Why do children runaway from home? There are many reasons why children leave home but the most common reason is avoidance. They rebel against the rules you have set forth in your home and mistakenly believe that things will be better if they leave. Your daughter may be involved with a much older boy that you disapprove of. Rather than face the consequences of her actions, she will simply leave so she can be with him. Your son feels he is old enough to make his own decisions and feels too restricted by your rules. He may feel he is "too old" to have a curfew and will stay out as long as he wants to. Maybe he won't come home at all. There may be problems at school your child doesn't want to deal with. He may have gotten into trouble and rather than face you he will choose not to come home at all.
So how do you deal with all this? Locking them in their room is not the answer. Neither is beating them into submission. Communication is your best tool for connecting with your child. He may not want to talk to you about what is going on in his life or share with you his concerns. Opening up the avenues for communication won't be easy. But one thing is certain; doing nothing will only make matters worse. It may seem at times that you are nagging your child and getting no response. You may feel yourself getting angry and instead of having a conversation, you are soon in the middle of an argument. It's not easy to hold your temper when you your child is being unreasonable. But the things you say in anger are soon regretted later when you have had time to cool off. If you feel yourself getting angry, take a "time-out" so you can get yourself back under control.
Only by communicating with your child will you begin to discover what they may be going through. Find out who their friends are. Meet their friends' parents. By establishing relationships with them you can help each other when problems arise. Ask your children where they are going, who they will be with, when they will be home. For older children, make compromises, when reasonable. Let them stay out an extra hour, as long as you know where they are going or what they will be doing. But set limits. If they come home later than agreed on without calling, ask them what happened to delay them. If it was truly beyond their control, explain to them how you feel about them not calling to let you know. Otherwise explain to them what discipline you will impose and why you are doing it. They need to learn to face the consequences of their actions.
Sometimes your best efforts of communicating with your children are not enough. Peer pressure may drive them to test the limits of your authority. If necessary, enlist the aid of a professional. Talk to the counselors and teachers at your child's school. They are a good source of information on your child's attitude away from home. They can also counsel you on dealing with whatever issues your child may have. Staying informed is the best way of staying in touch with your child.