Thursday, 1 July 2010

How do I get my little boy NOT to dart across the road??

I have a big problem. Well, a short cute little problem, really. His name is Elliot, and he is what is commonly known as a Rampaging Toddler. He doesn't walk - he either hops or runs, and when he runs, well... Do you remember that episode of Friends where Rachel and Phoebe go running? He runs like a much shorter and slightly loopier version of Phoebe, arms flailing everywhere, grinning like a maniac. Yesterday he spilled something on his top, so they sent him home from Nursery wearing the only thing they could find - a skin tight pink short sleeve vest with a rabbit on the front and big handwritten N U R S E R Y on the back. I couldn't help thinking he had specifically requested that top to add a certain je ne sais quoi to the Crazy Running Boy effect.


Crazy Running Boy firmly refuses to listen when I tell him to stop or slow down, and he is such a slippery little sucker that I can't hold on to his hand without hurting him. After a year of being completely still or just bum-shuffling, he is so incredibly excited about the fact he can now run and jump and join his big sister in the excitement of inspecting each and every leaf and ant on the way home. The only trouble is that we have to walk along a main road, and cross several streets to get home, and he just will not listen. He darts out toward the curb suddenly, or runs off diagonally when we are crossing the road.

I've been so terrified at his complete lack of sense that I've resorted to strapping him into the buggy. He turns himself inside out and backwards trying to get out, and then scowls at me the rest of the way. I feel terrible. I feel like I'm depriving him of a really nice little adventure... but honestly, it's not worth the risk.

I never had this with Madeleine. Is it a boy thing? What do you do to instill some traffic sense into your toddlers?

And when he shouts "Stop! Look! Listen! Think!" (from Madeleine's road safety sticker book) over his shoulder at me as he runs headlong into traffic, is he really just doing it to see the look on my face? 


  1. You paint an interesting picture! It's hard isn't it - you either end up, as you say, crushing their hand trying to hold onto them, or turning into big shouty mum and feeling like you've ruined the day. I have tried letting them walk but getting them to hold onto pushchair - so it's their decision - if they won't abide by this rule then they know they get strapped in. What about reins? We have some on our site which are an animal backpack with the adult holding the tail. I think they let the child feel more in control and they can be persuaded they are taking their friend for a walk. Also have some good links on our blog post to instilling road sense in toddlers at

  2. You are not alone... I had exactly this problem with my son when he started walking well as the exuberance, just a total lack of concentration, veering off towards the road to inspect whatever fascinating thing may be in the gutter with no fear about sticking his head in the flow of very fast traffic. Reins and the backpack thing did help a bit - though they aren't foolproof and I have traumatic memories of a particularly traumatic reins tangled in buggy (containing fairly new baby) incident...
    The thing that helped us the most was to ask his nursery to bring the whole running away thing up in circle time. Because it wasn't ME nagging (or perhaps yelling like a banshee!!) it seemed to work and suddenly I started to hear 'I need to walk with you or I'll be squished by a car and won't be able to play with my toys' - and more infuriatingly 'because Debbie (beloved nursery leader who could do no wrong) says so!!'
    Might be worth a try for your Crazy Running Boy? good luck!

  3. Very very good advice. I shall invest in some reins... and yes, I can see how getting Nursery to bring it up could definitely work. They take anything Nursery staff say as absolute law - it's brilliant. I have to admit I use them to my advantage when the kids are acting up at home - I say "what would your keyworker think if she saw you doing that??" - works a treat.

  4. Awww that must be tough! We used to use the reins when we'd go to the amusement parks because I had a terrible fear of Meg getting lost in the crowd. Might be worth a try till he understands the importance of staying on the sidewalk. Good Luck!