The following information can help you take steps to understand a child's motivation for running away, the warning signs of a potential runaway, communication that helps prevent runaways, and steps to take to reduce the risk of runaway.
Motivation for Running Away
- To avoid emotional experience or consequence that they are expecting in some future encounter or situation
- To be with other people who are supportive, encouraging and active
- To be in places which are distractions from other problems in their lives
- To change or stop what they are doing or about to do
- To escape a recurrent or ongoing unpleasant, painful or difficult experience in their life
Warning Signs of a Potential Runaway
- Attempts to communicate result in arguments, raised voices, name calling, and failure to reach an acceptable agreement.
- Increasing pattern of impulsive, irrational and emotionally abusive behavior by either the parent or the child.
- The child has a network of friends, who are largely unsupervised, oppositional, and generally anti-social.
Communication That Helps Prevent Runaways
- Do not interrupt when they are explaining something, even if you disagree, wait until they are done.
- Never call your child names of label them with words such as, liar, punk, immature, selfish, cruel, stupid, unkind. Your child will begin to think of you in negative terms, and start calling you worse names.
- Never dare your child to runaway thinking that they may not.
- Stay calm and quiet, make eye contact, and don't respond when your child is angry, wait until they are calm.
Steps to Reduce Runaway Risk
- Develop a crisis intervention plan for your child if the situation involves a crisis or recurrent crisis.
- Evaluate any alcohol or drug use and treat as recommended by a professional.
- If appropriate enroll in am educational or skill training group that will improve communication and interpersonal skills,