Running away from home: how many of us tried it when we were kids? Probably most of us—but we usually didn’t make it more than a block from home. These days, however, running away is a real problem. According to the National Runaway Switchboard, 1 in 7 kids between the ages of 10 and 18 will run away at some point. So as a parent, you need to know how to handle runaways—and pre-emptively talk to your children about why they shouldn’t run away. Why do Kids Run Away? Kids will run away for a number of different reasons—and each child’s reason will probably be different. The consistent underlying reason, though, is likely some form of stress. Some reasons kids might become runaways include fights with parents or siblings, problems at school, divorce of parents, or a death (or birth) in the family. All of these things can cause stress that kid aren’t equipped to handle properly. As parents, there are things we can teach them to help prevent kids from fleeing their issues. Running Away isn’t Fun and Games Many children believe that running away from home will be fun and exciting. They won’t have parents or teachers telling them what to do and can just spend all day playing. As adults, the flaws in that thinking are clear to us. If you have a child who you has talked about running away, explain the risks to them. Without a home or parents, runaways don’t have money, food or a safe place to sleep. Teach Problem-Solving Skills to Prevent Running As adults, we deal with all kinds of stress—children, however, aren’t born knowing how to deal with those stressors. By encouraging children to be self-confident, parents can discourage them from running away. Talk to your children about the emotions the feel, and help them express those emotions. Practicing problem-solving skills with children. For example, have your child give you a time they were upset. Have them come up with a list of solutions, then talk through those solutions with them, asking, “what would happen next” for each solution. Sometimes kids might not want to talk to their parents when they’re upset about something. Give them other options of people they can talk to, be it older siblings, teachers or a trusted neighbor. If you’re concerned about your children running away, consider using GPS trackers for kids. Devices like these make it easy to keep an eye on your kids, even when you can’t see them. When kids have a child GPS on their waistband or backpack, you can easily check their location from your home computer. Have your children ever tried to runaway? Do you have tips to share with other parents?
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