Wednesday, 29 April 2015

How to avoid a runaway toddler?

Our little 20 month old monkey is VERY crafty and has taken to making the most of every opportunity to climb, escape and generally put himself in harms way.  This is new territory for me as my daughter wasn't this way inclined at all! 

So what are we doing? Well, following his latest escape attempt which resulted in Dad running down the street after him in a teeny tiny towel after jumping out of the shower, we have implemented a few simple extra security measures:
  • Lock your doors and remove the keys as it doesn't take the crafty ones very long to work this out.
  • Consider fitting a latch if you are worried you or someone else in the house (aka partner or absent minded siblings) might forget.
  • Use window locks.
  • Keep garages and sheds locked up if the children are playing outside. 
  • Safety gates can also be useful to keep them away from open doors or other temptations.
There are also a few tricks and games that I have picked up along the way to help keep control of everyone.

I would highly recommend using reins in busy places and car parks, even getting into and out of the car at home if you don't have garden gates and live by a road.  I know some people find them controversial but believe me if you have more than one child to hold onto and a few things to carry while trying to get into or out of the car they are essential.  There are so many cute styles these days too, some with little back packs and soft toys but I go with the bog standard plain variety and my little boy loves them!

Explain your expectations to your toddler before you leave the house or car.  For example 'You need to stay with Mummy and hold my hand while we are in the car park'.  You might not think they understand yet but you might be surprised and this is a good routine to get into anyway.

Get your little one to sit down on the doorstep while you lock the door.  Its usually just enough of a distraction so they don't run off before you are ready to run after them!  Try and give them something to carry back into the house to make them feel important and avoid any de-tours.  If you have multiple children with you get them to hold hands and stay together, keep hold of the littlest or most likely to wander.

Teach them the 'Stick like glue' game in car parks so you know where everyone is at all times.  This is a really basic game we started while trying to get everyone in the car.  When a grown up shouts 'stick like glue' everyone has to keep a body part stuck on the rear car lights (or any other bit of the car that works for you) and if they let go they are 'out'.  You can shout out new body parts every 30 seconds if you want to keep them engaged or are taking longer than you thought.  We do Hi 5's at the end and it works a treat especially if you are enthusiastic.

As they get a little older we play the 'stop-go game'.  To teach older toddlers to follow instruction and allow them a little freedom we started to play the stop go game in parks.  It's another simple idea where they have to stop or go according to your commands and if they mess up they are out and have to come back but if they do well they get to be the leader.  Its especially good to practice when they are on scooters and could zoom off.

Discipline them for not coming to you or stopping when called and for running away etc. I'm just talking a stern face to face chat with them here so that they know it is just not acceptable.  Don't forget to reward them for doing well, just a little enthusiastic praise will do the trick.

Give your littlest plenty of chances to run free where it is safe.  Don't be tempted to use reins or harnesses for ease when you are at a park or other safe places.  I know its tempting if you have a runner but its not great for them and they will struggle to learn to be independent and follow your instructions.

Make sure you explain to them the places where they should always stop and wait for you, for example road curbs, shop exits, lifts, escalator etc and why.  Have a little family chat about it and get them to come up with ideas of places too.  The older they are the more they will understand but start to tell the little ones too.

When you are out and about (and have time) let them decide if it's safe to cross the road.  The good old green cross code can't start early enough if you ask me and this way they will be much more aware of the danger.

 So this is what we do to try and contain their crazy urges to run away and I hope it gives you some new ideas and inspiration but I'd love to hear any ideas you have or tricks you use to keep everyone safe so please do comment!

photo credit: <a href="">22 January 2012</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

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