Warning signs that your child might be thinking about running away
It's difficult to put together an exhaustive list of signs that your teenager might be thinking about running away from home. Needless to say, every child handles problems or deals with stress in different ways. But here's a list of things to watch out for if you're worried.
Warning that a child may be thinking about running away
- Staying out later than agreed / pushing boundaries
- Not wanting to come home from school, youth club or friends' houses
- Staying over at friends' houses more frequently, or staying with other family members to avoid coming home
- Playing truant, or doing less well at school
- Behaving very differently – for example, acting more aggressively or becoming withdrawn
- Developing new interests outside school, hanging around with a new crowd, or starting a new relationship
- Showing signs of drug or alcohol abuse
- Being very secretive when using the internet
What to do if you're worried
It's important to remember that you know your child better than anyone else, and none of these signs in themselves mean that your child is definitely thinking about running away. But if you notice obvious changes in your child's behaviour and it's worrying you, try and talk to them and find out what's going on.
With teenagers, this is often easier said than done. If they clam up, try sending them an email or text to let them know you're worried about them. If they do open up, ask them what they think they should do about their problem, rather than bombarding them with advice: it might help them feel more in control of the situation.
If you can, talk to your child's other parent to get their perspective, and where possible, present a united front in dealing with the problem. If your child senses that you disagree amongst yourselves, they might find this even more unsettling. Or they might try to play you off against each other, which could make things worse.
It might also be worth having a quiet word with any other adults your child spends time with, like their teacher, youth worker or friend's parents, so that they can let you know if they notice anything unusual.
- Feeling worried? If you need advice, you can chat to other parents on the Parenting teenagers Talk board
- Go back to the main page
*Source: The Children's Society, Still Running III, 2011
Last updated: over 3 years ago