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My 5 year old left our yard and went running around the neighborhood without permission. When he did this I smacked him on the bottom hard once. Sent him to his room. This was the second time he did this. My husband now tells him he has to stay in the house and not play outside for 3 days. I think this is extreme for a 5 yr old? What do you think?


Kraig Kidd Replied: Frankly, I believe the hitting was extreme. I understand this may have happened out of being afraid from his disappearance, but you will never get cooperation from corporal punishment. The other piece of information on corporal punishment is it shuts down the frontal learning lobe in the brain, so your child probably did not hear a single thing you said while or after being hit. First put the appropriate locks on your fencing, if needed. From there I do agree pulling in the playing boundaries is appropriate until the child can hold the responsibility of expanding them. Perhaps bring him inside for a day (hopefully it won't drive you nuts too), then permit him outside supervised for a time period and expand. Then, you can move to short time periods unsupervised to help him learn the responsibility. Another very logical approach may be communicating your interest in learning what it is he is looking for - and trying to figure out how to meet that need. Good luck!
Posted On 2010-06-21 23:28:22
Ellen Gibran-Hesse Replied: A 5 year old doesn't have that sort of brain function yet to associate an action with such a long term punishment. Even a time out, is typically a minute for every year of age. If he is running out, this sounds like a young one who needs a change of scene or activity. It seems like he is curious and an explorer. These are good traits and need to be directed. With a little one explain you want him safe and maybe see about play dates or trips to parks. Help create a calendar for outings which can also be running in the mall just to help him burn energy and get out. Simple daily walks around the neighborhood counting birds or squirrels will help him burn the energy until he gets a little older and can go ride his bike safe distances. Once you create a positive direction for his interest and energy, this behavior shouldn't be a problem.
Posted On 2010-06-20 21:55:23
Christine Hierlmaier Nelson Replied: You and your husband should get on the same page on discipline. Agree to a set of consequences that happen when your son does not follow rules BEFORE you share them with your son. Because the three-day consequence is already on the table, I would follow through this time to show your son that you are both serious about him following rules.

I also want to address spanking. While I agree that sometimes children need a serious wake-up call when it comes to behavior that is dangerous and repetitious (like running in the street), it is important to explain to your son why you spanked him. He is old enough to understand that the pain he may have felt on his behind is nothing compared to the pain YOU would feel if he was hit by a car or lost.

Talk to him about your expectations when it comes to playing outside.

1. You stay in the yard.

2. If you want to see a friend, you ask mom or dad first.

3. If we say no, then no means no.

4. If we say yes, then wait for us to walk you over. (Or whatever your rules might be.) Tell him that you still love him and want him to have fun and explore, but that your job as a parent is to protect him. And sometimes parents or teachers will seem mean, but they are just trying to teach respect for rules. And rules are made to protect him and teach him good choices.

The line between discipline and being too soft is sometimes difficult, but you're on the right track, mom!
Posted On 2010-06-08 09:30:50
James Crist Replied: I think a 5-year-old is too young to be allowed to play outside unsupervised where he has the ability to leave the yard. It's too tempting and kids at that age don't tend to think that much before they act. A three day punishment, as well as a spanking, may not address the problem or teach him what you want to teach him. He may be running in search of more stimulation, in which case taking a walk in the neighborhood may help. It may be a way of getting your attention, even if negative. Third, he may not understand the danger of leaving the yard. So first, you need to understand what is motivating the behavior. Second, you need to address it in positive ways. The Love and Logic parenting series is an excellent collection of books on parenting. I would highly recommend them. Their website also contains free handouts.
Posted On 2010-06-06 15:50:26
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