I see this often- "I want to stop using punishment with my kids, but what about dangerous situations like running in the street? How can I teach them to be safe in those situations without punishing?"
Here are some things we do to peacefully keep Bug (1.5) from running into the street, maybe one or more of them will help you with your little ones.
1. Babywearing- Seriously, what a lifesaver! Not... just when out and about, but also when trying to get things done around the house with a clingy kiddo. When we're out in a crowded area or busy streets, it beats a stroller hands down. Bug feels secure being near us and loves being up high enough to see everything going on. I've got a lot of experience babywearing with all different carriers. If you want support, post to the wall or message me anytime.
2. Be Proactive- Everyday Bug and I go out to check the mail together. As we near the end of the driveway I say to him, "See the road? That's for cars only. We walk in the grass and the sidewalk." Maybe a car will drive by while we're out, if so I'll say something like, "See the car? Its on the road. The road is for cars only. The car is big and fast. It will hurt us if we walk in front of it. We stay on the grass and the sidewalk." He's getting it. He'll repeat, "Car! Cars only. Stay sidewalk." I let him walk all over the front yard and driveway, and when he gets near the street I remind him in a slightly more stern voice than normal,"The road is for cars only."
3. Don't Force Hand Holding- I always ask if he would like to hold my hand when we walk together. Everywhere. Down the hallway, around the back yard, anywhere we're walking together. Often he wants to, but if he doesn't I just say, "Okay" and walk alongside him. This makes hand holding something pleasant, not something he's forced to do.
4. Be Vigilant- I never assume for any reason that I can let my guard down when Bug has access to the street (or a body of water, or sharp objects, etc). As the parent, it is my responsibility to make arrangements for him to be safe. It is not right for me to pass this burden off to him. If he gets in a dangerous situation I should be upset with myself, not with him. He's too young to fully comprehend the danger of running in traffic, and as his parent it is my responsibility to keep him safe until he does.
5. When All Else Fails, Keep Them Safe- Yes, if he bolted into the street I would grab him. If we're walking into a store from the parking lot and he won't hold my hand or walk right alongside me, I'll pick him up and carry him until we get inside. When this happens I calmly explain, "There are cars in the road. It's dangerous for us to run around cars. I have to keep you safe. I'll set you down to walk when we're inside." That's it. Restraining him is enough. There is no need for yelling, hitting, or time out.
The goal is to teach him to be safe. Just like teaching kids anything, it is going to take time. We have to be patient while he learns.See More