I can’t exactly recall the context, but my five year old told my wife and I that he didn’t like us and that he was going to run away.
My first reaction was to shout, “how dare you say that,” back at him. However, I harbored the initial reaction and was slow to gather my response. I simply said, “okay.”
Worry and concern started to arise in my wife and I as he headed out the door. I vaguely remember giving him a snack, but I could be completely wrong here. None the less, we stood by while he left us, off into the wide open world.
How far can a five year old get anyway? Not sure exactly, because our son eventually came back, but maybe a couple houses down. The concern did drive my wife to explore a little in our immediate yard and surrounding neighbors.
The point is, is that he’s angry. He’s only five–and while I’m shocked that he even comes up with the idea to runaway–he’s voicing his anger, not the actual idea of living off on his own.
According to Melanie Greenberg who writes on Psychology today, “Hearing and respecting feelings, allowing choice, yet setting fair and clear limits on unacceptable behavior is the healthy balance that we should all strive for.”
No matter how far back it was for you, think about how you reacted when a parent or guardian shouted at you. Did they help steer you toward more acceptable behavior?
Exactly. If you were like me, you built up a resentment. Allowing an understanding between parent and child not only builds their self esteem, it keeps dads (and moms) more connected with their kids.
When in doubt, circle back to love, tolerance and understanding for keeping communication flowing.