It’s scary when toddlers run away.
Dad decided to take baby, new puppy and a 4 year old boy for a walk. The boy ran away from the Dad. Once the boy returned, dad said with empathy, “This is so sad, we have to go home now since I can’t be sure you’ll stay with me.” This little boy started crying and Dad responded with his brain dead one liner, “I know.” He kept repeating it over and over as his little guy whined and cried and complained.
Once at home, the evening proceeded as usual, dinner, bath, and story with no more mention (or lecture or punishment) of the incident. At bed time the boy told his dad, “Dad, I’m sorry I ran away from you tonight. I’ll always stay with you next time.”
We all got choked up listening to the story and how the Dad preserved his relationship with his son by lovingly and empathetically setting limits and how his 4 year old son so thoughtfully responded.