4 yo sneaking out


Our just-turned 4-year old has a bad habit of opening doors and leaving the house without our permission. We made it clear that the rule was that she is never to go outside without asking permission from an adult (us, or the babysitter). We also began locking the screen doors, but one of the screen door locks is within her reach, and today she unlocked the door and walked out front into our driveway while the nanny was putting the baby down for a nap (my husband and I were both at work). Luckily, our neighbor saw her and talked to her until the nanny came downstairs and discovered the screen door hanging open.

How should we handle this? Should we talk to her about all the bad things that can happen if she wanders outside by herself (hit by a car, kidnapped, etc)? We've briefly mentioned these things, but they don't seem to "sink in" or scare her. Should we just handle this with discipline?

We're about to implement the Ticket system in our house, as her sassiness/defiance/back-talking has really ramped up since the new baby came along, and we can't handle it any more (and, clearly we're NOT handling it right currently, since it's still happening). Should "Do not leave the house without permission" be one of the target behaviors for which she can lose tickets, and that be the only consequence? Or should we try to impress upon her the dangers of wandering outside without permission? (To be clear, I'm not opposed to her playing outside - sometimes I let her play bubbles or sidewalk chalk in the front yard by herself, but she MUST ask to go outside first, so I can keep an eye on her. We have a VERY small front yard, and the street is only a few feet from our front door).

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