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Well, I saw this question but I have exact opposite problem with my 2 year old daughter, she doesn't fear from her actions that will hurt her. She is not afraid to do anything that is dangerous or risky, although she mostly stops doing things if we tell her that it will hurt her, but without us looking over her action she usually does it.

She would jump off from height, grabs stranger dogs, catches insects and fights older children. This is becoming more of a concern that she would hurt badly when things get really wrong. But she is very protective over other kids and has a very kind heart that she wouldn't hesitate to share anything with others, even her favorite toys. She is just so brave in her action.

Is it a good thing or bad thing?

  • I recommend changing "fearful" to something else. "Fearful" sounds like it has a meaning of "afraid of everything". I doubt that is nice. – Tolga Ozses Apr 7 '15 at 21:38
  • I'm not sure what else I should call it. Fearful doesn't mean afraid of everything to me. Looked up on dictionary: fearful |ˈfi(ə)rfəl| adjective 1 feeling afraid; showing fear or anxiety: bond traders have remained fearful of inflation | [ with clause ] : the mothers were fearful that their daughters would marry and move abroad. What would you call it? – Nomadme Apr 7 '15 at 21:43
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    Hmm, I see where you're coming from, but also think "fearful" isn't entirely accurate. Perhaps "cautious"? The importance of the wording may be of more interest on English Language & Usage though ;) – Acire Apr 7 '15 at 21:51
  • Simply "afraid"; I stand by my comment that it sounds like "full of fear" – Tolga Ozses Apr 7 '15 at 21:52
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    I asked this question on English Language & Usage :) – Tolga Ozses Apr 7 '15 at 21:58
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I think your daughter is pretty similar to my two guys. They're both somewhat limited in their 'fear' reflex, at least for most things (my older one is pretty clingy when he thinks we're going to leave him somewhere).

There are basically two sides of this. On the one hand, being willing to try new things and do all sorts of physical activities is great. On the other hand, not jumping from unsafe heights would be nice, too.

What we did with our boys is:

  1. Talk to them about why certain things are dangerous. Walking on the street is dangerous because of cars. Jumping from tall buildings is dangerous because of broken limbs. Etc.
  2. Gave them guidelines for avoiding dangerous situations. They have to hold our hands while crossing a street. They should stop before an alley or driveway (or street) and wait for us to catch up. Certain playground things are for up-only (like some ladders that are hard to safely go down).
  3. Carefully monitored them and reinforced the guidelines, and the reasons, until we were confident they understood them.

My three and a half year old I'm entirely confident walking down a busy street's sidewalk without holding onto him, regardless of his mood. He is very careful (but adventurous) on the playground sets. He tells me when other kids do things they shouldn't. He understands, internally, why it's not safe to do these things.

Now, is he perfect? Will he never ever make a mistake? No. But he understands why he should be careful, and almost always is - and I'm there to make sure nothing dangerous can happen if he does forget.

Ultimately, teaching your child why, not what, is the best thing you can do for them. Teach them what, you know what they'll do when you're there. Teach them why, you know what they'll do when you're not.

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    I agree with the why not what. The thing that works with our little boy, of a similar age, is if you've had to shout "stop" you pick him up and tell him that something would hurt or is delicate or whatever. That seems much better than telling him what to do / not to do. Our boy is just two and is just learning careful, saying things like "tree, careful" and you say "it's good that you're careful, but trees can stand up for themselves", "careful flowers", "yes that's right, cos flowers are delicate", "careful mushrooms", "yes that's right, they're yucky". You can almost see the cogs going. – Dan Sheppard Apr 7 '15 at 23:00
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One of my daughters was like this. Still is, in new situations. My other daughter very carefully calculates her risks before taking them, but then proceeds fearlessly, and sometimes doesn't realize she has miscalculated. Usually kids just grow out of it with experience.

This might sound strange, but the most effective way I've found for them to learn to be more cautious is to let them get hurt when it's relatively safe to do so. Of course not life-threatening, bone-breaking, scarred-for-life kind of hurt, but minor-bumps-and-scrapes kind of hurt. Kids learn to be careful on the big things by making mistakes on the little things. That's how they learn to see safety as a consequence of their own actions, rather than some imaginary danger their parents are always irrationally going on about.

You can't just neglect the verbal teaching part, though. You want her brain making connections like, "My parents said to be careful jumping down, but I didn't listen and I got hurt. I should be careful crossing the street like they said too."

  • +1 to let them get hurt when it's safe to do so. Definitely a good way for kids to learn caution. – Joe Apr 8 '15 at 22:04

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