At Baby‘s age, running is nothing but fun. He doesn&;t see it as exercise or as a means to an end or as a potentially dangerous activity – it’s 100% joy and adrenaline. Unfortunately, as you’ve probably learned, what’s fun for Baby isn’t always super fun for you.
Until there’s a way to get Baby to only run in grass-covered parks with easy sight lines and no hazards, can you get him to just stop running?
Why is he running?
Why is Baby so infatuated with running, exactly? Is it because:
A) You’re playing a chasing game
B) He is bored
C) He sees something interesting
D) He wants you to chase him
E) He is exploring his independence
F) B, C, D, and E
Yep, unless you’re specifically playing a chasing game, your toddler’s motivations for running a lightning speed might be a little muddled. But that’s okay! The root of all of these running urges is that Baby realizes he can run, so he goes for it. There’s not too much thought involved, and chances are that he isn&;t trying to upset you by bolting, it just seems like good, impulsive fun!
That’s why your goal isn’t necessarily to get Baby to stop running; it’s to help him think about running a little more before doing it and keeping him safe.
How do I do that?
Option #1: You can explain as best you can why it’s not a good idea for Baby to run, and you might be able to convince him to see your side of things. You can tell him that it can be dangerous for him to be out of your sight, that he can get hurt by running too fast, and that it’s easy to get lost when you run away. However, toddlers aren’t famous for their abilities to process logical arguments. If you find yourself explaining for the 20th time why we don’t run in the store/street/restaurant, it might be time to let logic fall by the wayside.
Option #2: As a supplement to explaining, you can try redirecting some of Baby‘s running energy to other things. Maybe you can set aside a certain time during the day to play tag, catch, or otherwise use Baby‘s running powers for good. If Baby can put that energy into an activity that makes you happy, you’ll both enjoy your day more (and one of you will be a little too tired to run later). You can also use this time to practice “come back here” games like Red Light, Green Light or Simon Says for when Baby really needs to run and you really need him to stop running.
Option #3: At the end of the day, safety is the most important thing. If you can’t get Baby to stop bolting out of your reach or out of your sight, you might want to try to physically rein him in a little. You can do this by holding hands, using a stroller, asking Baby to keep a hand on the stroller/cart/wagon/etc. at all times as he walks, or, yep, using a toddler harness. Even if you’re reluctant, you won’t be the first parent to use a method you swore you’d never need, and if a stroller or a harness is what keeps Baby safe, that’s all that matters.
The last option for a running toddler will be an evergreen solution for many of your parenting dilemmas: wait it out. The running phase is really common for toddlers, and it will pass eventually. Either he will find another favorite activity, understand your 100th Why We Don’t Run presentation, or just grow out of it. In the meantime, check out your local high school track team – maybe it’s time to start training for the 100-meter dash?