Apologies, laelsweet, that your post got lost in the thread!
"beautiful + poisonous
a parent and toddler go out for a walk and see some gorgeous red berries which the parent has been taught are poisonous (but is vague about just how toxic, if one must eat many to get sick, etc. and has never tasted them hirself) "
Oh! I remember wanting to pick those berries my whole childhood, and been warned off them, and to this day I too do not know the details, either, though I have an ureasonable fear of them!
They are terribly attractive, arent' they.
"toddler really wants these berries and this conflict degrades into a bit of a tussle in order to get berries out of very fast toddlers hands. given that there was little time to talk about different kinds of berries, and the make-you-ill faces and sounds parent was making were having little effect, "
Getting down on their level and talking to them might help? 'Do you want to get sick? I've been told that these berries make people sick.'
"parent needed to do some apologizing about grabbing and arguing. better ways to handle something like this?"
In general, in situations like this, a parent has to do some quick thinking about the risks and how to avoid them, while figuring out exactly what the child wants. We can be fairly certain that children do not want to hurt their selves, be it potential poisoning or being flattened by a motor vehicle or falling from a cliff etc. They might want to pick the berries in a make believe game of gathering food for their family; they might want to walk along a busy street or the edge of a cliff; how can a parent help their child get what they want out of the experience, without being hurt?
Possibly finding an alternative use for the gorgeous berries, if people eating them can get very sick, but birds can eat them to live... like, squishing them and drawing with the juice on the sidewalk or rocks, maybe using a stick or rocks to work the berries (like grinding grain between two rocks), or making piles of them for the birds to come and get, or throwing them on the ground with enough force to make them splat. Pretending to be gathering them to eat might be sufficient, maybe gather some to take home to feed to dolly at tea time. ( carrying some handywipes in a pocket can come in handy for these situations! for those with amazing foresight
)maybe stop at the store on the way and buy some edible berries.
If parent is not comfortable messing with the berries at all, not knowing if their information is good about the berries being poison, and their chosen course in the moment is to prevent interaction with the berries with apologies for the coercion involved, they might want to follow up with research to find out exactly what the risks are about those berries and share that info with their child at a receptive time- maybe a website with a picture of the berries, and pointing to the words that tell about the poison, and a visit to the local plant nursery with a picture of the plant or a sprig of it for identification and assessment of the danger. Maybe the sprig could be plucked from the bush and the walk continued to the local plant nursery, if nearby.
If the concept of poison has not been explored yet, parent could do so now. A dramatic dying scene might hold a toddler's attention and get the point across. If nothing else, the situation would draw the parent's attention to a subject that they can help their child learn about as soon as possible, at receptive times.
Hope this helps!