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  • Ang Likot! How to Keep Your Active Toddler From Running Off

    Safety is always a concern when your little one is just gaining mastery of his motor skills.
    by Lei Dimarucut-Sison .
Ang Likot! How to Keep Your Active Toddler From Running Off
PHOTO BY @gpointstudio/iStock
  • A toddler who has learned to walk (and eventually, run) for the first time will take advantage of every opportunity he gets to practice his newfound skill. And we know all too well that when your child drifts off, it only takes one unguarded moment for the situation to go wrong a hundred ways — we don't need to illustrate what we mean. But, there he goes again, bolting out in a dash the moment you put him down. 

    Why do toddlers run in the first place? Parenting On The Go author David Elkind, Ph.D., tells Parents magazine, "Running away lets them assert their independence and say, 'I'm me. I can do what I want.' You want him to discover the world around him without hurting himself."

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    How do you allow your toddler to explore his surroundings without curtailing his independence? These suggestions may be useful. 

    1. Lay down simple rules.

    Of course, the best way to let your child know what you expect from him is to communicate this with him. However, a lengthy explanation is not needed when it comes to your toddler since he won't really grasp it all, says pediatric psychologist Adelle Cadieux, Psy.D. Just stick to the basic information he needs to know. For example, you can say, "We will hold hands while we walk to the park, and there will be no running," and get him to agree. Reminders will be necessary so he won't forget what you agreed on, but when he does as he said, make sure you let him know you noticed with a word of affirmation.

    2. Keep your toddler engaged.

    Oftentimes, the reason your little one will wander off is because something caught his attention, so boredom is a tricky thing. Assign him a task such as keeping the items in the basket organized if you're in a supermarket or engage him with a game like "I Spy." If he's too young, point out interesting items you come across. Singing interactive songs like "B-I-N-G-O" may also keep him entertained and focused on one activity for a short period of time (just enough for you to check items off your grocery list).

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    3. Give him some freedom. 

    Granting your little one a little space is good for him to exercise his limits. "Having some freedom is important because toddlers need to take in new information and process it for themselves," says psychologist Stephanie Mihalas, Ph.D. Also, restraining a curious toddler will only make him want to break free even more, so let loose a bit but be sure to keep an eye on him. (We know, we know...parenting is all about finding a balance or haven't you heard?)

    4. Bring out the stroller.

    Remember, your child's safety takes precedence over everything else, so if you think it's going to be hard to control him while you're out, have a backup plan...in the form of a stroller (others use a baby leash — totally up to you). It won't hurt to keep your child strapped on the stroller seat for a short while because guess what? Your peace of mind matters.

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