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Remaining with Caregivers in Public Places

“I Can’t Go Anywhere Without You Trying To Run Off”

It is very important for your child to stay with his group when out in public. This is especially important when he begins to do things in larger groups, such as when attending school.  Some kids do well in familiar group situations (e.g., their classroom) but may have difficulty when in a new situation (e.g., a trip to the library or museum). Here are some suggestions to help your child comply and understand the importance of staying nearby when in public places.

  • Talk with your child about why it is important to stay with the “group” or “family” when out in public.  There is a balance between the reality that you know about (e.g., kidnapping), and the reasons you want to offer your child.  Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate, but convey your messages with a great sense of importance and seriousness. 
  • Give examples of what could happen if your child strays away from the group.  Make sure the examples are appropriate so he fully understands the reasons, but don’t make the examples so “scary” that your child will not want to be in group situations. Then give examples of why it is good to be part of a group. For example, it is easier to not get lost when staying together, everyone gets a turn and gets to share their experience with others, making the experience more enjoyable, etc.
  • Before going out in a group, verbally review the situation so your child is aware of what to expect (e.g., you must stay in line with other children, must take turns).

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