Social Question

KNOWITALL's avatar

Has your toddler ever run away from home?

Asked by KNOWITALL (23872points) 1 month ago

Since I don’t have children, I thought I’d ask the collective about a parenting issue.

Is it difficult to keep a three year old child in the house?
Do you have tips on how to secure the residence?

This happened in the past with another neighbor. Now my other neighbor’s child is naked and in the street and even on the roof once. Today I heard her (the child) yelling at me from another yard where no one’s at home, and she’s naked and alone again.

Of course I take her home, text her mother, and stay with her, (I adore the kid) but at what point do you start worrying about neglect rather than it being a rare occurrence?

I’ve talked to the mother quite a few times, since I’m the one bringing her home, but she just acts bewildered, and today said “How did she get out, I locked the front gate?”

I’m considering a talk with the dad in case he isn’t aware.

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21 Answers

hmmmmmm's avatar

I’m all for free-range children, but a toddler? How does this happen?

No, never had it happen.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@hmmmmmm I just don’t understand the complete lack of supervision. My temper’s going to blow one of these days and it’ll ruin our friendship, but better than a dead child.

hmmmmmm's avatar

^ I don’t blame you. Toddlers can quickly get themselves into some nasty trouble even in the house. And leaving the house on their own is absurd.

ragingloli's avatar

Yes.
One of them put a saddle on the dog, shouted “run like the wind, trusty steed!”, and disappered into the sunset with my kitchen knife!

YARNLADY's avatar

No, I have never had a toddler run away from my house, or even go outside without permission. They were supervised at all times.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@YARNLADY What would you do if you were me?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

If it was me (number of times this happened) call 911 !

Serious as a heart attack, call the cops and let hetr talk her way out of it. Call again the next time too, the kid is going to play in the freeway only once.

Soubresaut's avatar

Have you tried asking the child what they’re doing? I’m not saying they’d have the language, or even the self-awareness, to be able to articulate “why” they leave the house on their own in some larger way, but it still might be informative to know what’s going on in their head in the moment—which might then help you (to the extent you want to be involved) and the mother figure out how to maybe address whatever need the child is seeking, but in a safer way for the child.

Does the child typically do the same type of thing when they leave the house? Do they often seek you out specifically in one way or another (such as calling your name)?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Tropical_Willie I get that but I was hoping for something less incendiary. I feel like a nosy neighbor as it is.

@Soubresaut The father and brother (10 years old) have ADHD. None of them can sit still for any length of time, I assume it’s the same for the baby. Actually she is a very social child and I feel like (this is not fact) that her mother and brother get busy and she gets bored and just leaves.
But like with being on the roof because her dad left a ladder out against the house, or playing the street, or even a little baby being naked in public, all of it concerns me to no end.
And she does love me and the other neighbor lady who’s porch she was at this morning. I’m her popsicle neighbor and the other lady has Alzheimers so they visit with her quite often.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

You say you wait with the kid till the mother gets there, is the Mother working?
No excuse but they may not be able to afford childcare.
But if the mother is visiting other people while the kid is alone that is bad and should be brought to the attention of the authorities .

KNOWITALL's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 No, they are getting their house ready to sell, so she’s either working or cleaning or cooking. She is a SAH mom.

Honestly what bothered me today, more than usual, was the boy coming out to get his sister and hollering for his mom and ten minutes later she comes out scowling and didn’t even say thanks for staying with her. It’s the principal that the child needs supervision.

Plus my husband is good friends with her husband, hunting buddies, and I’m pretty good friends with the mother, but it’s hard for me to know how to discuss. People are really touchy about parenting, especially from non-parents like myself.

Soubresaut's avatar

Sounds like you know enough about the family to make some educated guesses on what’s happening.

For supervision, is there a neighborhood kid who could be paid to watch (and spend time with) the child? Or enough neighbors with flexible schedules that they can watch the child when the family is too busy?

