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Toddlers and calculated risk...

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
I am wondering how many of you mamas and poppas let your toddler do things that others may deem unsafe? I have a feeling after hanging out with some other parents this weekend that we tend to be pretty relaxed about many things that a lot of parents freak out about. I don't mean anything that is deadly like car seats or running in the street, just the smaller everyday potential dangers that seem to arise. I don't think we do it out of laziness, in fact it tends to be a lot more work in many instances, I think we just know our LO and her capabilities, but we tend to get some strange looks. Here are some examples:

standing up in the grocery cart - those dumb straps don't do anything to keep her contained, she figured out how to get free and would stand up on the seat so we figured the actual cart was *more* safe? - edited - I just wanted to add that we only do this when DH is there as well walking beside the cart, when I am alone, I will just wear her...seemed important.

standing up in the bath tub - It is a constant struggle to keep her on her bum, so we just decided to cover the tub with a non-slip mat, covered the faucet and let her roam a bit.

walking (actually usually running ) and exploring in the grocery store, hardware store etc. - She loves to take things off shelves, we pick up after her of course.

Just curious about if there are any other parents of little dare devils out there and if so, how far do you let them go?
post #2 of 39
I let my kiddo do things others wouldn't... but I also DON'T let her do things many would haha

I absolutely do not allow standing in carts, but she definitely stands in the bathtub... in fact, I just went ahead and ended bathtime since she clearly didn't want to sit and play with the toys. She already gets showers now.. started at 16 months old. We just take them together... SO much easier.

We also let her explore, but only when we don't really have a main goal to the trip (or time limit!) and if the place isn't crowded. She usually has to hold our hand though... only in some places do we let her walk AND do it without any physical connection to us.... but we do do it.
post #3 of 39
In terms of risk, if something is unlikely to result in serious injury, death, or severe pain, we generally let them find their own limits. For example, the wood stove is gated off, but I've let my toddlers handle small candles while supervised. Playing in the driveway is not allowed; jumping off of a rock that's as big as you are onto the grass is fine. And so forth.

I don't let them take stuff off of shelves in the store if I can prevent it, but I don't see that as a safety issue so much as a sanity issue.
post #4 of 39
walking (actually usually running ) and exploring in the grocery store, hardware store etc.
We let our son do this. He loves to run. We follow him pretty closely though.
post #5 of 39
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by treeoflife3 View Post
I let my kiddo do things others wouldn't... but I also DON'T let her do things many would haha

I absolutely do not allow standing in carts, but she definitely stands in the bathtub... in fact, I just went ahead and ended bathtime since she clearly didn't want to sit and play with the toys. She already gets showers now.. started at 16 months old. We just take them together... SO much easier.

We also let her explore, but only when we don't really have a main goal to the trip (or time limit!) and if the place isn't crowded. She usually has to hold our hand though... only in some places do we let her walk AND do it without any physical connection to us.... but we do do it.
She may like showers, we haven't tried that.
post #6 of 39
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by prothyraia View Post

I don't let them take stuff off of shelves in the store if I can prevent it, but I don't see that as a safety issue so much as a sanity issue.
Yes, it does get to be tiring!
post #7 of 39
Tons of things, especially compared to my helicopter neighbor! She won't even let her DS run with sticks or when he's eating a cracker. So not me.


Climb trees
jump off rocks
swimming naked in city creeks
climbing up big ladders & slides on his own
going up the slide
riding bike w/o helmet (not all the time, but I don't want him to be afraid to do it without one either)
riding in bike trailer w/o helmet (it's a frame)
walking along a tall retaining wall
running around market on his own


We're pretty loose with him, but he's a bit older at 3.5.
post #8 of 39
I would not let her stand up in the cart. That's one of my pet peeves when I see parents who let their kids do that.

I also would absolutely not under any circumstances let any of my children ride a bike without a helmet, and wearing it properly too. To me, that's like not wearing a seat belt in the car. I don't want them to be "not afraid to drive without a seatbelt later". I want it to be an absolute and irrevocable habit. Then I will trust them to be intelligent enough that if it were a true emergency (like being chased by an axe murderer?) they wouldn't not bike away just because they didn't have their helmet ready...

It's the law here anyway, and I want my kids to learn to respect the law.

But otherwise, yeah, I'm pretty relaxed. Very influenced by Lenore Skenazy's Free Range Kids blog (and now book), and also Montessori principles -- which are all about letting kids explore without excessive adult interference.

