Is it common for 5 year old boys to threaten to "move away" or "leave the house" after discipline?

"I've been having this problem with my 5 year old! Is it common for boys this young to threaten to "move away" or "leave the house" after discipline? We're talking about fairly mild discipline too... Perhaps he was told to sit by himself because he was fighting with his 3 year old brother and needed to calm down. I keep trying to teach him that it is more appropriate for him to want to go to his room or somewhere in the house by himself. I want to teach him that it's okay to be angry, and it's okay to be want to be separated from his brother for a while (who can drive him crazy). But wanting to leave the house is frightening to us because we live on a corner property next to a busy avenue."

Asked by Chris in commenting on the article, "When Your Child Wants to Run Away":
In Topics: Parenting / Our Family, Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Boys Town National Hotline
May 10, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Thank you for reaching out to!

It's possible that your son has heard someone else threaten to move away or leave the house. He could have heard talk like this on TV or in movies, or if he is in school or day care he could have picked this up from another child.  

You are correct in teaching your son that it is dangerous and not acceptable to leave the house when he is angry.  If you are concerned that he may actually try to leave, it may be a good idea to install a special lock on your door to prevent him from opening it when you are sleeping or busy.  

You might want to watch for certain incidents which occur, that prompt your son to say he wants to leave the house.  Maybe the next time he fights with his brother, try using more of a time-in approach, where you sit with him and his brother and try to calm things down together, rather than sending him away.  It would be a good thing to teach the two of them to apologize and make up to each other.  They are never too young to learn these skills.

If you would like to discuss this situation more or have other questions or concerns, please contact our toll-free Hotline.  Our counselors are here to support parents and children of all ages.  And, we are available 24 hours every day.  

Take care and best wishes to you and your family!
Cynthia, Crisis Counselor
Boys Town National Hotline
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Additional Answers (1)

BigSis writes:
I hope that he doesn't actually leave your house! Make sure to keep your eye on him, just in case.

When I was around the same age, I used to tell my parents that I was going to run away too. The reality was, I never really understood what I was saying, I was just copying the cartoons I used to watch. My mama asked me questions like, "why do you want to run away" and "if you run away, where are you going to go? where are you going to stay?" She even went along with my idea of running away, while saying things like, "someone might steal you and we will never see each other again." She changed my mind once she started telling me about the negative things that could happen. I was always with my mama and just the thought of losing that comfort made me rethink running away.

Maybe you can help him create a "sanctuary" room of some sort, where he can be comfortable and be himself- free of his brother. This may help rid him of feeling the need to run away. Good luck!
> 60 days ago

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