The runaway toddler
Take your eyes of them for a second, and they’re gone. They’re called “bolters”, and raising these adventurous tots can be a nightmare. To find out the best way to keep track of your runaway, read on…
Parents of a “bolter” will tell you that raising their toddler has aged them 10 years. Some little kids just do a runner every time you go out the front door – and it’s frightening.
Many toddlers are not only happy to be near their parents, but scared to leave their sight. But not the “bolter” – as soon as they get into a shopping centre, they go and hide in the clothes racks. In the park, they find a different playground 200m away. At the beach, they run off in a split second to climb the rocks.
Some runaway toddlers are doing it because it’s funny and they get a big response from their parents. Others are just easily sidetracked or distracted. Some are just super-independent and can’t understand why Mum and Dad are fussing so much.
But for your own mental health as well as the safety of your child, there are some measures you can try with a bolter.
- Plan a series of short, easy trips, avoiding busy places until your little one has learnt to stay close.
- Keep them in a stroller – even though this doesn’t teach them to stay close it will ease your manic panic.
- Explain the rules focusing on what they should do not what they should NOT do.
- Praise your child when they stay close.
- If they run off, quickly stop them and explain that for running away, they now have to hold your hand for the next, say, 20 steps.
There has been some vigorous debate online and in the media about using child harnesses. This is a personal choice – and one everybody has an opinion on – but some have expressed concern that using a harness doesn’t teach your child to stay close.
- All toddler behaviour articles
- Toddler wobblies
- Potty mouthed tots
- Toddler discipline
- Don’t leave me mummy – separation anxiety
- The shy toddler
- When toddlers bite
This article was written by Fiona Baker, former editor in chief of Mother & Baby, Pregnancy & Birth and Wondertime magazines for Kidspot, New Zealand's best resource for pregnancy and parenting.
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