Modern Parent Q&A: Climbing

We all have the same question running through our minds when we see our children climbing; “Is my child the only one climbing everything in sight?” Luckily, Miss Heather offered up some tips on The Rhode Show on how to work with this developmentally appropriate, yet scary behavior! Watch the segment here.

Question: “(What are) effective ways to stop your small toddler from climbing on the furniture…  (My child) learned how to climb on the coffee table this weekend and it’s TERRIFYING. And saying “no” only makes her want to do it more (of course). And I get why she’s confused as to what she can/can’t climb on…school is like one giant jungle gym…”

What you need to know about climbing:

To our viewers – this is definitely a challenging obstacle to have to face with young children!  The good news is, climbing is a developmentally appropriate behavior for toddler children.  Children who begin to climb as toddlers are showing us that they have acquired so many wonderful skills:

  • – Balance
  • – Coordination
  • – Awareness of space
  • – Eagerness to explore the world

What you can do about it:

Unfortunately, trying to “stop” a toddler from climbing is not always the answer.  Some children will stop doing something after the first time you tell them not to, or if you remove them from climbing on the coffee table, from example.  But, this is only a minuscule some

Most of the time, if we tell a child “no,” or to stop doing something, the chances of them repeating the behavior sky rocket.  Furthermore, if your child attends an early learning program, their environment it set up in a way that allows them to climb, jump, and run in appropriate areas.  This can send a confusing message to your child when you are trying to prevent this behavior in your home!  Here are some useful tips and tricks:

  • Provide safe areas for climbing. Build in times to climb on a step stool into your daily routines.  Set up an area in your house that is safe for climbing. 
  • Anticipate accidents. You childproofed your house — now it’s time to climb-proof it, too. Put away rickety chairs, bookcases, or side tables, and make sure wall units or large bookcases are securely attached to the wall. Never leave stepladders or stools out and unattended, and don’t tempt your child to climb (and maybe fall) by placing desired objects in view on high shelves.
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  • Switch things up a bit – do you think your child is trying to climb due to boredom?  Put some toys away, take new ones out.  Or, provide your child with household items to play with that are safe and appropriate for them – children LOVE life-like things to play with!
  • Be persistent and patient, but do not allow your child to sense your stress or tension.  Sometimes if children know they get a “rise” out of us as adults, their behavior will continue to persist over time. 
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  • Lastly, distract, diverge, and redirect as much as possible.  Are you afraid your child may begin to climb?  Try to prevent the behavior from even happening before it starts.
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  • This article was written by Heather Grocott, Director of Education and Training at The Children’s Workshop in Lincoln, RI.