The issue of toddlers climbing showed up on Bubblews, and the author of the post invited others to share their own thoughts/experiences on how they are dealing with/did deal with their own child's climbing as a toddler. The following "thoughts on the matter" are my own, personal, thoughts and approach with my own children (who are now grown).

All babies around a year old ("plus or minus", as they say) go through a climbing stage - some more than others, some because they're more active in general and/or some because they have more opportunity (as opposed to, say, one who has fewer things around that provide climbing opportunities). A child this age is too young to think about "disciplining" on this matter, because it's just part of a developmental stage. Of course, remove the stuff that's a big invitation to climb and that involves having more opportunities for her to climb and get hurt. Other than that, though, you just have to be ready to take her off stuff, say "no no" if she, say, climbs on the table; and keep doing that until she either notices that she's stopped when she climbs on something or else just outgrows that stage (because she'll get past it not only because climbing won't be a fairly new skill and be interesting and fun, but because she'll gradually become more socially mature and skilled at language. Also, her interests will become more "sophisticated".

Assuming someone doesn't just sit back and consider climbing up into window sills, on tables and counter-tops "fine"; the process of outgrowing the climbing stage happens gradually, and it happens as a number of different things go on as far as development and general interactions go. Not only does the toddler get used to having learned how to climb and get up to investigate yet a whole other set of "interesting things" (and views), but as cognitive and social development - little by little - continue to progress (and as climbing up on the same old furniture gets old), toddlers just find a lot of other things and activities that are more interesting and fun to them.

But, when they're in the climbing stage it's a kind of "pick-your-battles" situation, combined with a "temporarily-make-adjustments" situation. A child that little is too young to remember too many "rules of the house" or "rules for being socially acceptable", so parents need to focus only on the climbing that's the most unacceptable and/or dangerous.

A child that age will climb not only on Grandma's white couch, but up on the back of it. If the couch is against a wall, and the real problem is climbing with shoes on; someone either needs to cover the couch or else let the child go without shoes if he's going to be in Grandma's living room. Nobody has to worry that the child will "become a thirty-year-old who climbs on the backs of white couches with his shoes on." Why? Because in a few more months that child will have the verbal skills to understand when someone tells him, "We don't climb on couches with shoes on because it will make the couch dirty."

On the other hand, when it comes to climbing up on the dining-room table or pulling over a chair and climbing up and standing on the kitchen counter, that's one of those "battles" that require consistent and patient taking the child down, saying "no no" or something like "no, no - We don't want you to fall and get hurt." is the way to send the message that there's a problem with climbing on that particular thing. A one-year-old may not, of course, understand, "You might fall and get hurt," but he'll appreciate the attempt to politely explain (rather than get in a power struggle) AND, keep in mind, that babies understand more than we think they can (and if they don't completely understand, using some simple words can still go toward building their verbal skills in a number of ways

The fact is, it may seem as if the one-year-old (of fourteen-month old) just isn't ever going to get the message about, say, climbing on the table (so it makes sense, too, not to have a table-cloth, which can increase potential hazards, on the table during this time). Still, though, if you think about it and imagine being a "clueless one-year-old" (who, without ever having anyone interrupt some activities would pretty much go around like the Energizer-Bunny-Gone-A-Little-Berserk at times) who goes around doing all kinds of investigating, learning, being active, etc. and who is never interrupted, that child will have nothing and nobody cause him to temporarily pause whatever he was doing and (even if he doesn't understand why someone has stopped him, or keeps stopping him) and at least wonder to himself "Why did that happen?" or "Why does that keep happening when I do this?"

We don't want to stop babies and children from being active and doing all the things that will help them learn skills and generally have healthy development in a number of ways; but then again, aside from the "getting-hurt factor", getting the matter of a certain level of "socially acceptable" behavior out of the way at that time when something like climbing on everything is just a stage is better than just allowing a child to "run wild" and get to be a three-year-old with the social skills of a one-year-old. So, while nobody really has to worry that a child will be that thirty-year-old who stands on the kitchen counter tops (because the child will eventually learn from the outside world and/or he'll eventually figure it out for himself), the concern that a child will get to pre-school and/or kindergarten age without ever having learned a very basic level of "socially acceptable behavior" can be a very real concern.

So, parents need to find that balance of realizing that climbing is a stage that doesn't take all that long to be outgrown, that it's one that does require a certain amount of "accommodating" and/or "adjusting", but that it's also one that can't always be ignored out of the realization that the stage will pass.

One way or another, when a child is still only a year or so old, the reality is that it is tiring for parents; and it does pretty much require making sure that some adult is always nearby and ready to address whatever potential "pickle" or potential problem arises as a result of the activity level and immature social and cognitive skills of a child that young. In other words, until a toddler learns otherwise and develops understanding and self-control, sometimes a parent just needs to be that child's "self-control" for him ( and i see the inappropriateness of the term I just used, but you get the idea).

There are people who believe that "swatting" a diapered-toddler is "the only way" to stop a toddler who seems committed to, say, climbing on a table or up on some window sills. I'm not one of them. They believe that a swat is better than the child's being hurt, and if he doesn't learn from repeated "no-no's" and being taken away from the "scene of the crime" he "has to learn some way". Some will say it doesn't really hurt the child anyway, to which I'd say, "Then what's the point of that approach?". Also, however, something to consider is that a clueless toddler who doesn't see or understand that what's doing is "wrong" isn't likely to understand why - every once in awhile, when he's just "doing his thing" and "being him" - a trusted adult suddenly hits him. AND, if the parent chooses to hit the child's hand "in order to make sure it does hurt, at least a little", a clueless toddler who doesn't understand the concept of "house rules" or "maybe getting hurt if he falls" is going to wonder why that trusted adult just "willy-nilly" hurts him every once in awhile.

Digressing for moment: My daughter was around a year old when we had a real-estate agent at the house. She was a little older than I, so her children were school-aged. My daughter was in her non-stop-motion stage, and the real-estate woman laughed and said, "I remember those days. You basically just walk around like this all the time until they grown out of it." With that, she started walking through the kitchen, hunched over and with her two hands extended, as if she were ready to pick up an errant toddler without notice. She'd been through that stage with her own children (four times, I think), and I was on my third. Suddenly, it became so clear that this slightly older business-woman and mother of older kids and I (only doing part-time freelance writing and the mother of much younger children) had more in common that we otherwise might have assumed.

While it may feel like it will last forever, the climbing stage (as with all the other stages between birth and beyond) really doesn't last that long No doubt, it's tiring and challenging for a parent. No doubt, it isn't something that can "just be ignored and waited out". Then again, however, it's not the time to worry about teaching better and/of safer behavior, because by picking those most important battles, making a few adjustments, and - yes - waiting it out, this particular stage does tend to be outgrown fairly consistently among "The Toddler Set".

Image: ME Whelan