Chances are, if this is a go-to tactic for you, it was likely done to you when you were little. Perhaps you even remember the quickening of your heart as you ran to the car so as not to be left behind.
That kind of fear-based parenting won’t work for long and has lasting negative effects.
Let’s do things differently. Let’s be respectful parents who don’t need to resort to fear or manipulation.
Instead, when you are ready to go, know that your child is inhabiting an entirely different reality. They need a moment to catch up.
Go physically close to your child.
Notice his sand creation. Let him see you noticing it.
Get his full attention and tell him while looking in his eyes, “It’s time to go home. Is there anything you need to finish up before we leave?”
Give him a few moments to make the transition. You can use that time to breath in the connection between the two of you and just be present.
After a few minutes, say, “we are leaving now”. If you can tell he doesn’t believe you, put your hand gently on him or his sand toys, and ask firmly, “would you like to walk or shall I carry you?”. This is a choice, not a threat.
Then kindly and firmly and calmly follow-through by taking his hand or picking him up. He may be super sad or angry. That’s ok. That’s his choice but he is leaving the park with you now.
P.S. This compassionate, respectful way of parenting is soooo NOT convenient.
We are training human beings to trust us and themselves. We will make mistakes but we’re doing the best we know how. And that is more than good enough.