How do I get my 3 year old to behave in public? He refuses to hold my hand etc. and runs off.

Rebecca - posted on 05/08/2011 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My 3 year old boy listens most of the time but lately he doesn't listen in public. he knows to look for cars when crossing street and that he is supposed to hold my hand, but he never does. As we get close to the exit of a store he sprints off and it's like playing tag, you're it. I get so scared that he is gonna run into the road and get hit by a car. I don't know how to get it through his thick skull that you stay close to mommy ALWAYS! No matter what!. Any suggestions?

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Tiffany - posted on 05/11/2011

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Plan for it and when you get close to an exit grab his hand and say we hold hands when going in the street and don't let go. You can quiz him in the car before going into a store. "Now what do we do when we get out of the car?" Hold hands... Let him know there is NO choice but plan for it too so you are ready to anticipate him not doing it.

Ali - posted on 05/11/2011

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This might sound bad, but it seems to work well with my wild boys. Scare them into it! I tell them exactly what will happen to them if they were to get hit by a car. I explain to them that it is quite possible that they will NEVER see us again! I know, it sounds bad, but sometimes fear is a good motivator. I have also explained to them what it means to break your neck... Like when they are climbing somewhere they should not be. I have told them about being paralyzed, in a wheelchair, unable to move, play sports, etc. It may sound ugly, but I find that they begin to understand the seriousness of my warnings! Just a thought. Maybe I'm a "bad" mom for doing it this way. But, I believe in brutal honesty and reality checks. I believe my kids understand fully and so I tell them the truth. Another thing I do that seems to work... If you care... When I want them to stay with, or at least NEAR me, in public places I tell them to "Stay where you can see ME." This seems to make more sense to them. When we say, "Stay where I can see YOU" they just don't fully comprehend when they can be seen by you. So, I make sure to tell them, "Stay where YOU can see ME!"

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Elizabeth - posted on 05/10/2011

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We have "the talk" before we get out of the car. "The talk" consists of what behavior I expect from them while in the store or wherever we are.
Example ..we are going into the store and we have to walk through the parking lot first..the cars cannot see you if you aren't with mama...so you have to stay with me..and there is no running, screaming..or whinning.

When we have paid and are ready to leave and go to the parking lot..we get the same speech about..we are going to the parking lot and the cars cannot see you ..you have to stay with mama.

This works for my children and you better believe I follow through on any threat I put out there if they aren't behaving...if I say you get a timeout..then you get one no matter where we are. Of course, once you follow through on this ..the threat is enough to beat them into submission so to speak lol

Jennifer - posted on 05/10/2011

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I agree. At that age I think I still took my stroller out for places like the mall as a visual reminder to my (then 3, now 5 years old) daughter. If she wanted to walk I would tell her that if she doesn't behave she would be going back into the stroller. And if she didn't behave or listen, she did. My younger daughter, now 20 months old also gets the same dose of medicine. If she wants out, OK, but if you don't listen you will be going back into the stroller and if she doesn't listen, she goes back in. She tries to fight being buckled back in but once there she cries briefly and then stops because she knows already that I am not going to let her back out.
And as for grocery stores and the like with carts? When my daughter was 3 she either held my hand if I didn't have a cart (and if she didn't want to I would probably put her in a cart) or went into the cart more often than not simply because I didn't want her getting lost. If she wanted to go out it was the same rules as the stroller. Don't listen or behave you're going in.

Kristina - posted on 05/09/2011

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i had to keep my son in the cart every time we went out. and if he wanted his freedom to walk around out of the cart i had to explain that he had to walk with me or he would go back in. he would act the same in public at 3 they r just testing. my son is 4 now and behaves very well at the store but the instant he misbehaves i tell him hes going in the cart if he doesn't stop he listens. im not one who likes the child leashes said i would never have one but i had to use it with my son he had one of the ones that looked like a monkey backpack . i kept it in my car and told him i would use it if he didnt behave he didnt like that.

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