We live in a world of electrical outlets, sharp corners, and non-padded floors…….
and that is the world we teach our children to navigate safely.
We all want our children to be safe. And we all want to provide our children with environments where they can be their most successful selves. To the endeavor, it is important for each parent to keep in mind the unique qualities their individual child. We all have to do what we are comfortable with and work within our own capabilities.
Still, what if we were able to let go of some of our unwarranted fears….
A common theme in the parenting community to “keep children out of trouble” is to redirect them. There are worse approaches to keeping children safe for sure, and these children will not suffer from redirection and growing up in baby proofed homes in any traditional sense. But we want to challenge our traditional ideas of what it means to keep children safe.
Have we thought about the message this sends to our children?
Could it possibly dampen some of the innate curiosity and exploratory nature?
What would happen if we chose to embrace their curiosities and explorations within our daily activities of living (dishes, laundry, sweeping, playing, following their lead, etc.)?
“Yes, you can touch that glass vase with me.
Here’s how you can explore it safely.”
“Yes, you can explore the cleaning supplies under the sink with me.
Here’s how you can explore it safely.”
What would it be like to create the time to satisfy these curious explorations early in their lives so everyone can reap the benefits sooner rather than later? What if we embraced all of their developmentally appropriate behaviors while guiding them on safety?
“Yes you can throw the sand.
Throw it away from the people.”
“Yes you can dump your toys.
Here’s a basket to dump them into.”
There are HUGE benefits that come from allowing our children to explore their environments with our loving guidance.
“I have multiple children, so this is just not doable in our home.”
Imagine having so much trust in your oldest child (age 3) that together you and he can focus on guiding the younger child. That is safety, empowerment, deep scaffolding learning, and family connection.
“My toddler runs into the street.”
Have you ever noticed that when we restrict access to something, it becomes even more alluring to our children? Playing in the street is fun. When children want to do something we see as dangerous try to put away some time every day to do that “dangerous” activity together in safe ways. What does this look like? Go into the street with your children, talk about safety, talk about being aware of cars, and when a car comes – get into the grass and explain why. Sometimes the more of an issue we make of something, the more of an issue it becomes.
What does a baby proof FREE home look like and how does it work?
When we choose to leave our outlets uncovered and our cabinets unlocked we are creating a sense of trust in our homes. We’re not suggesting it’s wrong to choose to cover and lock things. We’re simply pointing out an alternative. A home free of restraints diffuses the need for restraints. Guiding our children to navigate these baby proof free homes is time consuming, but otherwise simple. Follow their lead and explore WITH them.
“You would like to hold that vase? You need to use two hands.
Its ceramic and it can break, so be very gentle.
It’s smooth….its blue….ah, you see the hole.
When you are all done it goes back here.”
“You’d like to explore the chemicals?
These are very dangerous and can make you sick.
Make sure it’s pointed away from you.
Would you like to spray it?”
Choosing not to babyproof your home is an intentional decision and commitment to guide your child every day throughout the day. It is a choice to step just beyond fear and into a role of guiding a child toward empowerment and trust. And while this may not be the right choice for every parent and child, it can be a beautiful, connecting choice for others.