My daughter keeps running toward the road while we’re in the yard. I understand I need to make my words “mean something,” but how does this work for my little ones??
What I do when my children are young is make it [what I want them to do] happen while I’m using the words that, eventually, they will respond to willingly. This way, as they get older, they connect those words with what I’m making happen. I say, “You need to stay by Mommy,” as I’m picking them up. Or, “You need to give Mommy that pen. That is not for Aidan,” as I’m taking the pen away. Or, “It’s time for a diaper change,” as I’m swooping him into the air. It’s very hands on. Occasionally, as they get older, I will use the wording first to test their readiness to do it on their own; sometimes they are ready, and sometimes they aren’t. When they aren’t, I’m ready to pick them up and make it happen.
If your daughter is finding a way to get out of the house without you, I would definitely find a way to make that impossible for her, and keep a closer watch in the yard so that she can’t get away – that’s about safety.
Also, sometimes if a child takes off, it’s helpful to get her attention and run the other way. You’re now playing the same game she’s playing while getting her coming towards you. Don’t run too fast and soon you can, turn around and swoop her up.
I will tell my children that if they are unable to listen and cooperate, we will not come back outside (or wherever we are, we will leave) because it’s not safe. I don’t consider this punitive at all. I can’t keep children safe if they are out of control or unable to stop themselves.