Done a runner: What to do when your child runs away in anger

Kinderling News & Features

With discipline such a hot parenting topic, and increasingly the message from experts and science being that time outs are not good for kids, what do you do when your child seems to actually want that?!

I get asked this question a lot. Parents and other big people who have chosen to be very connection-focused in how they are raising their children and handling discipline, are utterly baffled when their child actually won’t receive the offered connection in a moment of frustration or upset. What to do?!

Are you supposed to go after a child who is fleeing you rather than seeking you?

And if you don’t go after them, isn’t that kind of like a time out – where you have allowed the connection between you and your child to be broken at a time when they most need you?

Well, not exactly. And here is why.

Sometimes when the brain gets all angry and fired up, it goes into a defensive position. It is as though it is in survival mode and all it can manage is fight and/or flight. If you have a child who gets upset and angry and then takes off, good news! They are super normal!!

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Here is how to handle it so you stay connection-focused with them, and always in charge as the nurturer in that situation. Rather than huffing a deflated, “Fine then! Go to your room if you want!” as your hugs are swatted aside by your child, instead, with a caring tone, do the following:

1. Will it to be so

Give their flight to their bedroom (or wherever they are headed) your blessing. Say something like, “It looks to me like you want some time – of course you can have some time. Go ahead sweetie.”

And then;

2. Cast their gaze forward to a time of reconnection 

Quickly follow up your blessing of their flight with a promise of subsequent connection, “Listen love, you take whatever time you need. I’m going to come by in a few minutes to check on you…”

After a few minutes have passed (you be the capable judge of how many is a “few” to you and your child) you can give the door a gentle tap and say, “Just seeing how you are doing…”

If they shout you away, you say, “No problem – looks like you are wanting a little more time – that’s all right love – I’ll check in on you in a bit”.

Eventually they will soften. And what you want when they do is that their connection-focused heart looks all around and sees … YOU!

You – their confidante.

You – their most understanding big person.

You – the one that just gets it.

You – the one that just gets them.

This post originally appeared on Dr Vanessa LaPointe's blog.