how can i stop my 2 year old boy from running away?

Natasha - posted on 10/08/2010 ( 16 moms have responded )

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My 2 yr old son is almost impossible to control when we are out of the house. He regularly tries to run away from the playground or across the road. I have tried teaching him to stay close to me by turning it into a game, and/or using a reward system but it doesn't work. I got a terrible fright today when he managed to escape from the playground before i had noticed and i had only turned my back for a minute. I found him in another part of the park entirely and no matter how cross i appeared, he just laughed and then tried to do it again today. I use time out at home and I dont want to ever hit him but i am at a loss of what to do and i am very worried about the potential dangers of him doing this - we live in central london. He has an 8 week old baby sister which i know obviously causes him to act out more than usual but he was already trying to run away before she was born. Any suggestions?? I don't have friends whose kids run away like this.

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Krista - posted on 04/27/2011

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I've been having this trouble with my son 2.5 year old too. Last summer when we'd go for walks, I'd make him hold my hand to cross the street and he'd have a tantrum and I'd end up carrying him across. Now I've got a 5 week old in the stroller, so he needs to learn to stay with me and hold my hand to cross the street. On our first walk together, he refused to hold my hand to cross the street, so I said "Okay, we're going home" and turned the stroller right around. He screamed no and then gave me his hand. We've been out on quite a few walks now, and he knows that he has to stick with me or there's no park and no more fun. I've also given him time outs in public if he takes off, or if he tries to run off while I'm getting groceries, for example, he gets stuck riding in the cart, which he hates. He's slowly getting it and is testing me less now. Good luck with your son!

Emily - posted on 04/25/2011

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Believe it or not, it's perfectly normal. He's in what doctors call an "expoloratory phase" which basically means, he's interested in checking everything around him out. He wants to see, touch, taste... he's curious and that's healthy. What's important is that he understands boundaries. My daughter went through the same phase, and I tried everything to get her to stop running off. I had to buckle down and teach her WHY it was important. When I was on a playdate, I had one of my good friends come up behind my daughter (who had, yet again taken off to the other side of the park) and grab her. She scared the bejesus out of her for a minute, but then I explained to her that if she isn't careful - that's what can happen. Someone can come up behind her and take her, and there's no telling what would happen after that. While it's a harsh reality to learn; kids need to learn that young so they know to be aware of their surroundings and stick close to their "protectors".

Deborah - posted on 12/10/2012

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Hi, my granddaugher 2 1/2 years old was taken by CPS from her mother because she kept getting out of the house and running down the street more then once. Anyway, we now have her and she is a runner. I haven't had many problems except for this past weekend we went to the local Christmas parade and she ran off. Luckily in the church parking lot. But when I told her to come back she didn't listen. I took after her and she kept running. I am very frustrated as she doesn't not listen at all. I am going to get one of those backpack animals with a leash on it. I think that is the only way to handle it at this point. I know people don't like them but I can't have her running out in the street or running from her grandma either!

Serene - posted on 04/27/2011

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Hi, I was in the sam situation, i was pregnant and in my third trimaster with my dauther, my son would take off through the park and i went running after him when I caught up with him he laughed about it and thought that it was a game to him. I kept telling him that he could get hit by a car or someone could kidnap him. When I was 37 weeks pregnant I went to my moms house with my son, he was now 24 months old. We were in the back yard playing with the dogs and I went to sit down on the stoop and I called my sons name to come over and sit down with me and when I noticed that he wasn't coming I got up and walked to check on him and he was on the other side of the fence chasing the dogs laughing. I started yelling for him to stop. That boy ignored me and took off down the alley following those dogs and my big pregnant ass is chasing him yelling for him to stop. He laughed at me and kept on going. He crossed over to 4 streets threw the alley, I was crying and praying that no car would come flying around the corner and hit my baby. I was screaming and finally when he stopped. At that moment I snapped and gave him a good ass whipping. I explained to him that he could of gotten kidnapped or ran over by a car. I guess it worked because he stopped running off. Now he is 34 months old and when he crosses the street he always says,'Look both ways when cross the street and make sure you don't get hit by a car." I'm sorry if it offends anyone that i spank my kids but, sometimes you have to do what you have to do to keep your kids safe and if redirection or the dog on the leash doesn't work then I'm all for spankings. It'll teach them a lesson. BY the way 3 days later I went into labor and had my daughter within 3 hours of being at the hospital...LMAO maybe it was an easy labor because my son had me chasing him all of the time....

Roxy - posted on 12/30/2013

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I am shocked and appalled at the illiteracy exhibited in these posts. These mothers need to learn how to speak and write! It is painful to read. How are you as mothers supposed to teach your children proper English when you cannot even write a simple post. Now, as far as the running trick that toddlers do, apparently this is quite common. However, it is my understanding that if it involves life or death, it is completely correct to spank the child. The one post that made sense is the one where the mother was pregnant and ran 4 blocks after her toddler and finally spanked him. I believe that this is the opportunity for the child to learn to obey the parent. My grandson loves to run and his mother has taught him the "runaway"game. Unfortunately I think this has backfired and now he thinks its OK to run away. We are going to have to stop this game for the time being and reinforce that running away is not OK, especially near the street.

