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I have a 16-month-od boy. He loves climbing up on anything that's higher than the floor. He gradually climbs up chairs and uses them to climb on the dinner desk. I tried to remove the chairs from the kitchen, but he drags the chairs out again for climbing up. He even tries to climb the corners of taller furniture while staying on his feet. I think it is dangerous, especially when he is playing on the corner of the desk or furniture.

How can I teach him to be careful about falling?

  • Spank him! Tried and true. (I'm a father of five well-loved children) – Eric Wilson Feb 8 '15 at 13:07
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My son is a little bit older, but he's been a climber before he could walk. We deal with this almost daily.

I looked for some methods online, myself, back when his climbing first started. We tried several things, some of them were "common sense" attempts, and some were suggestions from parenting sites or forums.

Here's what's worked:

  • Going to him and physically putting him back on the floor any time he tries to climb
  • Distraction/redirection
  • "Counting" his climbing. If we get to 3 he gets a timeout.
  • Asking him not to climb (this has only worked since he's gotten older and understands the language)
  • Putting up a playpen fence around the things he liked to climb on
  • Letting him climb with direct supervision and on a limited number of items. He learned that some things are okay to climb on, but others (like desk and table tops) are not. Now, he's very adept at getting up into chairs/seats on his own, which affords him some independence which I believe he enjoys.

Here's what hasn't worked:

  • Letting him fall. Our son does not learn to stop a behavior completely because of an accident. Instead, he learns that he has to try harder and maybe next time he won't get hurt. While this is an admirable trait when your children are older (get back on the horse, as they say), it's frustrating when they're smaller. He still does stuff where he might fall/jam his fingers/pull heavy things onto his head or feet/knock things over.
  • Removing climbable objects. Like your son, he'd find or drag in other things to climb on, and so we, the parents, were more inconvenienced by not having our normal furniture in the room than we were by getting up every X minutes to put him back on the floor.

I'll add that just because the first methods worked for us (to varying degrees), doesn't mean they're guaranteed to work for you. Likewise, just because some methods didn't work for us, doesn't mean they won't work for you.

In fact, others here have already indicated that the method(s) that didn't work for my family did work for theirs.

  • I want to +1 you for make the changes to appropriate English and your what's worked section, but I'm conflicted with your hasn't worked section. Conflicted b/c obviously it hasn't worked for you and yet it has for so many others. I refuse to -1 simply because it worked for me... you didn't assert it would work for all. :) – Sylas Seabrook Jan 16 '15 at 6:09
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    +1 for "letting him climb"... obviously, not the table, but SOMEthing. Perhaps something that can be permitted to climb can even be put somewhere in the house, if space allows. – Layna Jan 16 '15 at 10:21
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    @JeremyMiller I added a "Your results may vary" disclaimer. I felt inclined to list all the methods I'm familiar with, and looked up myself when this started, but I couldn't fully endorse methods that didn't work for me particularly. – user11394 Jan 16 '15 at 16:17
  • Fair enough. I guess by saying it here, you've done just that. +1 – Sylas Seabrook Jan 16 '15 at 16:58
  • My son is very little then I prefer Removing climbable objects and monitor him when try to climb up to not removable objects. +1 for your multiple selections. – Huseyin Jan 16 '15 at 21:32
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Well, there are a couple of options.

  1. Redirection

Any time you see him begin to climb where he shouldn't be, point him toward something more constructive. "No, don't climb on chairs, they wobble" And show him that they aren't stable. Maybe have him climb on the couch instead of a chair or table (where there's at least a cushion.)

  1. This one may get me down-voted, but it worked for me (and my kids). Let him fall.

I'm the kind of guy who has to learn lessons the hard way. And sometimes my daughter has to learn the hard way too. I've tried to tell her that she can hurt herself by jumping on the couch or bed. She broke her elbow by landing funny on the bed. And she almost broke the couch by jumping and playing around on the arm of it. Sometimes they have to learn the hard way.

I'm not saying that you should watch him climb up onto something, say nothing, and watch him fall and hurt himself. Take every moment as a parenting moment. Protect and teach your children at every opportunity.

  • I believe you implicitly mean that they can experience the pain of poor choices and it is ok to let them provided there is no obvious serious danger to the action. For instance, had the likelihood of breaking a bone been obvious, you'd have acted differently -- bouncing on a bed, though, is more likely to result in falling off and smacking your head. I've done the same with my daughter -- warn her and then let her experience it herself, so long as it wasn't too dangerous (e.g. playing in the middle of the highway). – Sylas Seabrook Jan 15 '15 at 23:47
  • @Jeremy exactly! – Brian Robbins Jan 16 '15 at 0:28
  • My son is so little then he could not understand dangers and letting him to climb my be right method but is very risky now. +1 for your approach and letting childes to examine any things. – Huseyin Jan 16 '15 at 21:27
  • I realized as I was putting it out there that 16 months might be too young. But thanks for the comment! – Brian Robbins Jan 16 '15 at 21:34

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