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I am at my WITS' END with regard to my kids running away on/beside busy roads.

(34 Posts)
MadamAnt Wed 03-Jun-09 17:16:44

They are 4 and 2.9. DD (4) has always had a slight tendency to run too far ahead, but the behaviour has really escalated over the last couple of months. Now DS copies her, except he usually runs off in a different direction, leaving me yelling like a fishwife at them both and chasing them like a headless chicken.

They are definitely doing it on purpose to wind me up, and it works. I honestly don't know how to deal with it anymore. We live in a city and our school walk is along some busy nerves are shredded!

I've tried explaining to them ad nauseam why it's dangerous, I've tried praising them when they walk close to me / ride nicely on the buggy, and I've tried the aforementioned fishwife impressions. On two particularly bad occasions I've resorted to hand-smacking, which has made me feel like shit, and seems to have had no lasting effect (other than DS threatening to smack other people's hands blush sad).

I don't see other parents having this problem so why the fuck am I so entrenched in this awful situation??

It's particularly bad if we're walking with other people...what does that mean? I think DD is showing off, perhaps??

Really desperate for advice.

belgo Wed 03-Jun-09 17:18:36


crokky Wed 03-Jun-09 17:22:10

If I had to walk to school along busy roads with them, I would have one in a buggy and one on reins. Mine are slightly younger than yours (3 and 1) so I'm not sure if this would embarass your 4yo, but if so, it would certainly provide her with an incentive not to run off.

silverfrog Wed 03-Jun-09 17:22:20

I would definitely use reins (and did, until dd1 was 4ish)

if you can't find any that are large enough, then Crelling harnesses, or fledglings will have some.

dd1 now walks nicely, and dd2 (2.3, but tiny so i can still carry her) gets threatened with carryign if she doesn't hold hands (as she is desperate to be like her sister, this works atm)

Uriel Wed 03-Jun-09 17:22:57


MadamAnt Wed 03-Jun-09 17:23:49

I do have reins which I sometimes use on DS (and will do more often I think), but surely by FOUR DD shouldn't need them??? Surely I will be judged?? wink Actually sod it if she can't behave like a four year old then I won't treat her like one.

lou031205 Wed 03-Jun-09 17:25:13

Wrist straps give enough freedom to walk alongside but ability to prevent running off.

MadamAnt Wed 03-Jun-09 17:25:58

OK, I will embark on a reins offensive tomorrow grin

(What a remarkably straightforward solution!!)

Do you think it might just be treating the "symptom" and not the cause though, iykwim?

zookeeper Wed 03-Jun-09 17:28:02

I would strap the little one in the buggy and put the bigger one the pavement side of the buggy with his hand on the handle and mine over his.

Practice walking on non busy roads with lots of praise before you unleash them on busier roads

MadamAnt Wed 03-Jun-09 17:28:50

I don't understand why DD's peers seem to be SO much better than her in this respect. They stop when told to, whereas DD will likely as not run faster.

zookeeper Wed 03-Jun-09 17:29:01

I never got on with reins - I alsways fell over them

lou031205 Wed 03-Jun-09 17:29:52

I understand your thinking, but children die & so your priority is safety. Obedience can be achieved in less dangerous settings.

wilbur Wed 03-Jun-09 17:31:23

If it makes you feel any better, I do a lot of fishwife yelling at running kids in the street, too... Hpe the reins work.

MadamAnt Wed 03-Jun-09 17:31:55

DS wriggles out of straps on the buggy though, and DD will NOT hold onto the buggy. Actually I have to admit that thyey are not always like this...they can be quite tame, but obviously when they decide to play up it's horrific and terrifying and relentless. Where have I gone wrong??!! <<wails>>

frogwatcher Wed 03-Jun-09 17:31:59

I suspect that a lot of your dds peers have already had the threat, and following that been put on, reins or harness!!! They probably learnt very quickly that if they didnt walk nicely they would be reined or wrist strapped. Certainly mine were, and walk very well beside roads. That is the one and only piece of parenting I seem to have gotten right!!!

MadamAnt Wed 03-Jun-09 17:32:48

I literally BELLOWED at them today as loud as I could. It was mortifying.

