Today I walked down a New York City street and noticed three young children on leashes. Sure, two were dressed up as cute little monkey backpacks with tails for the parents to hold on to, but still….they’re leashes. After years working with toddlers, 2s and 3s, I get it. They can have selective listening, can be impulsive, they want to do everything by themselves. For some children, leashes (or backpacks with tails, if you prefer) may seem unavoidable, but before you buy one, here’s something to try:
When children are young, play the “Stop and Go Game.” Stay in a safe area like the park, a quiet sidewalk, or even your hallway. Hold your child’s hand and shout “Go!” Run a few feet, throw your arms out to the sides and shout “Stop” or “Freeze!” Now do it again! Make it fun! The children will think they’re playing but they’ll really be learning to be safe and to listen closely to your words. Next time you are walking down the block and they are going farther than feels comfortable for you, play the game. Depending upon what you feel is safe, you can change it up by using the words “walk,” “jump,” or “run.” Remind them that on the street, the rule is to “stop” or “freeze” when their grownup calls out the word.
It takes some practice, but it sure beats the alternative!
If you have other questions about keeping your child safe on the street, email me at Dana@DanasKids.com.