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Does Your Toddler Run in the Street? This One Key Phrase Will Stop Him in His Tracks!

By Michelle Shelton, Parenting Coach

Does your toddler run away from you? Does he run into the street at times or run towards it, nearly giving you a heart attack? All mothers have felt the panic of seeing their little guy sprinting toward the street! My mother used to say; “you’ll die a million deaths before you get em raised”.

I often see mothers chasing their toddlers. The little guy is charging wildly toward the street and the mother has a frightened look in her eye. Once she catches Jr. she usually has some harsh words for him and in turn, he giggles and attempts to wiggle away from her. She might even give him a little swat on his diapered bottom to let him know she really means business. The mother then calms down because, after all, he is still a just a baby.

What are you supposed to do as a mother?

Let’s start with a question. What is your job as a mother? Is it to simply protect your child from harm? To feed him, clothe him and take care of his needs? Since the role of a mother is not clearly defined in our culture, we think mothers are supposed to love our child. Period. That’s it. Loving them means taking care of them and doing everything for them, right? Wrong! Get ready because I am about to define your real role as a mother and I want you to write this down! Your job as a mother is to…….TEACH. That’s it. Teach your children how to get along without you. God gave children a mother for this one thing in mind.

You are saying, yeah, but what about training? Isn’t it my job as a good mother to train my children in the way they should go? Yes and no. Training shows your children “how” to do something. Teaching gives them the reason “why” they do something. It is imperative to teach and not just train.

Jeffery Gitomer said it best when he said, “pretend you have a teenage daughter, do you want her to have sex EDUCATION…or…sex TRAINING? Yikes! When you put it that way, it makes sense, doesn’t it?

When you teach your children, you give them the concrete information they need to make wise decisions on their own. They have to think and decide for themselves. They have the information needed to embrace your reasons in a clear, logical way. It is even more imperative to do this with boys than it is girls because boys are usually more logical.

By now you are thinking I forgot about the toddler in the street. Well, I didn’t. My children never went into the street because I taught them “why” they shouldn’t go in the street. Now I will teach you how to teach your children the same thing.

A TRAINING statement would be, “If you go in the street, you will get hit by a car.” Haven’t most little kids been hit by a brother, sister, playmate, or cousin? If they haven’t personally been hit, they have seen people hit or they have hit others! The point is, no one died. No one wiggled around in severe paid and then disappeared. They know they WILL recover if the car HITS them. Hitting is not life threatening, is it?

Scare Them

Now, let’s do a TEACHING situation. Scare them. Does this go against your motherly instinct? Sorry. Reality is, if they run in front of a car, they are most likely going to die. This is scary. They need to fear the cars. How can you scare your own child you ask? First of all, I am not saying go out and rent a copy of Stephen King’s, “The Car” and show it to your child. I am saying fear is sometimes healthy.

If you go in the street, the cars will eat you!

What is a realistic way to make sure your child would have a healthy fear of cars? When my children were little I had a stroke of genius when I said, If you go in the street, the cars will eat you! Children know about eating. They know that chewing would have to hurt. Most have bitten their own finger hard enough to know it would hurt and hurt BAD. They also know that anything they eat is GONE FOREVER.

Once you learn to develop healthy fears in your child, your child will see that the world is a delightful yet scary place and it does have boundaries that limit all of us. After all, that is the truth. Doesn’t your child deserve the truth?

© 2003 by Michelle Shelton. All rights reserved

About the Author
Michelle Shelton is an author, parenting coach, parent consultant, acclaimed public speaker, and parent educator. Michelle is the author of the well known column Life with all these Kids. Contact her at 480-888-9352 or

Babies Online can not garauntee that this statement will keep your child safe – this article is posted as an educational resource only.

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9 Comments on "Does Your Toddler Run in the Street? This One Key Phrase Will Stop Him in His Tracks!"

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7 years 10 months ago

Great article. Thank you, this is truly helpful. I have 2 girls and 1 boy, and none of them have ever run in the street. However, my middle child (girl) is the only one who runs away in a store or other strange place. Now, I have Taught and explained to all 3 of my children over the years…so why is she the only one that doesn’t seem to understand? It does scare me because any technique that I’ve ever used on all 3 kids….has worked only on my other 2.

8 years 3 months ago
Thank you everyone for taking time to post and comment. I love reading your comments and I hope this article will support some of you in keeping your children safe from cars. If only there were ONE way to do it. These are simply tips I have found that work…I, like you have children that didn’t come with any sort of manual. Although a child is not logical…this is true. You are teaching them. If you are not ever willing to explain anything, this could be a much bigger problem in my opinion. Lastly ladies, if you are rebellious and… Read more »
8 years 10 months ago

I have 3 children 2 girls and then a boy. the girls never ran into the street but this bot of mine is a dare devil, constantly climbing and running in the street.. Im against the harness and decided with the 3rd child to get one for this reason here. he has figured out how to take it off so Im back to square one.. Im going to give this a try Ive really tried everything else, hopefully I can come back with good results! fingers crossed…..

8 years 10 months ago

It all sounds great until you get to the part of explaining. A two year old is not logical and explaining does not work. My two year old has been in the running away phase since he was 15 months old. I’ve tried explaining, scaring, scolding, etc, nothing works. You have five children that never ran off? you got lucky.

9 years 2 months ago
I was looking for ways to scare my 2 yr old in o not running into the street and I found this artical. I hope it really works because I am that mother scared to death chasing my two year old and hoping I catch him before he gets hit by a car. Which he almost did 2 days ago. My husband always says I need to take off my high heals and run after him because he refuses and I was so angry I wanted to make the situation real to both my husband and my 2 yr old,… Read more »
9 years 4 months ago

I agree with you too. I scare my 2 year old if need be. Not by making her stay up at night making her think cars are coming after her but a 2 year old is a 2 year old is a 2 year old. They don’t need to “think for themselves” if it’s going to get them hurt.

9 years 9 months ago

I like your article … and yes, generally males are more logic minded, it is a proven fact through many neurological studies. However, I come from a house hold where I was taught to be more logical than emotional, and I appreciate it every single day. I plan to raise both my boy and my girl to think everything through, as much as possible, instead of getting upset about perceived inadequacies and therefore completely ignoring what is a great tool in a parents box.

9 years 10 months ago

Hi Paula,
You don’t have to agree…it is my opinion…I have five children and that fact, if you will, comes from experience.
The fact is, not one of my children have ever run in the street and I have never had to chase them. Works for me…whatever works.

11 years 1 month ago

To the author,

I don’t agree with the way you say “They have to think and decide for themselves. They have the information needed to embrace your reasons in a clear, logical way. It is even more imperative to do this with boys than it is girls because boys are usually more logical.” How can you say boys are more logical? Where did you get the fact from?

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