HecatesTwopenceworth Wed 03-Jun-09 17:33:17

It keeps them safe. And they get used to walking with you, not running ahead, and you keep a running "road safety" commentary going.

"Right, now we cross the road, we stop here, and we look and listen and look this way? is anything coming?" etc etc

So they do learn, but they can't run off. And when they're a bit older, you can see how they get on.

Mine both had reins and then wrist straps. It was the only way to keep them safe (both have autism) and I couldn't have cared less about all those on a lead blah blah blah type comments, because I'd not be likely to be scraping my child off the road with a big smile on my face and saying, thank goodness I treated him with enough respect to not restrain him...

silverfrog Wed 03-Jun-09 17:34:49

wrist strap or waist strap might work better if your dd is likely to try to defy - dd1 would take particular delight in hanging off her reins for quite a while (mind you, this is when she was younger, to be fair)

I wouldn't worry about other children and what they do - the important thing is to focus on what you are going to do to make your life easier. Road safety is non-negotiable, imo, and both dds still hold my hands when walking on roads (dd1 is ASD, so doesn't fully understand road danger anyway)

MadamAnt Wed 03-Jun-09 17:35:44

Yeah, I'm really not at all averse to reins...I used them all the time until DD was about three. I just thought that we'd have passed that stage by now, but I guess not. sad

MIAonline Wed 03-Jun-09 17:36:20

I agree with all the other posts that you need reins. Use them consistently over the next few weeks, then always keep them with you and if the DC show any sign of running off or not following safety rules that you set, use them.

I would bet that if you are consistent, you won't need them for more than a week (especially with your eldest)
I think you are dealing with the cause and not the symptom in some ways as the 'cause' is they don't believe there is any consequence to their poor behaviour when walking with you, unfortunately, you know the real consequence of them running off near roads and how dangerous it is.

By using the reins when they are not doing as asked by the road, you are giving them a consequence, it just won't be as serious as getting knocked down!

Good luck smile

MadamAnt Wed 03-Jun-09 17:37:04

Wrist straps are less good for us as DD has hypermobile elbows, and I have to be v careful about them popping out of the joint (which happened several times while hand-holding).

MadamAnt Wed 03-Jun-09 17:38:41

OK I'm feeling less of a failure at the prospect of "regressing" to reins again. Thanks all...this has been helpful

misshardbroom Wed 03-Jun-09 17:39:50

I agree wholeheartedly with the reins / wrist strap lobby... in principle.

In practice, however, it might not be that easy.

My DD and DS1 were always like Stepford Children when it came to walking nicely. They would be either side of DS2's buggy, holding the frame beautifully, stopping when asked, never running off. I was Mrs Smugella McSmug from Smugtown, and did lots of judgy tutting and parents whose children ran off.

Then DS2 learned to walk. Oh boy oh boy, was that a nightmare.

He would leg it off away from me at the slightest provocation, despite lots of screeching like a fishwife.

I have tried reins, wrist strap and a Little Life daysack with a clip on rein. On any of them he just drops to his knees and refuses to walk at all, nearly dislocating my shoulder in the process.

For a long time I had him in lockdown in the buggy but he got to the point where he would wriggle his arms out and stand up on the seat, so it really wasn't safe.

So I guess what I'm saying is try the reins, but don't pin all your hopes on it. IME, I'd have more faith in zookeeper's idea but I would have the older one by the wrist in a vice-like grip.

I agree it's treating the symptom rather than the cause but if it keeps your children from going under the wheels of a bus, does it really matter?

differentID Wed 03-Jun-09 17:39:59

have you thpought about one of those little rucksacks with reins?

silverfrog Wed 03-Jun-09 17:45:40

dd1 used to do the drop to the floor thing too, when I put her in reins.

the thing to do is allow enough time, and just patiently wait it out.

I also attached another strap to dd1's reins, so that she still had a bit of room to run ahead a little - the thing she objected to most was being only a pace or so ahead, if we gave her a little room ,she didn't drop instantly to the floor. (I often wondered about using an extendable lead for this very reason, but couldn't quite bring myself to)

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