Stop Your Toddler From Running Off

You struggle with the car seat, wrestle with the buggy, final put your toddler down on the pavement, close the car door and turn around to see your toddler toddling off down the street.

Why your toddler makes a run for it

The problem is that your toddler is not running off to be naughty. They want their independence. They are finding their own two feet (literally) and want to be treated like a grown up.

No amount of lecturing you toddler on road safety is ever going to be enough when your toddler is in an inquisitive mood, so here are some tips to help you to keep your toddler safe and stop your toddler from running off.

Explain how you expect your toddler to behave

Before going out with your toddler, tell them how you expect them to behave. Spell it out for them.

Explain they must hold your hand when crossing the road etc. Explain to them that when you say it is OK, they may walk ahead of you, but if you shout their name they must stop where they are and wait for you.

Give your toddler a consequence

After you have explained to your toddler how you want them to behave, explain the consequences if they don't behave.

For example, if they don't stop when you ask them, they will have to sit in their pushchair for five minutes. You can also get reins that go around your child's wrist, so tell them they will have to wear that if they don't do as they are told.

Make sure you follow through with your consequence, as your toddler will soon learn they have to earn their freedom.

Reward your child

If your toddler does well and doesn’t run off, reward them.

This could be in the form of praise and a big hug, a star on your toddlers reward chart etc. It doesn’t have to be big but if your toddler does well, they need to know that they behaved well so they will repeat it.

Let your child run in front

Letting your toddler walk or run ahead of you when you can see ahead and see where they are lets your toddler have some of the independence they are looking for.

If you can see that there are no dangers in front of you and your toddler is not going to get lost in the crowd, let them explore, just make sure they don’t go to far so they cant hear you if you need to get their attention.

Give your toddler the chance to run

A tired toddler is a less inquisitive one.

Let your toddler explore the local park or other safe place, and then they are more likely to tire themselves out and run off less.

Engage your toddler

Your toddler will often start playing up and running off when they are bored, so entertain them. Ask your toddler to push their pushchair so they feel important. Or try asking your toddler to hold your hand because you don’t want to get lost and they need to show you where to go.

Try getting your toddler to be your little helper, picking stuff off the shelf etc. It will make them feel helpful and distract them so your toddler wont run off.