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How to Keep Your Toddler from Getting Into Everything!

Alison Wood |28, July 2013


Crash! You wince as you hear that oh-so-familiar sound. Unfortunately your toddler has already broken five jarred candles, all of your drinking glasses and your crystal candle holders from your great aunt. What has he done now?

You slowly and cautiously creep into the other room dreading to see the damage. There, in the middle of your living room, your chubby toddler is grinning ear to ear as your large blue flower vase lays on the ground in a thousand pieces. You storm out of the room so your child doesn't see your tears of frustration. Will this ever end? Is there something I can do to change this recurring nightmare?

Toddlers are naturally curious and are exploring their new world. Everything we take for granted; the birds singing, the scratchiness of grass, the ornate butterflies that flutter past, your toddler is experiencing for the first time. He is enjoying the new scenery and has not quite learned what is breakable, what is harmful etc. You, as a parent, have to teach your little ones these facts of life. Even though toddlers are small, cute little chunky monkeys, they can still learn some basic things about life! So, how can you teach them? Here are some ideas to try.

The "No Touch" zone.
Certain things are not for little hands to explore. If possible, take those items and place them in front of your toddler. Then, point to each item and in a firm voice say,"No touch." If your toddler touches, use the discipline method your family has chosen and let your toddler know that touching those special items are not allowed. Then you can place some or all of those items in a certain place that is also off limits. After about two days of consistent training, your little one will give up on the "no touch" zone. If you are only consistent with teaching him not to touch the items half of the time, he will continue to touch. Try being consistent every time he touches and you should see results quickly.

Stay involved.
Ignoring your toddler for several hours only makes disasters more prone to happen. Your munchkin needs lots of undivided attention. Try making your phone calls, answering emails and surfing the net when your toddler is asleep. During waking hours, keep in close contact with him. Even if you have a lot of cleaning to do, think of creative ways to include him. Place him on your lap when you fold clothes and let him try to fold some wash cloths. Going grocery shopping? Let him place the fruit and veggies in the bag and weigh the food. Keeping him involved in your day will give him less time to get in trouble.

Plan activities.
Little ones tend to roam, write on walls and break prized possessions when they are completely bored. If you need to get something done that you cannot involve your child in, give him an activity to enjoy during that time. Grab some crayons and a new coloring book. Coloring can keep little ones busy and quiet for a long time. Try giving him food he can play with, and then enjoy eating! You can make airplanes, teddy bears and all kind of run things with food items. Another great idea is "busy boxes." These are simply containers that you fill with items that have sensory appeal, like colorful and textured items. Sometimes people place colored rice in a container with several cookie cutters and measuring spoons. Magnets are also great to include in a busy box.

Have play yard time.
Do you still have your play yard or pack n play? Schedule a time each day for your toddler to enjoy play time in the play yard. This will keep him in one place while you prepare lunch or get a shower. It may take some time to teach him that if a parent places him in the play yard, then he has to stay in there. Toddlers can climb out, but this is also a great opportunity to teach your toddler the importance of obeying parents. Once your child learns to obey and stay in the pack n play, it will free up your hands and keep your breakables safe!

Have you found something that worked for your family? We would love to hear about it in the comments section below!

We all enjoy keeping pretty things around the house, and just because you have a toddler doesn't mean you have to box everything up until he turns 15. Remember, you don't have to child-proof your house, you can house-proof your child!

Alison Wood is a stay-at-home mom of six and freelance writer and blogger. She enjoys raising her six children and desires to share her experiences to help other mothers.

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Showing 1 - 4 out of 4 Comments
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Mary K Dec 13, 2016 11:08:38 PM ET

Please put heirlooms in boxes until children learn how to behave. Go to a thrift store and get pretty things that have no value to your family. Use those items to teach with. Never leave a toddler alone with broken glass! A small cut is big business for little ones. Get a broom to clean up the mess! Inspect the child for small cuts. Especially in eye area and mouth. Get immediate help if glass was swallowed.

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Guest Apr 30, 2014 06:06:56 AM ET

My daughter and our two year old grandson live with us. One of her friends gave her a jumperoo for him. I had never seen one before. We put him in it at about three months and he loved it. At first he would stay in it only for fifteen minutes, but he just kept staying in it longer each time. He finally got to where he would stay in it for two hours or more. He just jumped to his little hearts content. It was the most wonderful thing because when we needed to clean house or something else to do we could put him in it and know he was safe. We would turn on this educational cartoon he loves called Super Why and he learned a lot at the same time. He just turned two and he can recognize and say most letters of the alphabet and the phonic sound.

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Guest Feb 12, 2014 07:35:00 AM ET

This is magical! So often other parents complain to me about their "monster" child, and I say the same thing every time -- they need mental stimulation, and lots of it. Toddlers are easily bored, and naturally extremely curious. If you don't keep them busy, then they will find anything to keep busy. positive feedback for proper entertainment, and consistent discipline for the no-nos. my little one is 2.5 years, and extremely independent, but immensely well behaved :)

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littlekingdom Aug 10, 2013 06:35:15 AM ET

Great article Alison. I can so relate to this. Parents of the lovely kids at our school keep bringing this up from time to time. Kids ARE curious by nature and they do not understand the difference between what they can touch and what they can't. Your advice is greatly appreciated.

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