My daughter has been helping me cook since before she was 2 -- and I don't just mean pouring ingredients. I mean at the *stove*. Closely watched, of course, but she's smart enough that she learned very quickly how to be properly careful. Once, around age 2, she accidentally touched the outside wall of the deep fryer with her arm and got a small second degree burn. My in-laws were, I think, kind of concerned that I'd been letting her help with the deep-fryer. But you know what? She wasn't badly hurt (healed up just fine), wasn't going to be hurt worse than that with me right there, and now she knows to be more careful. She's not scared of it either, she just knows to be careful.

A couple of times she's almost brushed the stove top, but quickly noticed and said "whoops, that's hot, I need to be more careful".

We also let her use real glass cups and breakable dishes right from when she started solids. Really, that's how they learn to be careful. When we over protect EVERYTHING and only give them unbreakable everything, they learn that they can bounce around however they want with impunity, with no consequences. So really, it's NOT being irresponsible with her. We're teaching her to figure out how to BE responsible for herself.

(Part of being responsible is wearing a bike helmet, IMO)

post #9 of 39
We're past toddler here, but:
-No to standing in the cart part, cause I don't want it to become a habit since it only takes a second for a kid to take a header.

-Yes to standing in the tub, you stand to take showers so why not?

-No to running in stores - not so much because they might trip and fall, but because they might be a hazard to other people who might not see them - I have nearly run over kids in stores, and not because I'm oblivious, but because they darted out from an aisle in front of a parent chasing them. Also, I've had kids weave in and out around carts and people and I think it's just not safe for anyone involved. A kiddo walking around holding a hand, or holding onto the cart walking next to it, sure - but kids running free in stores is just like kids running free in restaurants; a safety hazard to the other people around as much as to themselves falling.

Taking stuff from shelves isn't dangerous, but it's aggravating for my own sense of sanity so I never let them do it. I can't imagine following them around replacing stuff.

I let my kids run free and be crazy at playgrounds, parks, and other places where one is expected to be free and have fun and play - they climb all over the place, climb up slides if there's nobody coming down, stand on swings, balance on railings, etc. But out shopping in public, or in other non-play-designated-type public places (restaurant, government building, doctor's office, etc.) I expect them to stay with me and behave calmly.
post #10 of 39
I think I fall in the midle, but it totally got in my nerves when my MIL kept telling me the things that MY daughter shouldn't do.
While there were somethings I agree but tried to don't let her know so she doesn't get in my live too much, there were others that just got in my nerves.
Like if she would see my daughter in our wooden coffee table, she will tell her and me:That is a no, no. She actually name her self "Grandma no no"
But my daughter was ok, the table was big and it was on top of carpet, she has fall only once and we (my husband, my older daughter or me) are always around her.
Then it was the no jumping on the bed, my bed is a low bed and again, is on carpet. She did fall 1 or 2 times but she learned and she is very good at not falling.
She also is very good at the swings, I took her to the park since little and she got use to the normal swing. One day all baby swings were all occupied and the only available was the normal one. I sit her there and I sat in the floor and swing her, she was amazing, she never let go and I teach her to say stop when she wants to get off.
We got another swing for home and she got very good, so much that now I take her to the park and she is ok in the big kids swing but I sometimes get mean looks for parents which their kids are older and still in the baby swing.
True is nobody knows my kid the way I do, she may is not good at some stuff but she is great at others, and I am not going to stop her from doing something I know she does well just because others (including my MIL) think they know her best.
Sorry, I think I vent a little, lol.
post #11 of 39
We decided to not put up a baby gate (or just never got around to it) at the top of our stairs, since DS (17 mos) is never unsupervised on the second floor. It used to make me nervous when he ran down the hallway past the staircase, and I'd try to be right there in case he'd try something lunatic like launching himself off the steps. But he has demonstrated over and over now that he will go down them safely, turning around and sliding down on his belly, so I don't hardly worry about that any more.

He is allowed to stand in and walk around in the bathtub, but we still bathe together so no big deal.
post #12 of 39
My kids are older now, but when they were toddlers, I used to let my kids unload the dishwasher and handle the knives and such. People seemed to think that was kind of crazy, apparently.

When my kids were toddlers, I let them navigate the stairs by themselves, even though it sometimes made me nervous to watch.

