And it would seem from no where your toddler’s new found ability to walk, created a way of establishing the need to seek the whole wide world without you by their side. Sounds great in theory, right? The reality is, this independence you seek to give your children can become a nightmare very quickly for parents who fall out of their depth walking busy high streets and window shopping in malls.
The truth is your children want their freedom and once they realize themselves they do not have to be strapped into their strollers they are eager to race away like wild horses, whilst you are quickly enticed of a game of ‘catch me if you can.” Which is a lot of fun! At this stage of their development, it is important they have the choice to walk around. So, it is our job to make sure that our children can do this safely whilst building trust between yourself and your little one.
How To Build Trust
- Begin by explaining that you are going on a fun walk and that your child will be free to walk with you, by your side, so long as they understand that they must hold onto the stroller too.
- Praise your child in conversation the moment you are walking together. Let them know that them listening to you and doing as they are told is allowing you both to walk together and head off to the park, the shops or wherever you are going.
- If you child quickly shows you the maturity and ability to listen to you every time you are out and they hold onto the stroller you will be able to take the next step in trusting them to walk by your side without holding on. This you will have to judge based on their maturity to follow-through.
- If your child resists putting their hand on the stroller bar, very firmly tell them that if they want to walk they need to hold onto the stroller bar. If not, they go back into the stroller strapped in s a consequence. This allows your child to make a choice for themselves having already stipulated the choice they have. Please explain this is about keeping them safe.
- If your child says yes, and then proves not to listen to you , follow through, they go back into the stroller strapped in for 10 minutes. They will not want this but it will show that you mean what you say. If you already have a baby in the stroller and you need your 3 year old to walk by your side, you will need to shadow your hand over theirs to keep everybody safe.
- If you have had to follow through on strapping your child in, get them back out after 10 minutes and re-iterate the expectation you require from them and start all over again. Each time you do it, it will teach your child that there is a certain type of behavior you expect when out and about roaming. Eventually your child will understand it is about the trust being built between you and them and everybody being kept safe.
- Be sure to practice first somewhere safer like your backyard or in the garden, over at the park, or perhaps a quiet street in the neighborhood.
- As your child grows older and you build trust between you both, you will find that they will quite happily walk in front of the buggy, staying close, knowing that when you say ‘Stop’ they will do exactly that.
Copywritten by Jo Frost