To stop a toddler running off firstly, explain about staying safe then ask your toddler lots of questions about what they need to do when you’re out.
If your toddler can’t speak very well you give them the answers too.
- ‘So Max, when we go to the shops, where do you need to stay? (Yes, you need to stay near Mummy.)
- And why is staying near Mummy important? (Good – so you can stay safe.)
- What’s the new rule about staying nearby when we’re out? (Yes, you hold Mummy’s hand or the buggy – or you go in the buggy or have the reins on.)
- What might happen if you didn’t stay nearby? (Yes, you might get lost, and I wouldn’t be able to see you, and we’d both be sad.)
- And we don’t want that, do we? (No!)
- So what do you need to do if you’re walking? (Good, hold my hand or hold on to the buggy.)
- And who gets to choose if you walk – or go in the buggy or have the reins (Yes, Max chooses! If you stay close you walk. If you run off, you get the buggy or reins!)
- If I’m paying for something and I have to let go of your hand for a minute, what do you need to do? (That’s right – you need to stand near Mummy. So you’re safe.)
Keep asking questions, lots of times during the day, to make sure your toddler fully understands and can give you good answers. And ask them again just before a shopping trip.
Secondly, stick to your rule if your toddler runs off.
It’s really important that you’re consistent about making sure your toddler holds your hand or the buggy. Don’t give them second chances.
The first time they run off, don’t shout, just scoop them up and put them in the buggy or put the reins on for 1 minute. Then let them try again holding your hand. Every time they let go or run off, put them in the buggy or put the reins on. If they run off three or four times, they don’t get any more chances. That way your toddler learns to respect the rule. And keep explaining that it’s their choice.
Finally, give your toddler lots of attention and praise for staying close.
‘Hey Max, look at you- you’re remembering the rule! You’re holding my hand! You’re not running off. You remembered what you need to do to stay safe. That’s good remembering. You’re helping me to keep you safe. And you’re being so cooperative! Thank you’
So the 3 tips to stop your toddler running off are:
- Explain about staying safe then ask your toddler lots of questions.
- Stick to your rule if your toddler runs off.
- And give your toddler lots of attention and praise for staying close.
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