3 steps to rein in a runner

Kinderling News & Features

According to the universal dictionary of parenting, 'a runner' is the child that once learns to walk is in a mad hurry to leave you and your sanity behind.

Usually between the ages of  one and two-and-a-half these guys are fast,  furious and more than a little bit of a handful when it comes to keeping them safe.

On ‘good’ days you’ll celebrate their fierce independence and curiosity but on normal days when you’re just trying to get stuff done, there’s nothing worse for your nerves than a tiny child with wings on their back.

If that sounds like you and yours, Chris Minogue Kinderling’s go-to expert for all things child related has the solutions you’re looking for.

According to Chris your little runner is an adventurous soul who basically thinks that every time their feet are on the ground it’s time for a game. 

"Your first job is to teach them that it’s not,” Chris told Kindlerling.

1. Start small

Choose a day that suits you best and put everyone in the car and drive to the shops to buy bread or milk. Whatever it is, it can’t be too important and you need to be OK if you don’t get it.

"Drive to the shops, take your child out of the car and tell them to hold your hand. If they run away from you at any point, simply turn around and get everyone back in the car and go straight home," said Chris.

This is attempting to demonstrate to the child that what you are doing is not a game – you are taking the fun out of the adventure.

2. Start taking regular walks to the end of your street

Tell them ahead of time that you’ll be going out the front door and walking to the end of the street. Distract them as you walk by pointing out a flower or a letterbox or a particular colour car.

"Doing this changes their behaviour because you're changing what they can expect to happen once you let go of their hand," said Chris.

 If your child is under three you can also use a pram to teach them this behaviour.

"At the first sign of any running, grab them and strap them in the pram," said Chris. 

3. The final step 

If you've tried the methods above and your child is still running ahead of you, try out one of those leads that ties on your wrist and theirs so if they attempt to run they will be immediately pulled back.

According to Chris said the “running” behavior is basically another way of your child testing boundaries and with time, they'll stop doing it: “You can pre-empt this behaviour if your child is young enough. From 20 months, after they’ve been walking for a few good months, start them on the walk to the corner of the street. Pointing out all the things we discussed in point three. This will reduce them starting to run off on you in the long term.”

Do you have a runner? How are you handling this behaviour?