One parent asked: I have a 4.5 year old boy who has an issue with running in parking lots. It’s a game now. At first I chased him, I now have an infant and can’t run after him. This is scary and frustrating and I know I’m mishandling the situation. But I can’t let him run! I’ve tried bringing objects to entice him but they rarely work. I’ve tried not chasing him and being stern. Haha. Any suggestions to correct this after a year of this game!?
Answer: Game of Chase isn’t for Parking Lots
As the mother of a five year old recently told me, running in parking lots is a dangerous habit many young boys need to break. Start with a 100% refusal to chase them. That’s what makes it rewarding and a game to them. The problem is they need a new habit – built on a simple phrase called “Safety Rules”.
Before you get out of the car or before you enter a parking lot … and always before you approach a street corner do this:
- Pause while holding their hand firmly.
- Get eye contact (you may have to kneel).
- Set the Safety Rule firmly – “You stay by my side or else you will have to hold my hand when we cross. And if you don’t listen, we go home and you lose something special, agreed?”
- Make them repeat it before you take a step.
- If they listen and follow the Safety Rule, give them lots of praise. If not, sorry to tell you that you’ll need to go back and try it again, and again if needed, until they comply.
Many years back I worked with disadvantaged inner city boys who were always bolting off. Often, I’d have to go up and down the stairs of our clinic repeating and practicing safety rules until they realized there would be no playtime until they complied. “I have all day,” I told them with a measured calm voice. “It’s your choice… We’re both missing out.”
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