“My child runs away from me at the mall. Help!”

From the mailbag:

"Dear Mama Bear,

My 5 year old boy Jerry is so stubborn and he has a mind of his own!  Whenever I call him at the mall, he giggle and runs in the opposite direction.  What should I do?

Signed, Confused"

Dear Confused,

This is one of the spine-tingling joys of being a parent; you're the one in charge, not your adorable free-spirited son Jerry.  Why the heck are you even giving your son an opportunity to mis-behave?

You have to remember:

Spending time with you in the mall is a privilege, not an automatic gift! 

And if your son is disrespectful enough to ignore you in public (you!  The parent!), then your child simply does not deserve to mingle with the rest of humanity.

I'd suggest duct-taping your son to a stroller or perhaps attaching a 1,000 pound pull leash, but for some reason, society tends to balk at such simple methods. 

Sad, that.

Have you spelled out any consequences and then (most importantly) followed though when necessary?  For example, take your son's favorite toy or plushie and tell him:

"If you run away, your toy will be sent to jail, and you will lose XYZ (XYZ being his favorite activity, treat, etc.)"

That way, he can proactively *see and experience* that when he misbehaves and ignores you, he ends up hurting much longer after the situation has passed.

It's called "consequences" and if you do not start now, it will only get worse and worse.

The *instant* your son runs away, *stop* your shopping, grab him and take him *home*.

Implement the consequences. 

Make them emotionally painful so that he *remembers* them.  That's the goal of consequences, no?

It's 'way better that you nip this in the bud at an early age; if he ignores you now, it will only increase in severity.  And you sure as hell do *not* want to deal with a disrespectful teen in the later years.

Trust me on that!

Thus speaks Mama Bear.

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