Seven-year-old Yamato Tanooka of Hokkaido, Japan, was throwing rocks at people during a family outing in summer 2016.
His parents wanted to teach him a lesson. So they pulled over by the side of a road next to the woods, removed him from the car, and drove away.
They returned five minutes later, hoping that their punishment had worked. But he was already gone.
Yamato remained missing for six days. The woods had tall grass and plants that the search party needed to comb through to be sure that they didn’t miss finding him, in case his body was lying on the ground.
It was cold at night, and it also rained, which made it seem even more hopeless to find him alive.
Meanwhile, Yamato truly believed that his parents had abandoned him because of his bad behavior.
He decided to go deeper into the woods to look for shelter. After walking for 5 kilometers (3 mi), Yamato came upon an empty military base with small huts. He opened the door of one and found a thin mattress on the floor. He was able to sleep comfortably. But aside from drinking rainwater, he had nothing to eat for six days.
When the search party finally found him, Yamato was taken to the hospital. Aside from hunger and mild hypothermia, he physically recovered.
According to Dr. L. Alan Sroufe from the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development, even simply threatening to leave your child behind anywhere when he is misbehaving is damaging and manifests into a fear of abandonment.