Dear Sue Ellen,
My five-year-old daughter packed her Hello Kitty suitcase and told me she was going to run away because I wouldn’t buy her some ballerina slippers. She was really mad. I let her walk to the end of our driveway and then decided she had gone far enough. It would be sort of funny if it didn’t scare me to death that she will try that again and something bad will happen to her. Am I over-reacting?
Concerned Mom, Tina
Dear Concerned Mom, Tina:
I am just curious…what did she pack in her Hello Kitty suitcase? When my four-year-old cousin ran away she packed peanut butter and crackers in her Shirley Temple suitcase. (You probably don’t even know who Shirley Temple was). She walked to the end of the driveway about two car lengths long. It must have made her hungry because she ate all of her peanut butter and crackers and it made her thirsty so she came back to the house for some Kool-Aid. She announced to all of us she was still mad, but she didn’t run away again.
I regret that children are not safe in today’s world. There is a growing epidemic in our country called sex trafficking. It’s a money-making business where young girls and boys are kidnapped, drugged and forced to do unspeakable things for money. Now, instead of watching our precocious children pretend they are running away, we have to monitor their every move. We have to empower our kids to avoid unsafe and potentially abusive situations. Those are hard conversations. We don’t want to instill fear in children, but awareness of potential dangers is necessary.
My suggestion to you is have a conversation with your daughter. Explain to her that running away is dangerous, but there are some other things she can do when she’s mad. Here are some examples: Draw a mad picture; She can run laps inside the house to burn off her frustration. If your family can tolerate this, she could go into her room, close the door and scream really loud until she feels better (I hope your doors are thick). Together you can figure out what to do. By doing this, you are teaching your daughter that sometimes we all get mad and that we have to learn how to deal with our anger in safe ways. You are also embracing her feelings. Here are some things she can’t do when she is mad: Hit, throw, punch, kick, be disrespectful of you and others.
Something we all need to accept is that bad behavior almost always fails to give us the outcome we are hoping for. Remind your daughter that running away didn’t get her those ballerina slippers, (and don’t you dare break down and get them for her!).
Just because we want things, it doesn’t mean we should have them. Yeah…that is a truth that’s harder and harder to find in the world today.
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Dear Sue Ellen,