It’s every parent’s greatest nightmare: you wake up in the middle of the night to check on your child and she’s not there. Your heart begins to pound, and you go into panic mode, phoning her friends, family, and the police.
Whether your child has run away or threatened to do so, or you are concerned that she may, it is critical that you read this article.
If the circumstances are favourable, any kid can flee at any time. Any child can rationalize fleeing if they are under enough stress, believe me. I was one of those kids who ran away from home a lot, and growing up in a stressful environment always did trigger the “flight” response in me. Remember that fleeing is an action, just like any other. You need three things to do it: talent, willingness, and opportunity. And, let’s face it, kids have the chance and capacity to run every day—all they need is the desire to do so. That willingness might emerge for a number of reasons. It might be a difficult environment your child is in, a fear of receiving repercussions for something they did, a power struggle, refusing to attend school, or a substance addiction problem.
Another issue is that children frequently romanticize running away and acquire a romanticized picture of life on the streets. In actuality, it’s a nightmare: you’re cold, hungry, and in danger, yet teenagers frequently regard it as an adventure or the route to independence, where “no one is going to tell me what to do.”
This does not apply to children who are being abused. This is only for children who have caring and loving homes and have kids who struggle with problem-solving skills and then choose to run away.
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Why Kids Run Away
Many children run away as a result of drug and alcohol addiction. When teenagers and pre-teens become involved in substance addiction, they may leave home to avoid detection by their parents. These children frequently use far more than their parents realize; they want to use more freely and publicly, so they flee.
Feelings of failure, in addition to fear or wrath, can lead children to leave home. Some children flee because it is simpler to live on their own than in a troubled family. Unfortunately, kids with behavior management issues or learning impairments frequently become frustrated of feeling like they can’t do it right; it’s simpler for them to flee than it is to address the situation. Frequently, people are unaware that what they are dealing with could be addressed by utilizing different techniques.
The major reason why children run away, in my opinion, is because they lack problem-solving abilities. Running away is a “either/or” answer; it is the result of black-and-white thinking. Children flee because they don’t want to confront things, including feelings they don’t want to cope with. The teenager who flees has exhausted his or her problem-solving abilities. And leaving home, along with all that is weighing on them, appears to solve their immediate issues.
I believe it is critical to distinguish between children who run away on occasion and those who flee on a regular basis. The motivations for the acts vary greatly, and it is critical to understand what they are.
Running Away (Episodic)
When your child flees after anything has happened, this is referred to as episodic fleeing. It’s not a constant pattern, and your child isn’t always utilizing it as a problem-solving approach. It’s also not something they utilize to consolidate power. Rather, they could be attempting to escape some sort of repercussion, shame, or disgrace.
Running away to obtain control in the home is a recurrent problem for children. Recognize that chronic running away is just another type of power struggle, manipulation, or acting out; it’s just really dangerous acting out. They may threaten their parents by stating, “If you force me to do that, I’ll flee.” They are aware that parents are concerned; for many, it is one of their greatest worries. Because they are scared, some parents may engage in bargaining and over-negotiating with their children on this issue when they should not.
However, you must recognize that children who threaten to flee are doing it to gain control. This gives them authority not just over themselves, but also over their parents and relatives. When a parent succumbs to this threat, their child begins to use it to train them. A parent in this circumstance, for example, will learn to cease sending their child to their room every time he or she threatens to run away. I want to be clear: adolescents who repeatedly threaten to flee are not fleeing to fix a single problem. They’re fleeing because it’s their primary problem-solving capability. They are attempting to evade any form of accountability.
Warning Signs Of Running Away
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast indicators that your child is likely to flee. You may certainly check for secretive behavior, money hoarding, and valuables vanishing around the house. If you ever observe something like this happening, don’t ignore it: believe your instincts. You’re undoubtedly aware that something is wrong, whether it’s substance addiction or your children’s desire to leave the house.
Teach Your child That Running Away Doesn’t Solve Problems
Teach Them To Solve Problems
The most essential thing you can do for your children is to teach them problem-solving skills. “What can you do differently about this problem?” inquire. What are some possible solutions to this problem?” Always approach something as a task to be solved, and congratulate your child when they do it effectively. Say something like, “I loved how you addressed that problem, Josh.” The teacher was irritated, but you stood up and apologised. That takes a lot of couanger. And she now thinks you’re a better person. I’m really proud of you.” Praise your child as often as possible when he accomplishes anything nice.
