Page 16 - AK Parent Sum20
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ask the expert: the early years
My toddler is a runner. As soon as we arrive anywhere, she takes off running. If I chase her, she looks back at me laughing and runs faster. How do I deal calmly with this while keeping her out of danger?
few things to try next time:
 This is a great question many parents ask, and there are several things she might be trying to tell you. Here are a
I wonder if they are looking for you to come play with them. Young kids crave relationships, the looking back at you and laughing sounds like they want to play. Frontloading play time with your child makes it much easier when it’s time to discipline. You can make a game of it by catching your child and say “Oh, we don’t run here, I’m going to catch you and bring you back” and playfully bring them back to the area you want them to run in.
Redirect them. Try playing in a different area or bring a toy that can be used at the playground-a spoon to dig with, a cup for scooping, a ball or Frisbee to throw and roll, bubbles, a container for catching bugs, or turn the game around and say, “you catch me!” and turn to run the other way, bringing the child with you.
Ignore the unwanted behavior. Move yourself to a different area while saying “I’m not going to chase you, I’m going to go play over here, come play this
with me!” Keep an eye on them to ensure safety and intervene if they are headed towards something unsafe. When they come back to play with you, praise the behavior and begin playing together.
Set expectations ahead of time. It’s very
normal for toddlers to exert their independence and constantly test limits. Setting expectations might
take some thinking on your feet as to what area/s you are comfortable with having your child play in. For instance, “When we get to the playground you may run around between the slide and swings. If you run away, then you hold my hand (or ride in the stroller, etc).” Highly praise the behavior you want to see over and over. When they run away, kindly but firmly follow through: “Uh-oh you ran away, you need to hold my hand” (you may need to pick them up to help them
be safe). When they have calmed down, let them go explore and play again, and praise
the behavior.
  { Rachel Boudreau, LMSW, works for Help Me Grow Alaska part time } and is a mental health therapist part time. Rachel has been working with children and families for 13 years and has experience in special education, children’s behavioral health, coaching teachers, and supporting family systems.
16 alaska parent summer 2020

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