Once your baby becomes a tot, it’s time to think about toddler safety. It can be frightening to watch your two-year-old at times. One minute he’s standing with his feet firmly on the floor, and the next, he’s climbing over the furniture or running furiously without looking where he is going. Without any real sense of danger, he plunges headlong with limitless energy from one potentially harmful situation into another.
But whenever you furiously reprimand him for his lack of safety, he bursts into tears, not because he realises how close he was to injury but because he genuinely cannot understand why you are so angry with him. As far as he is concerned, you are worrying unnecessarily. In his mind, he is invincible.
How toddlers think
Psychologists researching into the development of a child’s sense of danger have found that:
– Children under the age of three have virtually no ability to anticipate hazards, which means they need extra vigilant supervision when they explore. It isn’t until after their third birthday that they become more aware of their surroundings.
– Your two-year-old’s judgement is affected by his emotions. Even if your toddler is one of those who are apparently sensible and cautious, he may become reckless when upset.
– Excitement affects perception, especially with young children. That’s why the thrill of seeing his friend on the opposite side of a busy road blots out all sense of self-preservation – he may try to dash right through the heavy traffic.
(Also read: 7 ways to teach your kid about stranger danger)
Safety with boys vs girls
If your two-year-old is a boy, he will typically blame someone else when he is injured accidentally, whereas a girl is more likely to blame herself and hence change her behaviour. Boys are generally more reckless.
There is evidence that a two-year-old child is more likely to develop a sense of danger when he is rewarded for acting sensibly instead of punished for thoughtless behaviour that put himself at risk.
Parents are more tolerant of energetic, daredevil behaviour from their young sons than they are from their young daughters, thus suggesting that they find such behaviour more acceptable from boys than from girls.
When your two-year-old does hurt himself, the chances are that he will forget the unpleasant experience very quickly. The incident easily slips his mind, making him happy to repeat the dangerous experience the next time round.
(Also read: 10 escalator safety tips you should know)
Making your home safe
Do your best to ensure that your home environment is safe for your two-year-old who might put himself at risk without even realising it.
Some toddler safety tips to follow: Use plastic electric socket covers to guard against his prying little fingers, adequate locks on cupboard doors to stop him from getting inside and drinking those fascinating bottles under the sink, as well as external door handles at an appropriate height to prevent them from being opened by your young child.
Of course, no family home can ever be 100 per cent safe from the exploits of your young adventure-seeker who is prepared to try anything once – but this should not stop you from trying to create an injury-free zone.
How to teach your tot about safety
There are other steps you can take to keep him safe. Firstly, tell him clearly what he can and cannot do – but be sure to include positive limits in addition to negative ones, so that your child knows where he can explore as well as which areas are off-limits.
Secondly, try to have more “do” rules than “don’t” rules about toddler safety.
Finally, provide plenty of opportunities for him to explore safely, as he will have no choice otherwise but to put himself at risk in order to achieve excitement and adventure. If your toddler especially enjoys climbing, running, balancing and so on, for instance, take him to a good outdoor play area.