run/walk a head of us a little ways, but when we cross the street he has to hold our hand. Also, if he runs to far ahead and doesn't stop when we ask, he has to hold our hand.

As far as the park and things go, if he runs away he gets in the car/stroller and we go home.

It's gotten a little better, though not much. In his mind it's all fun and games. I feel for you. We have another little one on the way ourselves.

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I would also get a very serious look on your face and use a firm voice and tell him "stop" when he starts to run, it may have more effect than a wordier phrase. I have had some success with showing some of my fear when dd, when dd ran into the road I voiced some of my fear for her safety and she hasn't run into the road again.


If only. The more firm and scared and upset I act the more he finds it all so hilarious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I think our children are related.


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Originally Posted by Delta

If only. The more firm and scared and upset I act the more he finds it all so hilarious.

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!! Why does my sweet baby boy that I birthed and nursed want to scare the #!&$ out of me?!?!?!?!?!?! I CANNOT WAIT for this phase to be over!

~Emily
 

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My son is 28 months and I thought we were over our running away phase, so I started to relax and sure enough he bolted out of a book store, down the handicapped ramp (a favorite place to run) and straight into the street. I caught him on the double yellow line. I was screaming like a mad woman because I wanted any cars that were approaching to hear me and stop...luckily there were no cars but I was crazy with the thought of him having almost been hit. I was crying, told him it was wrong, dangerous, etc. and took him to the car and tied him into his car seat. He obviously saw how upset I was and tried to "make it better" by giving me a kiss. He is such a terror and then such a sensitive person. So my point is, you can't let your gaurd down, not for a second. This means taking the stroller with you even when you are in a hurry and don't think you will need it, or cutting your shopping list in half if the little runner is getting bored and about to bolt. It is just really hard sometimes because you want them to have freedom, yet they aren't always responsible to handle it. Hang in there all you Moms' of runners...it too shall pass.
Gisele
 

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I'm hear to join the Mothers of Runners support group
-- my DS (almost 3) did this to me last week. He had been so good recently about staying out of the street (still running away, but on the sidewalk
). So, we were walking down the driveway to our car parked on the street. I was carrying DD and he ran ahead of me down the driveway and DIRECTLY INTO THE BUSY STREET. With cars coming from both directions. Fortunately, he then made a direct left turn to our car instead of continuing into traffic. And, the cars had stopped when they saw me running and screaming hysterically.

These are some great tips for trying to curb this behavior.

When are children 'cured' of this?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bugginsmom
I made "rope" with those plastic link a doos and hooked it to the side of the stroller. When DS wants to walk and it is a busy area I let him hold onto the end of the links and we have no problems.
I LOVE this!!!!!!!!!! Too bad my kiddo is getting OUT of the bolting phase now (He's 2-1/2, been a bolter since he could walk).....I'll have to remember this for DD when she gets older!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by DannyJulian89
One thing I noticed that my husband did that I thought was so great last night and I"m going to try, is letting Danny walk on his own next to me. DH told Danny he was welcome to let go of hands and walk next to Daddy, but only as long as he stayed with us. He did great! He sometimes got a little ahead, or a little behind, and then as soon as he noticed he would catch up/wait up so we could walk together. Of course, that isn't practical in a very crowded place, but it worked great last night.

That's a great idea, your dh had. I've noticed that if you make kids responsible, they act (more) responsibly.
I still wouldn't take chances walking along a busy road, but... lol. (not saying that you did at all!! lol).
 

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I have the Eddie Bauer® Harness Buddy. It's a doggie back pack with a leash attached. (You can google it. It's $9.99 at Target or Walmart.)

When my DD first started using it, she fell a few times, and had to get used to it. But very quickly she learned how far she could walk from me. Personally, I think she likes it better than other methods of keeping her close, because she gets to feel independent, yet close. (I don't think they realize they need both independence, yet closeness, ykwim? And they certainly don't know how to get it! LOL!) On top of that, I honestly feel it unconciously taught her she needs to walk near mommy. Now, we can walk together and she won't go far from me by choice. In fact, recently, she asked to hold my hand!!! I was amazed!

I know you think your son will go crazy on a leash. But see if you can borrow one and give it a try a few times. It's not the kind of thing that will make life wonderful in an instant, if you know what I mean. My daughter had a bit of a "learning curve," if you want to call it that. And your son is older, so he might have a negative first reaction. But you never know. It might work out for you in the long run. And considering you've got a younger child, it's probably a good idea to exercise all your options, so that you'll be able to pick and choose what you can do based on the situation. (A grandmother stopped me in the mall to ask about my leash because she was going to have to escort her grandson through an airport. It was a one-time deal, but hey-- Granny knew what her limits were!
)

Faith
(Who get's lots of questions about where she got this particular leash. It also comes as a monkey and a lion.)
 

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I think ds would prefer a leash. But dp refuses to consider it.
Ds doesn't run, but I need him to hold my hands when we are near the road (we live on a 4 lane super busy road).
I figured it would be easier on him to not have to hold hands with me- he could go a bit further, and he wouldn't have to hold his hand out.
Anyways, just a thought to say that I do think that sometimes leashes could be agreeable to kids.
 

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Okay, you say you do not think he understand s you when you explain your expectations ahead of time but I disagree. He may be testing you or simply forget. Thsi is what works fro my kids. (I have three spirited boys so I can relate!)
Continue to remind him in simple terms that you expect him to listen to you. When you get to your sdestination get right down to his level and explain taht he may walk with you or go ahead a bit BUT when mommy calls out "STOP!" or "RED LIGHT!" he has to Stop! And wait for you to catch up. If he does not listen to mommyhe has to hold your hand. Then let him try it out. Let him go a bit ahead of you (practice thsi at a prk or open fiweld ior somewhere safe at first) and call out "RED LIGHT!" If he stops praise him big time, clap , cheer, etc.... If he does not stop, catch him and remind him what you said and hold his hand for a minute while you walk. Then ask if he wanst to try again. He will see pretty fast what teh consequences are and he will like that he still gets some freedom. HTH!
 
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