This might sound odd, but I don't really remember my kids wanting to stand in the back of the cart. I would let them ride sitting down there. And I'd let them hang on the back when they were older, although that would get old within 5 seconds, so it never lasted long.
post #13 of 39
I guess I do this as well because those things barely register on my *dangerous* radar. I thought you were going to say things like jumping off cliffs or something

DS is 18mos.

He can stand in the cart, but only if someone is standing right there.

He can run in the store as long as it's not disrupting anyone and I have the time/energy to chase him.

He can stand in the bathtub, I'm not sure he's taken a bath sitting since he was 8 months old, but again, we are right there (and there's a no-slip thing on the surface).

We have almost no childproofing -- just a gate at the bottom of the stairs (mostly because the upstairs is under construction & a disaster). No cabinet locks, outlet plugs, etc. But I don't allow long strings (like on pull toys -- I always cut off the strings). He helps empty the dishwasher (though I generally take knives out quickly).

He can do anything he wants at the playground but I'm always in arm's reach (he's super clingy & wouldn't have it any other way anyway). He has to wear his helmet on his bike (though more to get in the habit since it's a push bike -- plus he loves it). He has to hold hands in parking lots, and he will be rear-facing 'til he outgrows the seat's limits. And we don't use chemical cleaners etc. (which is one of the reasons we can get away with no cabinet locks).

So although I'm permissive in many ways, I also do things to keep him safe that others IRL would think is nuts (ERF, no vax, co-sleep, etc.) But my mom thinks I'm nuts because of some of the things I let him do.
post #14 of 39
My DS will stand in the cart, but I tell him he must hang on or sit down. I try to grab a toy or something that will occupy his attention. He now likes to push the cart too.

I don't like that my DS wants to run down the aisles, but occassional he does. If it's not crowded I'll just follow behind him otherwise he is in the cart.

DS likes to jump on the sofa. This is something that hasn't really bothered me, but I can see where it is something we need to nip simply because we don't want him to jump on other sofas.

We let DS walk by himself on the sidewalks. I'm always right behind him and I say a thousand times...sidewalk only as he vers toward the street. He actually does pretty good at staying on the sidewalk now, but lots and lots or reminders.

DS doesn't wear a helmet when he is riding his trike...he is usually on it for all of 3 minutes and then on to something else. If he is riding with us on a bike he always wears his helmet.

We let DS go up and down the stairs by himself. In fact, he can go upstairs whenever he wants. I'll hear him tromping around up there and then check on him. Most of the time he has gone to his room to look at books.

We let DS sit in our laps when we drive to the neighborhood pool. When DS was born we lived in the country and so we let him sit on our laps all the time. Now that we've moved to a neighborhood we only let him drive (with us) when we go to the pool.
post #15 of 39
We do a lot of those too. I also let DD play on the big kid playground. There's huge slides (maybe 15-20 feet up) and i get so many dirty looks b/c I let her climb up and go down alone. She also has permission to go on the trampoline at a friend's house which I know would horrify some people (like my mom).
post #16 of 39
We are definitely more permissive than many of the parents we know (but I honestly tend to think that some of them are over-protective). Playing with sticks/dirt/mud - check. Climbing rocks and trees - check. Playing in our unfenced backyard alone - check. Running (on cement!!) - check. We've never gated off our stairs and dd was crawling up and down them ever since she was mobile. I'm sure we've been judged for putting our kids in "danger" but I honestly think all of these things are perfectly normal freedoms every kid should have.
post #17 of 39
We are probably a bit "freer" than many parents around here when it comes to our 2-year-old. We know what she is capable of and we know what would be a pointless battle. Our DD is very active (like most toddlers) and has very little fear. She has had control of her body from a very young age, and so we trust in her ability to push it to her own limits, not what other people think she should and shouldn't be doing.

This mainly comes into play with climbing. She climbs on EVERYTHING. She is quite good at climbing up and down. People at the dance studio my girls attend used to freak out because I would allow her to sit unattended on very tall stools and chairs. She could climb up and down on them fine... why wouldn't I allow her to sit on them? She shouldn't be limited by the capabilities of age-peers, or by the fears of other parents.

