Is your toddler a daredevil?

Our child psychologist explains why your little one has no fear and takes so many risks

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Your toddler will forget the pain of previous accidents as he gets caught up in the excitement of trying something new

To toddlers, the world is one big adventure playground. Now he’s learned to walk and what his arms and legs do, your little one will want to explore. And in his mind there are no limits, and little sense of danger. He doesn’t waste his time worrying about tripping or falling and hurting himself. He sees a tree, swing, pond or new outdoor toy and thinks, “That looks like fun… here I come!”

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He thinks he’s invincible

It’s little surprise, then, that hospital statistics confirm that toddlers have a high accident rate. Of course, your little daredevil knows that people get hurt, and what it feels like when he falls or bumps his head. But no matter how much you warn him, he’ll take risks because once he’s forgotten the pain of hurting himself, his mind will revert back to thinking he’s invincible.

For instance, you might expect him to be afraid of climbing on top of high objects if he slipped and banged his head last week while standing up on a chair. Yet that incident easily slips his mind, making him happy to repeat the experience the next time round.

Heart vs head

Like most 2-year-olds, your toddler’s judgement is affected by his emotions. That’s why even an apparently sensible and cautious young child can become a daredevil when he gets too excited.
        
For instance, if he sees his friend on the opposite pavement, he may rush across the road to meet him, oblivious to the approaching traffic that separates them.

Likewise, when he sees another child doing something adventurous, he’ll want to try it too. The adrenaline rush he gets when he sees his pal reduces his awareness of the possible dangers.

Just like when we do something without thinking, it’s sometimes simply a case of what he wants to do overriding what he knows is safe or the better option.

Try this…

Daredevil toddlers learn to curb their risk-taking behaviour more quickly when they are shown praise for being cautious, rather than told off for being reckless. But without boundaries, it’s hard for them to judge what’s acceptable and what’s not.

Next time you’re out somewhere, make sure he knows the perimeters of where he can go are, such as ‘to that big tree and no further’ – that way he’ll feel free to explore, but know he’s where you want him to be.

Ways to control your daredevil:

  • Make it positive. Saying what he can do and where he can go is better than saying what he can’t.
  • Offer safety. If your toddler doesn’t have a safe play area, then he has no choice but to put himself at risk in order to achieve adventure and excitement.
  • Don’t overdo the warnings. If you talk about danger all the time, he’ll become afraid to try anything new.
  • Organised activities, such as swimming or acrobatics, stretch his abilities in a safe and secure environment, while still under adult supervision.
  • Play your part. If you want him to be calm and think about danger, you need to as well. He’ll want to jump, run or play where you do.

Read more…

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