Only a few months ago, you worried that your little one wasn’t walking. Now, he’s running and climbing everywhere – and, suddenly, you can’t leave him alone for a minute. How to you teach your toddler about safety, especially at home?
Your one-year-old is so excited at his new level of independence. Before he could walk, he needed you to take him from one place to another, to bring him his toys from the table at the far side of the room, and to lift him high so that he could see further.
But now that your toddler is up and about, he does all of these things by himself. This significantly boosts his self-belief.
Knowing that he’s able to climb those steps without your help, walk further without you having to carry him and run slightly faster than he could the day before, makes him feel good about himself.
His confidence surges when he realises that his physical skills allow him to be less dependent on others.
On top of that, he simply has bags of energy. He loves life, never seems to tire and wants to explore everywhere.
Although physical movements (running, jumping and climbing) burn off some of this natural energy, they don’t tire him out completely.
In fact, you actually run the risk of him becoming too excited, to the point where he’s irritable, uncooperative and refuses to sleep.
Of course, you’re delighted to see him progress with his development and want to encourage him to improve his motor skills.
But for his sake – and your sanity – you need to set some limits.
Here are four suggestions on teaching your toddler to stay safe at home.
Show him where he can go
Now’s a good time to point out where he’s allowed to run around at home (for example, in the bedroom where there’s wooden flooring).
Also, tell him where he isn’t allowed to play (near the stairs where he could easily fall). Don’t be afraid to say “no” – and give a stern warning when you see him hurtling headlong towards a danger area.
Create a safe play zone
This is not always possible, and much depends on the size of your home and the way the rooms are used. But if you can set aside a small area of the house just for your active toddler to run around in, that makes life easier for the both of you.
Remove all hazards from that area and put soft carpeting or mats on the floor, so that he can gallop around safely without you hovering over him every second.
Childproof your house
It’s not just his running that you need to worry about; it’s also that he can now access places that were previously out of reach, such as the upper shelves with those fragile objects, and under the sink with the eye-catching bottles.
Have a good look around your house – from your curious child’s perspective – and eliminate as many potential hazards as you can. Work on the assumption that if it can go wrong, it will.
Teach him to assess the risk
Although he’s young, it’s not too early to teach your toddler about safety. You can encourage him to take responsibility for his behaviour. Instead of simply telling him that he can’t run here or climb there, give him a reason.
For example, explain that if he charges around in the dining room, he might trip on the furniture and hurt himself. He’ll gradually start to anticipate the possible risks and begin to self-regulate.