How do you tame a child who has their hearts set on running away like a maniac? How do you ward off the judgmental stares from bystanders? How do you keep track of your child while still letting them be a free kid and not a prisoner? Who the hell knows…but I can tell you what I try to do.
My son recently started running and it has been very annoying. He got lost in Target and they had to call a missing child code, he ran away from both my husband AND myself in Walmart, he ran away from his developmental pediatrician while walking to his exam room. It’s happening more and more often. I’m really not sure what makes kids want to run like this. In my opinion for Eli, he thinks it’s a game. He laughs the whole time, especially when we’re chasing him. Because of his delays or diagnosis, he doesn’t pick up on social cues or voice tones very well. For example, when he is running away and we’re yelling “STOP!” he still doesn’t see it as a serious situation. I can tell Eli not to run, stay right here, or hold my hand until I am blue in the face but that little turd is going to run regardless.
My favorite part about these situations is the people standing around judging us. The people silently thinking “Their kid needs to be disciplined.” OK, lady, maybe you’re right. Come on over to my house and show me how to discipline my child so he doesn’t run away. After all, I’m sure you know better than not only the child’s mother but his 3 ABA therapists, two speech therapists, and his developmental pediatrician. My kid is a runner and will most likely be a runner for a long time. And the truth really is, these people watching you in your weak moments have NO idea your child has special needs or whatever your situation is. Does that make it easier when they stare? No, it doesn’t, but the only thing we can do is ignore them and just know that not everyone is going to understand or sympathize with what you’re going through.
Now, how do we keep our kids from running so they’re not the next asshole to jump into a gorilla cage? The only sure way to keep your kids from running away is keeping them in a stroller or putting on one of those cute/embarrassing monkey backpack leashes. This would completely ensure that your child doesn’t run away, but it also limits your child and what they get to experience. When your child gets older they need to be more independent, they should be walking and running and jumping. They should get to pick out their own toy at the store or walk up to an exhibit at the zoo. What I am doing to be proactive with Eli’s running is preparing for what happens when he does run. I’m ordering a name plate to lace into his shoe laces so if Eli gets lost, someone can see his name, my phone number, and our address. I am also looking into a GPS tracker that I can hook onto him when were out that I can track with my phone to help me locate him. I don’t want to restrain my son and keep him from experiencing and enjoying life. Let them be young and free. But keep watching them like a freaking hawk though.