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Escape artist 3 year old leaves house, plays in car

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Dear Dr. Laura,
I am not sure how to handle this situation. My son, who just turned 3, loves going outside. Here is the problem, he will walk outside without anyone knowing, and he will also go outside even if we tell him it's not time to do so. He has even gotten my car keys so he can play in the car -- which is so dangerous. There ARE times where I have allowed him to play in the car, with me - he likes to buckle the seat belts and open and close the automatic doors. Of course, now that I have allowed him to do these things, I have to take it back. It was my mistake to begin with, so how do I explain that to him?

I have also found that I am becoming more successful with my daughter and explaining that if she doesn't take a shower/take vitamins/finish homework, etc., she won't be able to watch TV for that evening - and that seems to be working.

I did lose my cool on a class trip as I was a chaperone and she was running to far ahead of the group and not listening when I had repeated to them to stay with me. So I was annoyed that they weren't listening, and told her that her behavior was horrible. But then I felt horrible. But she was much better...

I really appreciate all that you are teaching. I do it wrong a lot, but I am trying. Another thing that makes it difficult is not having my husbands support with this method.

Thank you again.


Good for you for continuing to learn and grow as a parent!

I hear your fears for your son. It was not a mistake to let him play in the car but obviously he can't do so without you. It's like fire. They can only build a fire WITH us.

I wonder if your son is looking to see where the limits are. I would immediately install locks high on your doors. Inconvenient, yes, but his life could be at stake. I know of a situation where a young child died in a can happen quickly. So please don't delay. Put a lock high enough that he can't get to it even with a chair. (It should open without a key or it is a fire hazard for you.)

I'm hoping that your husband will see that you're able to turn things around and will begin to take notice of your methods. I hear that often from moms. And you may want to get your hands on my audio "I've Got Your Back."

Dr. Laura

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