Joe 1982Mom enrolled my younger brother in a nursery school when he was a little over two years old. I remember visiting the center, noticing the light blue walls, royal blue trim, and the smell of new diapers. He hadn’t attended long, maybe a week, before he was expelled. The owner decided that he was too much of a liability to continue there and promptly gave him the boot. The cause of the expulsion? He ran away. One afternoon at the end of outside playtime the staff called the children in. Joe hid behind some equipment until everyone was inside. Once alone, he climbed the chain link fence surrounding the yard and made a beeline for the highway. The owner of the nursery school had just returned from the grocery store. With arms full of purchases she spied Joe, tiny legs moving as fast as they could, running down the small hill to the highway. She dropped everything and gave chase, catching him just before he stepped into traffic, a semi truck whizzing past. The call my mother received that day instructed her to pick him up immediately and never return. Joe was obviously trying to communicate his feelings about the nursery school. His language skills were not advanced enough for him to communicate clearly otherwise. Later, my mother found a small daycare run by a husband and wife. The setting was very much family-style and the couple cared for only a handful of other children. Joe was happy there and never attempted to escape.

I remember being eight or nine and unhappy about something my parents had disciplined me for. My initial reaction was to hightail it out of there. I had a vision in my head from several television shows of what that looked like. So, I located a long stick and large handkerchief. The impulse didn’t last long, especially when I realized how little fit in the handkerchief.

Children need to have some control in their lives. When they feel a loss of control one impulse can be to remove themselves from the situation. A child may run from the room, turn their head to look away, or leave the home. Parents can help support their children by identifying their child’s need for some control and meeting that need. Parents do not need to give their child full control. By giving them the power of choice in some situations, children will feel a part of the process and invested in it more. The child will feel respected and valued. When decisions must be made without child input, usually for safety and well-being, it can be very helpful to explain to the child what is happening and to acknowledge their feelings.

How have you managed this in your life?

For the kiddos who just like to run:


7 thoughts on “Runaway

  1. I ran away once, until it started getting dark and I got scared….lol
    I did not go home after school. omg, I thought my mother was going to beat me to death…. needless to say I did not do that again… she never asked why though either.

    • Deborah, I didn’t get as far as you, but imagine that I would have been scared to death at nightfall-especially because at that time I was really afraid of monsters. 🙂

  2. Hmmm… Sounds like a talented and determined young boy. Possibly like a young ‘Jason Bourne’ 😉 Actually I don’t have very strong memories on that but I do remember trying to ‘getaway’! I really did like the next place much better!
    I hope Marley doesn’t ever feel compelled to run away, unless it’s from something or somebody ‘bad’. But this certainly will help me to view the ‘act’ in a different light. That is in the event she acquires a stick and handkerchief and try’s to relive the legend of her aunt Jessica!

    • Joe, hopefully Marley won’t ever feel the need to leave home like that. I imagine that she’ll verbalize how she’s feeling, since you and Taryn work so much on that. 🙂 Just know that she can always come to Aunt Jessica’s for a getaway.

  3. It was a scary time indeed! Thank Heaven for the way it turned out! If he had only realized that going inside to take a nap was not a bad thing….but, no…he only wanted to stay outside and play. I never under-estimated his “scaling/climbing” skills after that! 🙂 He was determined!

    • Scary indeed. Determination in young children is a trait that follows them into adulthood and can be a factor in success. I think that describes all your children. 😉

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