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Evelyn - posted on 01/02/2014

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Why not teach the child to hold your hand in some circumstances and in others leave the place you are at and go home? He needs to learn that he can not just get up and run like that. And a slight swat to his behind won't hurt him but will get his attention the next time he runs off like that. He could have been kidnapped in that side of the park! You are the parent! Do not be afraid to set bounds for him and teach him that he needs to stay with you. I also did not use those leashes/backpacks that are hooked to kids with my own. My kids are 24 and 17 and yes they had the leashes back then. My kids learned to hold hands when walking, hold the cart side in the stores, ride in the stroller when we went certain places and I have one of each. Both were very curious but the minute that stroller came out while they were toddler age, they both got in it, got hooked in and did not fight me when they saw things that interested them (I took them to see it).

User - posted on 12/09/2013

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wow teach your kid that their dogs instead of now learning that they have to do as their told,, and they dont work like you think ive seen people with that on their kids they pull them and they bounce everywhere and scream yeah works really good why not just hold there hand and if they do take off grab them and tell them that theres bad people that can hurt you if you run away u need to stay near mommy so i can watch you if that dont work then if they do it put them in time out right there my son stopped doing that after he ran away and almost got hit by a car but i grabed him right before and it scared the crap out of him and he never ran away again and he's 10 now and still dont i think parents should scar the crap out of them more and tell them the truth about the world that people will hurt them and no one cares but family

Dannie - posted on 12/08/2013

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my daughter would do the same thing. so one day a friend of mine told me about those leash backpacks. they work amazingly. its just like a small backpack but it has a detachable leash hooked to it

Madeleine - posted on 11/25/2013

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I just love your story, it gave me a real good laugh. My 2 year old boy just continues to run away from me at the park no matter what I do. We had a park episode this morning, we met with a friend that has a daughter the same age. She is so good, just plays on the park equipment or sits on the picnic rug while we have a snack together. Not my Eli, he's running off and doesn't even look back to check just keeps going and going. He was so close to running on the road when a car was coming it wasn't funny. Whats extra annoying is we have a good park that has a safety fence but he keeps going and standing in the middle of other people's picnics and bbqs and screams and kicks when I try to take him away to the play equipment. I am an older mother so running after him isn't as easy as it used to be. Lol.

Crystal - posted on 04/27/2011

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girl i understand what you are going threw cause i have a 3 year old an she never wants to stay where i tell here an we have tried everything, we have spank her we have done the time out we have had my sister help us out to let her know that mommy & Daddy dont do things to be mean its just we want her safe..an since she started school she is doing better...maybe you should try singing him into school a head start or first step my little girl goes to first step I love them cause not only do they help her with listing to us but she also is having more fun see im 6m pg an she is three its just me an her all day until 6 when her daddy gets home so when she went to school it help cause she is around kids her age ..but girl he will be fine an you are a great mom so dont worry

Jean - posted on 04/27/2011

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i have put reins on my son and even at park hold onto him while walking from swing to slide etc he is not scared if he cannot c me just hope he grows out of it in the meantime reins will be used

Pam - posted on 04/25/2011

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They also sell knapsacks that can adjust comfortably to your child and then velcos to the parents wrist. (the parent is on a leash not the child) They are super cute and almost look like a stuffed animal. I'm not sure who makes them - I might've found it on Amazon??

Don't know how well it would work at a park but it's a dream in an airport - fits a small drink and a couple of toys too.

Cynthia - posted on 04/25/2011

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My two year ols does this ALL the time. People look at me funny but I try and use the tether strap that goes around there wrist as much as possible. I don't think anything is wrong with it, I think it would be worse if my daughter got hit by a car or kidnapped. If you've ever seen those little backpacks with the long strap attached sometimes depending on the model the strap will come of the main unit to be used for older children(like ours), very handy!!

Sarah - posted on 04/25/2011

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Just the other day I was in the dentist chair and my husband had to go to the front desk to sign something, leaving our 16 month old daughter in teh room with me... well someone knocked on the door and the nurse let her out! Good thing I noticed after a few seconds, I jumped up with a hole half drilled in my tooth and found her halfway down the hall outside the waiting room.... totally oblivious that she had done anything wrong. You just have to keep a close eye on them! Maybe use a harness to keep him next to you if you are out shopping or something and he won't use a stroller?

Hana - posted on 04/24/2011

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Hi, I am in the same situation at the moment, my son is 23months and running around when we go outside. I also have 9 week old baby which makes is more difficult - I would appreciate if you could let me know how long that phase lasted with your son and how you managed to teach him at the end to walk and not run. cheers

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