How to Protect Your Children When They Start Running into Things


Just getting into first gear in their first year, one-year-olds feel the joy of exploration from their toes to their teeth. They don’t automatically know what’s off-limits and what isn’t, but by two and older they’re able to make the distinction once you’ve set them straight. While restricting the adventures of your little explorers, keep in mind the balance you’re trying to strike between letting normal, healthy curiosity be expressed and teaching what behavior is and isn’t appropriate.

Preventing the Problem

Childproof your home or apartment.

Keeping doors closed, stairways blocked, cabinets locked, and dangerous areas fenced off will reduce the number of times you have to say no to your child. Children under three years old are busy establishing their independence and making their mark on the world, and they can’t understand why they can’t go wherever they want. Establishing physical limitations will help you avoid unnecessary confrontations.

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Decide what’s off-limits.

Decide what your child’s boundaries will be and communicate this information early and often. For example, say, “You may play in the living room or in the kitchen, but not in Daddy’s office.”

Put away valuable items you don’t want broken.

A one-, two-, or three-year-old will not understand the difference between an expensive vase and a plastic one. Play it safe by removing valuable items until your little one won’t grab for everything despite being told not to.

Teach your child how and when he can go into off-limits areas.

Explain to your child the acceptable ways of playing in off-limits areas. Never allowing him to go into a room or across the street, for example, makes him want to do it even more. Say, “You can go into Mommy’s office, but only with Mommy or another adult.”

Solving the Problem

What to Do

Use reprimands.

Consistently reprimand your child for a repeated offense, to teach him you mean what you say. Say, “Stop going into that room! I’m sorry you were playing in here. You know this is off-limits. I’d like you to ask Mommy to come with you if you want to go into this room.”

Put your child in Time Out.

If your child climbs on the kitchen table repeatedly (and if that’s a no-no), reprimand him again and put him in Time Out to reinforce the message.

Compliment your child when he follows the rules.

Tell your child how proud you are of him for remembering not to do cer tain things. Giving him that compliment will reward his desirable behavior with attention, which will encourage him to do the right thing again. Say, “How nice of you to play in here where you’re supposed to,” or, “Thanks for not climbing on the coffee table.”

Teach your child to touch with his eyes, not his hands.

Tell your child that he may look at a piece of jewelry, for example, with his eyes but not with his hands. This allows him the freedom to explore the item in a limited, controlled way.

What Not to Do

Don’t leave guns or knives where children can reach them

No matter how much safety training children receive, the allure of weapons is too great to resist. Keep all guns locked up, each with its own approved trigger lock, and lock up the ammunition in a separate place that is inaccessible to children. Also, keep all knives locked away in a childproof place. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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Don’t make no-no’s more inviting by getting upset.

If you become angry when your child breaks a rule, he’ll see that he can get your attention from misbehavior, and he’ll be encouraged to get into trouble more often.

Don’t overly punish

Rather than punishing your child for being naturally curious and getting into things, teach him how to use his curiosity safely, a skill that will serve him well his entire lifetime. Instead of trying to stamp out inappropriate behavior, emphasize the positive

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Filed Under: Family & Relationships

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About the Author: Roberta Southworth is a psychiatrist by profession. She likes to help out people by writing informative tips on how people can to solve their family and relationship issues. She is currently staying in Ireland. She has 5 years of couple counseling experience.

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