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Parents Corner

Upward Bound

Karen Miles
Parenting Magazine, Feb. 2001

Soon after your child masters the art of toddling, she’ll want to rise to new heights by climbing everything in sight: The stairs, a coffee table, or whatever she can scramble up is fair game. It can be unnerving for parents because a child this age doesn’t realize how high she’s going or that she can fall, says Neil Herendeen, M.D., director of pediatric practice at the University of Rochester Children’s Hospital. Plus, she’ll probably assume that wherever she winds up, Mom or Dad will get her down..

But that doesn’t mean you should try to keep your toddler grounded: as she perfects her climbing skills, she develops dexterity, muscle strength, and a sense of balance. Some safe ways to help her practice:

Provide a step stool. The stepping surface should be wide enough for her whole foot so that the stool won’t topple over.

Let her climb the slide at the playground. Just make sure you’ll be able to reach her when she gets to the top!

Dust off that old aerobic-work-out step under your bed and let her put it to good use. Place a wide plank securely on a slant-from the floor to a stable toy chest, for example.

Give her something to step into. Many tots enjoy moving their feet into and out of things as much as traveling upward. Set out a carton, a dishpan, or maybe an empty inflatable swimming pool. Put something enticing in it-like a small ball and let her step in and out of her heart’s content.

Other useful resources

Drew Bledsoe of the New England Patriots has established the Drew Bledsoe Foundation Parenting With Dignity program. Bledsoe says of his success "my parents helped me the most to be what I am today" and his goal is to help other parents give their children the best possible start. For more information, see http://www.drewbledsoe.com/.

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Last modified: January 26, 2013