Create An Accepting Environment
Unconditional love is a concept that is frequently utilised in parenting. Some individuals use the phrase “unconditional love,” but what they really mean is “co-dependency.” When I say unconditional love, I mean “I can’t love you any less if you fail, and I won’t love you any more if you succeed.” If you receive an A, I’ll stop loving you. I won’t love you any less if you receive a D. I love you.” I believe it is critical for parents to foster this type of environment in their homes and to instil it in their children. It’s also a good idea for parents to say things like, “It’s alright to make mistakes around here.” Make it plain to your child that “we deal with mistakes in our house by addressing them and dealing with them.”
Keep Checking In
Every parent should have a system in place to check in on their children on a regular basis. Simply pause and inquire, “How’s it going?” Is there anything else I can do for you?” Go by their room and knock on the door two or three times in one day. In this manner, you’re always providing interest and attention to your child. You’re saying, “I’m interested in you, and I care about you.” This is a talent that parents may teach their children; it does not always come naturally. I realize that exhausted parents who have worked all day come home.
If you believe your child is on the verge of fleeing or if you know his buddies have done so, you should sit down and chat with him. Always consider what your child is thinking while making remarks about other children’s behavior. When you remark, “Oh, that little hoodlum, if my kid went away, he’d never return home,” they hear you. As a parent, you must be mindful of who is listening. What you actually want to tell your child is, “If you mess up and flee, don’t be afraid to come back and we’ll speak about it.” And if your child asks, “What are you talking about?” “Discuss how to tackle the problem in a different way,” I would suggest.
Things Parents Can Do in the Moment
Calm Them Down
Try to settle your child down for five minutes. “Why don’t you sit right here in the living room and take a timeout?” you may offer. I’ll return in five minutes.” I wouldn’t tell your child to go to his room; instead, have him stay in the living room or kitchen. Sending him to his room is not a smart idea. This is due to the fact that if he goes there and has the need, he will climb out the window.
Ask Them What’s Going On
When talking to your child, don’t ask him how he’s feeling; instead, ask him what’s going on. Every child wants to fight about how they’re feeling—or deny that they’re feeling anything at all. Parents frequently find themselves in this situation. Instead of asking, “Why are you so upset?” try, “What’s happening on?” What did you observe that prompted you to flee?”
Running Away From Home
Remember that children run away from issues they can’t manage. It’s ingrained in our society. Adolescents frequently perceive running away as a means to gain power and independence. They don’t realize it’s a false sense of power and independence, though, because they can’t take care of themselves legally on the streets. Those sentiments, though, can be deeply entrenched in certain children. Personally, I believe that the most essential thing a child should learn is how to solve issues in new ways. Your child will ultimately have to confront whatever he is avoiding, and it is important that he knows that critical life lesson: “Eventually, you’re going to have to face this.”
When I was running away from home as a young teenager, I was running from an abusive home. The fear, stress, and pressure that I was under were far too much for an 11-16-year-old to handle. In fact, I left home at 16 never to return again. When children are constantly running away, take a look at your home life. Is there a lot of stress around? Are you placing pressures that are too much to handle? Do you beat your child? These are all things that can cause children to leave and never come home again.
What You Should Do Next:
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6. Read Some Of My Favorite Blog Posts From Other Gentle Parenting Professionals
- How to get others on board with GP (grandparents, family, providers)
- MANAGING TODDLER TANTRUMS
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- ITS OKAY NOT TO SHARE
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- GP for Newborns & young babies
- Parenting Differences among peers/providers
- Does your spouse parent differently?
- Prefrontal Cortex – YOUR CHILD’S BRAIN IS NOT DEVELOPED ENOUGH
“GENTLE PARENTING IS A LIFESTYLE THAT EMBRACES BOTH YOUR PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL BEHAVIOR, NOT ONLY TOWARDS YOUR CHILDREN, BUT TO YOURSELF TOO“— SARA HOCKWELL-SMITH