Our last tip about improving safety in the community is a big one- so let us know if you have any questions!
One of the biggest things we notice when we begin to work on community behaviors with parents is that they are often inadvertently sending out mixed signal to their child. For example, when a parent finally reaches their child that bolted (eloped/ran away) a lot of times they reprimand the child in a silly voice or pick them up and tickle them. These actions might actually be acting as a reinforcer for that behavior: meaning that when they run away from you, they get really fun attention! Make sure that the consequence matches the behavior by differentiating your tone of voice and the consequences that follow. This means that when your child bolts from you, you need to use a firm voice when giving the direction to stop or come back. This shows your child that it is a direction and not a challenge or a signal to play. If your child chooses to stop or return to you, this is the perfect opportunity to use silly voices, pick up, or tickle your child! This shows your child that great things come to them when they follow directions. If they do not follow your direction to stop or come back, make sure to stop them and demonstrate the correct behavior. Here’s how that could look: When you get to your child, hold their hand and say “This is stopping” in a calm voice. You can also have them backtrack to the place where they initially bolted and say something like “This is walking with me” while you walk calmly with them, thus demonstrating the desired behavior.