It’s unnerving: Seemingly overnight, your little one is eyeing every set of stairs, playground structure, tree branch and tippy dresser as a climbing opportunity to test her strength, balance and coordination. Climbing develops critical motor skills, but visions of a bad fall dance in your head.
How do you let your child enjoy mastering climbing skills and keep her safe?
“Getting down is the hard part,” says Tim Craig, a nursery school director in Van Nuys, Calif., and vice president of the Association of Child Development Specialists. “So never put your child up onto a structure. Let him climb up on his own, then stand by and talk to him about getting down.” Assume confidence in your child’s ability and speak reassuringly. Teach your toddler to turn around and go down stairs on her tummy by doing it yourself a few times. Watch for unsecured or steep structures that could topple or cause a child to fall backward. If your toddler starts to climb one, just say “Not safe!” in a loud and clear voice, advises Craig.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN TODDLER MAGAZINE, SUMMER ‘07