Giggle Parenting For A Toddler That Runs Away – Reader Question N.O 9


Hi Kate! I saw your post regarding your Giggle Parenting blog. I have a topic I am hoping you can help me with.

First, some background info: my husband and I have an almost 3 yo and a 3 week old. My daughter goes to a Montessori school twice a week. I have to park and go inside the building to drop her off and pick her up.

My issue: she runs off from me and refuses to help carry any of her things (school bag, nap mat, lunch box). She repeatedly ignores more and will take her shoes and socks off, help herself to the reading corner, or just flat out refuse to carry anything or stay close. With the new addition I do not have the hands to help her get to the car when she is refusing. She sees this and has taken full advantage. I have talked with her on many occasions when we are both calm. I explain how I need her help getting all her things to the car and how she needs to stay close so she is safe in the parking lot, ect. I get very anxious at pick up and not at all playful or fun. Please advise!

Thank you, T

Dear T,

thanks for you message. I’m sorry that you’re finding yourself in such a stressful situation with a newborn to care for as well.

Here are some suggestions of things you can do outside of the school pick-up that might help. I can imagine with a three week old, everyone is still adjusting, so you can gradually add in some giggle parenting whenever you can, and get your husband involved so that you can also rest and recuperate.

One thing to do would be to allow your daughter to be playfully non-co-operative at other times, so that she can get the feelings out of her system in a safe environment. So perhaps on a day you are not in a rush, you could tell her you need to get her dressed, brush her hair, clean her teeth etc, and then say something like, ‘’I hope you don’t run away while I’m trying to brush your hair,’’ in a playfully serious tone, or ‘’I hope you don’t put these clean socks in the dirty washing basket.’’ You could just think up any ways she can be playfully ‘naughty’ while be connected to you. (here’s why this helps.)

Then you can act all playfully exasperated as you ‘chase’ after her, saying, ”hey! I need to get you dressed. I hope you don’t run away again.’’ You can repeat as long as you’ve got the time and energy to play. You don’t need to actually run around the house if you don’t feel like it, just the words, and starting to chase may be enough to get your daughter laughing.

If you go somewhere like a park where there is space to run safely, you could say to your daughter, that you’ve got this sticky glue on your hand, so that she cannot escape from you. Then she can try to wriggle, and run away, and you can get all playfully frustrated and say, ‚’oh no! This sticky glue isn’t working, I need to get you back.’’

If you’re feeling exhausted and not at all like playing, then you could incorporate this into the play, by slowing following afterwards, and acting all powerless, saying, ‚’hmmm what’s wrong with these floppy legs they don’t seem to be working very well, how did you get so fast?’’

During school pick up, do you have a favourite stuffed toy like a teddy for example, that might come along and ‚pick up’ your daughter? Maybe you could ask your daughter to hold the toys hand, and tell your daughter that you are worried the teddy might run away, and could she hold onto him?

Giggle parenting is the perfect way to reconnect with an older child after a new sibling is born, so I hope that just adding a few laughs here and there when you have the time and energy will help.

Here’s an article I wrote with 10 playful ways to deal with challenging moments throughout your day. Any time you see your daughter laughing about something you can repeat it, and simply go with the giggles.

I’m sure your daughter will have some big feelings about getting used to having a new sibling around, and another thing that can really help, is to just be there to listen if she gets upset. It might be about something completely unrelated like the colour of her cup, or because you brought the ‚wrong snack.’ Children will often use a small reason to have a big cry about a deeper upset, as they process what’s going on in their lives. Listening to upsets, without immediately jumping up to get the right colour cup can be really helpful. You can read more in my post here, Why this isn’t another article about how to stop tantrums.

Parenting in this way, is super-rewarding as we see our child’s natural co-operative nature shining through, but it’s also super-challenging for us particularly because we weren’t parented in that way.

Also in our society, we are expected to ‘do it all,’ childcare, housework, and often work outside the home. In less ‘modern,’ less affluent societies, and in the past, we would have had a whole network of aunties and grandmothers on-hand to help us.

This article The secret weapon every parent needs to know about  is about one of our most powerful tools- listening partnerships, and the way we support parents in these challenging times. Listening partnerships help me so much to get more energy and creativity for Giggle Parenting.

I hope these suggestions are useful!


Would you like a giggle parenting solution for your family challenge? Leave me a comment or send me a pm via facebook

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