If it’s boredom plain and simple, another possible idea I’ll throw out (if it’s something you can or want to do)—would it be at all helpful to give the three year old a “gift” one day (or give the mom a gift for the child)? Some sort of activity that is very tactile and developmentally appropriate for her, that she can explore with on her own for a stretch of time? Without knowing her, I’m thinking perhaps kinetic sand or play-doh; or a small set of duplos (because legos are too small for her); or a drawing pad (or coloring book) and some crayons; or a couple picture books with real-world images in them, perhaps focused on interests of hers; perhaps even just some kid-safe scissors, tape, and construction paper (or old cereal boxes or cardboard if she can manage it); etc. It might be a less-confrontational way of providing the child a way of occupying her time on her own in open-ended ways? You know the child better than me, so you know if any of those would be appropriate ideas for her.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Soubresaut She’s only three, and has a ton of things to play with, but they’ve packed up most for the move. I mean with two parents and a brother old enough to babysit, seems that someone just needs to actually watch her.
I just don’t want to get scared one day and scream that at them, which is a real possibility knowing myself. Not trying to be rude, but they do this with their dog, too, and he got out and they got sued and it just all wears me out.
I love them as humans but I can’t wait until they move out. :(

Pandora's avatar

Yes and no. I never had one run away from home to get away but I have had my daughter escape naked once over to my neighbors home. My back porched door faced her side door. So she was playing with clothing on and opened the door and escaped. She wasn’t even 2 yet. I didn’t think she would figure out how to open the door. She use to strip all her clothes off. She really didn’t like clothing. I got a called and popped a look to the back before answering the phone and I see her clothes there but no kid. Then I see my neighbor with my naked kid at her door and she was on the phone calling me.
She never had kids either and was startled but then thought maybe something happened to me.
I also had my son escaped as I slept when he was about 4. He was sleep walking at 3 in the morning, and went to my neighbors house crying.
I about had a heart attack when I woke up to my doorbell and they were all standing there with my kid and my door wide open.

I explained I was asleep and didn’t know why he would do that. Then I figured out he was sleep walking. I told him moms okay and go back to bed and he went off to bed. He walked at least the distance of have a block in pitch blackness. We had no street lights and the houses were far apart. Scared the crap out of me. The next day I put a door alarm on my door. One of those cheap ones that are battery powered are enough to wake the dead.

Best thing a parent can do is put door alarms on. Don’t need anything expensive

If the mom is leaving a toddler unsupervised then I would tell the dad and if it continues report them to child care services.

Though find out if it’s because they can’t afford daycare. It may be there is small gap in child care time or because of Covid mom can’t take the kid with her to the store to pick up some stuff and she leaves her sleeping at home. Then you can volunteer to watch her kid while she’s shopping. Some places are only allowing one family member in the stores to shop.

My point is they may be leaving the child at home alone because they don’t have a way to get someone to watch her.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Pandora See, I think that’s normal, the first time, maybe even a second time.

Kudos on the door alarms, good suggestion if they weren’t moving and since they leave the air off and the door wide open most of the time, but the whole yard is fenced.

The dad has expressed concern to us a few times when she wasn’t around, so I think that’s going to have to happen. They’ve gotten in a huge fight before, like with the ladder incident, but I think it’s getting to be about six times now, so I have to say something.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Many years ago I lived in an apartment building on the first floor. Very few people locked their doors. One night I heard a whimpering sound. I found the upstairs neighbors’ “energetic” 2 year old in the hall in front of my door. The little guy got up in the middle of the night, walked out into their hallway, either pushed the elevator buttons or got in when it was open and it went down automatically, and ended up at my place. I found him and returned him to his apartment. His parents (our friends) were sleeping when I went inside so I knocked on their bedroom door and told them I had a surprise for them.
Nowadays you’d be reading about how I had my head blown off.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@LuckyGuy Yeah, once or twice, I get it.

I just talked to my husband and he’s going to talk to the husband about it and make sure he knows this is a recurring situation.

If that doesn’t work, I guess I’ll just blow up at her next time and make sure she remembers it.

YARNLADY's avatar

@KNOWITALL I did call 911 once when I saw a child all alone. They came and got him, and later I read that a couple near me were arrested for child endangerment. They were strangers.
My next door children once knocked on my door and asked me to babysit for them (ages 3, 6), so I brought a table and some crayons and books and sat out on the porch with them until their Dad came looking for them. He apologized and said he fell asleep.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

I did. Haha I snuck out the door in the evening. I was seven, I believe. I was wearing my pajamas and I got to the end of our street (six houses down). My sister came and got me. She was supposed to be keeping an eye on me while my parents were out.

jca2's avatar

@KNOWITALL: It sounds like the mother is lacking something. I don’t know what. If that happened once, then yes, ok, it’s a learning curve. Twice, maybe, then she realizes that she needs to really change things up – pay more attention, put some safety features around the house, etc. The number of times you are talking about indicates that there’s something else going on.

Here, what you are talking about would be a CPS report. Even once is a CPS report. Inadequate guardianship and Lack of Supervision (two charges).

KNOWITALL's avatar

@jca2 In a few months they are moving out of state, not much longer now.

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