What to Do When Your Toddler Reaches for Something Unsafe
Nothing makes you notice all the tiny, hidden dangers in the world quite like becoming a parent.
Where others see an adorable table lamp, you see a child-sized weapon of mass destruction. The innocent,
and v. v. cute belt you bought? Somehow it’s become a lasso, and you may need to invest in eye protection for
everyone. And the outlets in every room? You didn’t realize they were installed with a magnet sensed only by
your toddler’s fingers, did you?
(Seriously, though: Did urgent care start issuing punch cards or something?)
Well, if you’ve taken our online course,
Winning the Toddler Stage, you know toddlers’ brains are hard-wired
for curiosity. They learn by exploring: touching stuff, climbing stuff, picking up stuff, and OMG LICKING and
EATING stuff. It’s horrifying and sometimes dangerous, but it’s totes normal.
Our job as parents is to ﬁgure out how we can help our kids discover the world safely. Like, WITHOUT
getting on a first-name basis with the ER triage team.
Since wrapping your sweet babe in bubble wrap is not an option (but points for creativity), we’re here to
recommend a few practical ways to address unsafe things without losing your mind.
Create a “Yes Space”
One of the best things you can do for your toddler and for your sanity is to create a Yes Space somewhere in
This space is free of “Danger, Will Robinson,” and allows your child to play safely while you relax. In other
words? It’s a gift from the gods for both you and your toddler.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. A Yes Space sounds amazeballs, but what do you do when you go to the
grandparents’ house or to Target or to the park? Those places can be fraught with unsafe perils.
Keep reading. We got you.
Staying Calm is the Key, Always
When you see your child heading down the highway to the danger zone—reaching for a cord or outlet, putting
something in their mouths they absolutely shouldn’t, and so on—you’re gonna want to shout, scream, or
otherwise make the situation a Very Big Deal™.
Don’t do that.
We know you’re worried about their safety and you’re trying to stop the unsafe behavior as it unfolds before
you in slow-motion. But you've gotta resist the urge to freak out, and instead be cool and calm.
Here’s why: Toddlers crave attention. Absolutely lap it up. But their brains aren’t developed enough to
distinguish between the kind of attention they’re getting—negative or positive. So whatever you give attention
to with your reactions, is what they’re going to continue to do.
If you absolutely freak out when they reach for the cord, they’re going to keep reaching for the cord. Their
brain says, “Oooooo! Reaching for the cord means mommy gives me looooootttts of attention. If I keep
reaching for it, I’ll keep getting attention. And I loooooove attention!”
As much as we don’t want them to reach for unsafe things, we reaaaaaaaally don’t want them to keep doing it
over and over and over again to get our attention.
Address and Reduce Unsafe Behavior in Three Simple Steps
Okay, you’ve got your game face on, so now it’s time to implement the game plan. Warrior parents, mount up!
Our best-selling online course,
Winning the Toddler Stage, walks you through, step by step, exactly how to
handle unsafe behaviors in the moment AND how to start seeing less of them in the future:
Step 1:Acknowledge the BehaviorStep 2:Put Up the BoundaryStep 3:Shift to the Yes
This is Hard. You Can Do It.
This parenting game is hard, y’all. And just when you’ve conquered one issue, a new one pops up, leaving you
wondering where on earth the REAL grown-ups are… and if they could please come teach your kid that
putting the iPad away is actually NOT the end of the world.
Our online course,
Winning the Toddler Stage, helps you navigate ALL the plot twists of living with a 1- to
6-year-old and teaches you proven, easy-to-implement strategies, so you can move from simply surviving to