How to set a strong boundary to stop your kid running away from you on the street, according to psychologist Dr Becky

Does your kid run away from you on the street? This one tip could help put a stop to it

Slim middle-aged woman with brown hair in beige sportswear walking on sidewalk with her little boy with short brown hair in blue tracksuit holding hands and smiling
(Image credit: Getty Images)

So many parents struggle to set boundaries because they want their kids to be happy, but having clear limits gives your child physical and emotional security. 

When you’re struggling with a child who won’t listen and won’t do as you ask, empty threats are often fired in their direction, hoping that those bold claims - like taking away their iPad for a week or cancelling a playdate - will eventually enforce change. It’s rarely the case though, as kids will soon catch on when they realise your words don’t have weight, and the cycle continues, leaving you questioning, should we just let kids do what they want?

When it comes to teaching our kids good behaviour, it all comes down to boundaries and taking control as a parent. “A boundary is something you tell your child you will do,” writes Dr Becky Kennedy, a clinical psychologist, in her latest Instagram reel. 

A common scenario you might find yourself in is when you’re out with your kid – walking to school or going shopping on the high street – and they keep running away from you. Frustrating and kind of dangerous, right? You need them to stay close so that you can keep them safe, but they don't understand that.

How to set an effective boundary to stop your kid from running off

A post shared by Dr. Becky Kennedy | Parenting

A photo posted by drbeckyatgoodinside on

Using this example, Dr Becky explains that it’s our job as parents to set a firmer boundary so that our kid can’t physically run away from us. You’re probably saying things like, ‘stay close to me’ and ‘stop running away from me’ on loop, but Dr Becky suggests trying this instead: “Hey, sweetie, it looks like you’re having a hard time staying close to me, so I’m going pick you up and carry you. My number one job is to keep you safe and right now, safety means holding you. At another time we can work on your walking more independently in a safe way.”

While it sounds like a gentle parenting technique, Dr Becky assures that it’s a sturdy and effective way of setting a boundary with your child. The author of Good Inside said: “In the second [response], I’m actually embodying my authority as a parent. I’m not going to let my kid get into a dangerous situation and I’m not going to let myself get frustrated over and over. A boundary is something you tell your kid you will do, and it requires your kid to do nothing. That’s how you get your kid to stop running away from you on the street.”

We trust that Dr Becky always suggests effective techniques for her followrs, but we have to agree with some of the Instagram comments that said it sounds good in theory, but would probably only work if you had one kid to look after at the time.

In other parenting news, if you do this one thing, your kids will listen more and pushback less and these expert-led tips might help everyone leave the house on time if you struggle to get the kids out the door.

Daniella Gray
Family News & Wellbeing Writer

From building healthy family relationships to self-care tips for mums and parenting trends - Daniella also covers postnatal workouts and exercises for kids. After gaining a Print Journalism BA Hons degree and NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, Daniella started writing for Health & Wellbeing and co-hosted the Walk to Wellbeing podcast. She has also written for Stylist, Natural Health, The Sun UK and Fit & Well. In her free time, Daniella loves to travel, try out new fitness classes and cook for family and friends.