RUN AWAY SYNDROME
Dr.Krishna Prasad Sreedhar

 
This is a symptom seen in children when they are under some form of conflict which Psychologists call STRESS. This occurs predominantly in male children. This involves sudden or preplanned running away from one's own home to the house of a relative or a of friend or to some distant place the child has once visited, or to a place which is totally unknown to the child. Having reached the place or on his way, the child realises that he cannot sustain for long without the emotional and economic support of the parents. At that point, the child decides to return and tries to come back home or would let the parents inform his hideout. The disappearance usually does not prolong for more than a week.

When the child returns, he is most likely to appear shy, guilt ridden, submissive and silent. At that point those who receive the child back should not find fault with him nor scold or punish him as the child expects the worst. Slowly some one in the family with whom the child has good emotional link could start exploring the reasons for the running away. Such a child is best eased back into the main stream of the day to day family life with pieces of advice that it is not healthy to run away and that he should muster courage to face situations of stress. A close relative without any tint of black mailing may meaningfully counsel one-time runners. However, habitual runners need counselling or psychotherapy from a psychologist.

Why Do Children Run Away?

All children are basically insecure, as they are emotionally immature. This immaturity is part of the growing process. Each day they become more and more secure if the family is a close knit one with enough freedom for communication and emotional expression.

Thus children run away because of the following reasons:

  1. Constant quarrels of parents, causing severe insecurity in the child.
  2. If they feel unloved.
  3. Sibling rivalry or arrival of a new child.
  4. Fear of physical danger like the father beating them for a certain wrongdoing.
  5. Fear that there will be withdrawal of emotional support for wrong doings.
  6. Failure or decline in the examination or test paper.
  7. If prone to impulsiveness.
  8. To accompany a friend in distress.

REMEDIAL MEASURES

  1. First and foremost understand that children are immature and impulsive.
  2. On return do not accuse or punish the child. A person who has good rapport with the child can slowly open up the issue and allow the child to give vent to his emotions and guilt feelings.
  3. Assure the child that he was not wrong but his action was unbecoming of a brave child.
  4. Tell the child that every body has periods of insecurity and uncertainty and that squarely facing the situation alone would solve the problem.
  5. Make the child understand that his was an action of escapism and that it is unhealthy.
  6. Train the child for healthy coping of similar situations.
  7. If the above fail, seek the help of a counselor or Psychologist.

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