Ugh. I hate it when toddler safety issues and toddler behavior and discipline issues are all one and the same. It’s even less fun when the toddler safety issue is a potentially life threatening one. So, what’s the issue? Norton is an independent little boy. He always has been. And that’s great. I also love that he’s so energetic and wants to run and play. It’s fantastic that he’s curious about the world around him and wants to explore it all. He’s completely fearless about his explorations. Those are all behaviors that I want to encourage. You know, except for when I don’t. I don’t want to encourage those behaviors when he’s endangering himself.
There is one huge concern that keeps coming up: Norton wants to take off when we’re outside. In the park, this is a non-issue, of course. The neighborhood park is fenced in, so there are only two entrance/exit points. Typically, when he decides to take off through one of those points, it’s at the one where our Phil & Teds Explorer stroller is parked. He decides he’s ready to go, marches off towards the stroller, and climbs in. In Fort George Park (the really huge and amazing park downtown), there are sixty some acres for him to run around, so it takes a while for him to run somewhere that he shouldn’t.
Over the last week, though, his taking off has become problematic. He’s tried to run into the street instead of get in the car when we stopped at the neighborhood park on the way home. He’s tried to take off in the parking lot at Fort George Park a couple of times. Last night, he took off across the front yard and ran across the neighbor’s front yard. Our neighbor was quicker than me; she saw him while she was eating, ran out her front door, and snatched him up.
I’m not a fan of spanking for toddler discipline. There are multiple studies about how it’s damaging, et cetera. But when it’s a toddler safety issue like this one… and a potentially life threatening one… I have spanked him or slapped his hand. I don’t do it because I’m mad. I’m terrified that he’s going to get hit by a car. It’s not unheard of for a small child to get backed over in a parking lot. Nor is it unheard of for a child to get hit when darting out into the street.
We have a Winnie the Pooh backpack leash, but it’s not something that we use frequently. It’s just not practical for those times when I’ll only need it for thirty seconds… but I’m running out of ideas. Did you ever have a fearless toddler who is also a runner? How did you curb that behavior?