But I am extra cautious about other things. I don't leave her with people to be "babysat". I don't allow her to run with pointy objects like pencils, chopsticks, etc. I only allow her to stand in the main part of the cart if my DH is *right* next to her and paying attention (versus looking at cool comic book t-shirts or something. ) In parking lots she must hold someone's hand. Occasionally I will allow her to walk on her own in very small private-ish parking-lots... but at the first sign of misbehavior, she gets picked up and carried (She has a history of running, and I am not physically capable of catching her... so I have to be extra cautious in this respect.)

So I guess my answer would be "other" if this were a poll. LOL. In some circles we are seen as over-protective. We don't trust other people alone with our kids. We take "dangerous" objects from her, as seen fit. We make her ride rear-facing in her carseat. Etc, etc, etc. But on other circles we are seen as far too free (and likely "lazy") by some parents.) We allow our toddler to run all over the park with my DH trailing leisurely behind. We allow her to climb wherever she wishes on the big park equipment. She slides down slides on her own, and often without waiting for someone to catch her. She climbs up on jungle gyms without our assistance or interference.

Does she get hurt? Very rarely, but it does happen. Of course, there are times that she gets injured when we are being fully attentive and such. Accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. We do our best to assess each situation and base our parenting on the factors that we are aware of. Other people may not have the same factors as us, which is why everyone parents their children differently. We allow Aurora to do things that we know she can do. If it sometimes bothers or worries other people, then that is *their* issue and not ours. The dirty looks do get old after awhile, though.
post #18 of 39
In my opinion, it's not only fine but good for kids to get hurt. Not injured, maimed, disfigured, or more than very slightly wounded. Just hurt. It's our job as parents to do our best to make sure that our kids arrive at adulthood intact, and to do our best to see to it that while they are still immature, none of their mistakes will have serious, permanent consequences. Not to make sure they never have an oopsie.

So I think calculated risk is a good term and a good idea in the hands of anyone with the intelligence and experience to use their judgement.

My son is 18 months old today! I let my kid fall off the couch (onto the carpeted, but not exactly soft, floor) and taught him the proper way to get down, which he started doing at about 1 year. Same with stairs - only supervised of course. I stay below him and give him pointers, and when he falls, it's just an abrupt and pride-injuring stumble one step down into mama's shins. (he cries anyway

If he wasn't content sitting in the cart seat with the seatbelt, I'd let him stand up in the cart, because the top of the cart comes to his shoulder. When he gets bigger I'll tell him why he can't stand in the cart anymore, and if he won't sit, he'll have to sit in the seat and get strapped in.
Sticks, rocks, dirt - are every child's birthright IMHO. We played with sticks, rocks, and mud when we were kids, because those toys didn't cost anything.
Bicycle helmets - yes, I think absolutely every child should wear a bicycle helmet until they are an adult and can make a sound judgment for themselves as to whether they should be wearing one or not. (However, I don't think our governments should be making laws about them, but that's a different post)
People see my kid doing something that's probably going to get him somewhat seriously bonked and they say "OH no, your baby is...", and if life and limb aren't imperiled, I generally say "Well, he'll learn not to do that somehow."

If you meet a ten-year-old child who's never had a bad boo-boo, in my experience that is either a child who thinks he's invincible, or a kid who is afraid to do anything for himself.
Let them build their skills and experience, but in an environment where a misstep won't kill them or cripple them for life. That's what I say.
post #19 of 39
In reading these replies, I think it is important to remember that "toddler" spans a wide age range. For example, I would not let my 13-month-old do a lot of these things, but I might when he's two or three. I do let him climb on things, etc more than I think others would, but only within the limits of what he can handle. Generally, I think parents know their own kids best and (hopefully) implement rules based on the capabilities of those kids.
post #20 of 39
I think we each have our own comfort level with risky behavior. I know that certain things that are important to me are non-issues for some of my friends & wouldn't even be on their radar of dangerous activity and there are other things that are important to them that I don't even think about. In fact, even DH & I have different comfort levels--he's much more cautious in terms of wanting to always have line of sight supervision at home and when we're at parks and playgrounds, he follows DS pretty closely. On the other hand, I let DS roam on playgrounds unless he calls for me and I let him play in a different room than the one I'm in if he wants to. But I'm super paranoid about water safety and I pretty much always have a hand on DS when we're at the pool, even in the wading pool (this is partly because he's been known to just lie down in the water and then not be sure how to stand back up and it freaks. me. out.). DH is far more at ease in the water and he lets DS explore more, lets him get slightly farther away, etc when we're at the pool.
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