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Scaling New Heights—and Scaring Mom!: Advice from Moms

Rosana in East Chicago
I've learned that if my son has a designated climbing toy, he'll concentrate on that. Try a jungle gym in the yard. Sometimes it's even more fun and tiring in the snow, which is great before naptime.

Sandy in Panoma
If I act very frightened and tell my son that he's making me scared, he will usually stop. Otherwise, there are always time-outs.

Melissa in Bristol, CT
Tell him that he can climb on the bed (under your supervision) or take him to a park to get out his "climbing spirit." It may be that he likes the thrill of heights, likes the attention he gets from it (even if it's negative) or is just practicing a new skill. Try to determine where his need to climb stems from. Does he do it when you're distracted making dinner, for example? If so, involve him in the activity.

Brenda in Indianapolis
When I feel my son's climbing has gone too far we head to the park. Getting a chance to be active in his own way is worth the time, and I feel better knowing that it's a safer play area than the house. When you can't go out, promise him that you'll go tomorrow. Sometimes that works, as long as you make good on your promise.

Lisa in San Marcos
When my daughter was doing that, I made her stand up facing a wall with her hands behind her back for three minutes. If she turned away from the wall, she had to stay one minute more. Before you send your son to the wall, let him know what he did wrong. When time is up, ask him what he did wrong and tell him why he should stop it.

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez, M.D., M.P.H
I’ve been there, too! The first time I found out my son could climb was when he was 15 months old. We were at home, and I came out of the bathroom to find him on the kitchen counter. He had dragged a kitchen chair over to get on top of it! Luckily, I grabbed him before he fell off.

From 15 to 24 months, children appear to be driven to climb. It’s a normal part of their development to use their increasing strength and agility to explore new places. Some children are naturally more physically active and curious than others. It sounds like your son fits that description, as did mine. These children often go on to have a passion for sports. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Accept that this is probably your son’s natural temperament. No matter how many times you say “no” and try to interest him in activities where he stays seated, he may always be driven to be physically active.
  • Make sure your son gets a lot of physical activity every day. Try to take him outdoors to the park to run around and climb safely on climbing structures designed for toddlers. These have low platforms, guardrails to prevent them from falling off and absorbent material underneath (sand, wood chips or approved rubber matting). Consider enrolling him in a toddler gym class at your local community center or YMCA with safe exercise and climbing opportunities. There are also many safe activities you can do at home such as dancing to music, chasing each other, crawling around the house and rolling balls.
  • Make your home safe for your climber. Move sofas and sofa chairs away from windows to prevent him from falling out. Make sure the entertainment center and other shelves are bolted to the wall to prevent him from pulling them down on himself. Consider installing protective covers on your stove to prevent burns and safety knobs on the bathroom doors. Outdoors, never leave ladders up against the house.
  • Never leave your child unsupervised inside your home or outdoors. Always anticipate what dangers he could get into and try to stay one step ahead of him.
  • Keep talking with your son about safety rules. Be clear and firm about serious dangers: “No touching the hot stove.” “Always hold my hand when crossin
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education