25 answers

3 Year Old Running Away from Me

Any suggestions on how to stop my 3 year old from taking off on me? I'm at my wits end. Today he took off in a parking lot and I was so furious and scared that I spanked him. I've never spanked him before and I feel horrible but he could have been seriously hurt. He knows exactly what he's doing since he turns around and giggles when he's taking off. I also have a baby generally in a stroller or the cart etc. so I can't exactly leave her where we are at to run after him. AURGH!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you! I need to be better at telling him what I expect beforehand and also not letting go of his hand. I do make him hold hands but many times he starts freaking out so I give him a chance to let go and that's when the trouble starts. I don't believe in harnesses although if cracking down on him doesn't start working within the month I might have to reconsider. He's definitely challenging me on many levels right now and he just turned 3! I want my baby back :-)

Featured Answers

That's a no-no-running away and spanking-get a harness! They are comfortable and humane and may save a life!

2 moms found this helpful

Get a leash, one that goes around the chest not the wrist. You can get ones with a cute stuffed animal backpack for about $10. The backpack kind you can have stuff the leash part in the pocket if you aren't using it. I would try him on the leash and explain it is to keep him safe until he can remember to follow directions that help him stay safe. You could also get a double stroller if you can find one at a yard sale or someplace that isn't too expensive (since you may not use it long).

I'm guessing he is trying to get attention (I also had a 3 year old and a baby at the same time). My son also tested limits a lot when I was pregnant and couldn't chase him. He got time outs wherever we were until he got it. If you are shopping and can get a cart with a toddler and a baby seat you can use the toddler seat for a time out. A few times he ran while someplace dangerous and I held him in a bear hug from behind for the length of a time out. He hates to be restrained so this got his attention and I only had to do it a few times. I also once let him get "lost" in the grocery store for a minute or so (I knew where he was but I was out of his sight at the end of the aisle for a short while). He was scared enough to stay with me. I think he was 4 when I did that. Also my mom helped him learn his full name and both my and my husband's first and last name and what to do if he was separated from us. 3 is a little young to stay calm and ask for help if lost but by 4 or 5 a kid can for example go to customer service and have a parent paged by name (my sister did this once when she was 5 and got lost in the grocery store). You may as well start laying the foundation for those skills.

1 mom found this helpful

When my children were toddlers, I used to have the keep one hand on the stroller or shopping cart at all times when we were walking in the parking lot. I also had the carry around the toddler-sized rolling backpacks filled with their favorite toys and books whenever we were out in public places. It's hard for them to go very far when they are weighed down like that or rolling their backpack behind them.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

At 2 years old my son would do that.
Due to safety, I got him a harness. A cute one that looked like a monkey.
He didn't mind.
I had people, actually tell me "Good for you..." when seeing me out with him especially in crowded areas.

My son, as most kids are, he was REALLY fast when running. And I am a runner and was in school too. I can run fast. But he always outran me. Even for a 2 year old.

One man told me, I am GOOD to do that... his Grandson, was a runner and actually got hit by a car on their street and died.

A Harness, serves a purpose.
For this phase.

Kids at this age, do NOT have, fully developed Impulse-Control, yet.
Their minds and limbs... are not, synchronized.

3 moms found this helpful

That's a no-no-running away and spanking-get a harness! They are comfortable and humane and may save a life!

2 moms found this helpful

Do not let go of the 3 yo hand. Keep him in cart. I NEVER let go of my
3yo hand, ever. They cannot be trusted even if they are the best kid on the
block. They have no impulse control.

1 mom found this helpful

Margie that is so funny. I have a good friend who also used (still uses with her grandkids) "Hands on the van!" She said she got some strange looks once in a while.... all the kids looked like criminals rounded up! LOL

I always held onto the wrist with my son. He too would try to make a run for it. You just don't let go. Tell him in advance that is what is going to happen...you are going to hold him by the wrist until he is in the car. One day when he can walk with you and not let go of your hand you will do it that way...but for today, you are holding his wrist. Let him know in advance that if he twists, it will hurt, but you aren't letting go.
Then stick to it. A moody kid is better than a squashed one.
He is also old enough to start explaining the reason why it is so important (at his height, cars backing up can't see him). I found that giving solid, simple, explanations about safety considerations helped my son be able to control himself.
My daughter on the other hand, voluntarily held my hand until she was about 7 years old. :)

1 mom found this helpful

we hold hands in the parking lot, no other options, freak out or not,
we hold hands cars can hit little ones they don't see.

1 mom found this helpful

They didn't have harnesses when mine were little, but hey had a leash that was like bracelets from their hand to mine, the velcro was heavy duty so they could not rip it off. They HATED it, I used it only a few times and they learned. I always kept it with me.
Funny story, once when my oldest was 9, she kept walking ahead. I kep telling her to stop doing that because she needs to see me as much as I need to see her. She didn't listen. So one day when she was pretty far ahead, I ducked into a clothes rack. I could see her but if she turned around she could not see me. Well, when she turned around she FREAKED! Then I came out where she could see me. She learned her lesson...at least for a few years anyway. Now she's 13...loves to walk ahead, but makes sure she's not too far.

1 mom found this helpful

First off, I don't believe in leashes. I understand they serve a purpose, but still...

I agree with prior posts that the spanking, albeit disheartening for you, was likely justified. I too have resorted to the reactive spanking - although it caught both of us off guard, I think it did get the kid's attention.

There are "Sit and Stand" strollers, or double strollers for just this purpose.

My suggestion is to explain beforehand how you expect him to behave. While you're shopping or whatever tell him what's in it for him - if he behaves, then he can have some fruit snacks in the car.

I realize this is "bribery", but for 3 yr olds, they still think with their stomachs. Give him some relatively healthy treat as a "reward".

Right now for him being mischievous gets your attention-probably especially when he's bored - after shopping, tending to the baby, etc. Tell him how proud you are of him for his good behavior. Tell him that when he's near the street he needs to hold your hand, the stroller, etc.

If need be explain to him how BAD it will be if he gets hit by a car or lost. He's old enough to get a little scared. These are very real, serious consequences.

Finally, PRACTICE with him at home or in your yard. I'm doing this right now with our toddler. We "play" stop-go in the house. When I say stop, he MUST stop. When I say, go, it's ok to go. These little games are teaching him S.T.O.P. means STOP, and I'm not very nice if he doesn't stop when I tell him. Practicing at home leads to better experiences out.

Don't be too hard on yourself for spanking him. Although it was a knee jerk reaction, this is something he MUST learn and behave.

1 mom found this helpful

When my children were toddlers, I used to have the keep one hand on the stroller or shopping cart at all times when we were walking in the parking lot. I also had the carry around the toddler-sized rolling backpacks filled with their favorite toys and books whenever we were out in public places. It's hard for them to go very far when they are weighed down like that or rolling their backpack behind them.

1 mom found this helpful

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