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If you're concerned act early! - Elizabeth Unexplained
Lots of data but no answers
If you're concerned act early!
I despise most parenting books and therefore have not been checking milestones of what Margaret ought to be able to do on a month-by-month basis. Warren recently looked some up because he was curious after her 18 month check-up, and yesterday when she built a tower that was ten blocks tall we looked at them again. The results were…. interesting.

Not only does Margaret already have all of the two year milestones, she’s also made heavy inroads into the three year milestones. This is not exactly surprising to us. It may not be very PC to say so, but we expected her to be smart. On the other hand, looking at the list causes me a certain amount of concern…

Many of the milestones are innocuous enough. Margaret’s correct use of certain plurals (shoe/shoes, puppy/puppies), her ability to follow two and three part commands (when it suits her), and her ten block tower are milestones I’m more than happy to accept and brag about. Some of the other milestones I have much more mixed feelings about. For example, “turns rotating handles” is a tad problematic. In theory Margaret knows how to use doorknobs, and her increasing height is making it easier and easier for her to do it in practice. In fact, I have a sinking suspicion that the only thing keeping her in the bathroom with me while I take my morning shower is the fact that our house is nearly a century old and that particular doorknob has been known to thwart college educated adults. She’s also too close for comfort on the “screws and unscrews jars lids, nuts and bolts” milestone. Sure, at some point she is going to have to open jars for herself, but I’m not excited about the prospect of her being able to open every jar in the pantry at nineteen months.

The CDC site has an area that says “If you’re concerned act early,” and all sorts of links to resources if you’re worried that your child has a delay. Alas, there is no little area labeled “OMG, she may destroy us all,” with handy hints on how to keep a toddler with many of the skills of a three-year-old from wreaking havoc long enough to teach her about the potential consequences of her action. Yeah, yeah, I know there are many folks out there who would much prefer to be in my shoes, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be nerve wracking. I imagine that most of my friends with small children have similar issues, so if you have tips on how to keep an 18-month-old who understands what a step ladder is for and isn’t afraid to use it from burning the house down, do please pass them on. I am lucky in that Margaret is a very sweet girl who wants to be helpful, she’s just extremely curious and resourceful and not aware of many potential consequences to exploring certain things in her environment.

(I wrote this post at work during lunch, before I'd read today's Salsa in China post which is in a similar vein. My concerns are less climbing specific, but the basic idea is the same -- I have a baby who is perfectly capable of thwarting my puny child-proofing efforts.)
18 comments or Leave a comment
remcat From: remcat Date: January 12th, 2010 04:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Personally, I gave up on the idea of "child-proofing" when I caught Seth (at 10 months old, before he was walking) climb OVER the baby gates to go up the (steep, wooden) stairs in our old house. Instead, we had to rely on a combination of "rules" and "supervision" :). (Not too terribly popular with the purveyors of baby protection devices.) 18 months is probably the worst age for this, but soon enough Margaret will be able to understand basic rules and (mostly) follow them. Hang in there!
From: llennhoff Date: January 12th, 2010 01:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I keep childproofing my house, but they keep getting in".
psychohist From: psychohist Date: January 12th, 2010 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
We also use the close supervision method, but Margaret is actually pretty good about safety habits. She stays away from the tops of the stairs now, probably because of repeated warnings and one small fall from ignoring those warnings. Our biggest worry has to do with new situations, where she doesn't know about the dangers yet.
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: January 12th, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
From watching my niece and nephew grow through these stages, it looks to me like the way to go is to just stuff them full of data and not expect them to generalize reliably. Just go through the house talking about everything you see, and predicting various ways it could hurt her. When my niece and nephew were her age, nothing pleased them more than being able to demonstrate that they understood facts about their environment.

Not a very satisfying answer to the "new situation" problem -- I'm basically saying to catalog all possible situations and tell her what's up in each one.
jaedian From: jaedian Date: January 12th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hate to say it, but sometimes a minor failure does more to help them learn than anything. Falling down a few steps is a great learning tool. The trick of course is to let them learn without getting hurt.

I usually let them get "lost" in a store once. Mine are never quiet anyway, so I know where they are, but not knowing where mom is, well it is a learning experience beyond anything I could explain.
jaedian From: jaedian Date: January 12th, 2010 04:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
My mom informs me that when I was growing up, there was no such thing as baby protection devices. You used rules and common sense. And most kids (and parents too) survived this.
From: llennhoff Date: January 12th, 2010 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
May I metaquote:

The CDC site has an area that says “If you’re concerned act early,” and all sorts of links to resources if you’re worried that your child has a delay. Alas, there is no little area labeled “OMG, she may destroy us all,” with handy hints on how to keep a toddler with many of the skills of a three-year-old from wreaking havoc long enough to teach her about the potential consequences of her action
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: January 12th, 2010 01:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Do you mean you wish to quote that elsewhere? If so, sure.
From: llennhoff Date: January 12th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I want to be really clear about this, since I know y'all value your privacy. metaquotes is an lj community designed to share amusing things said on live journal. If I post it there, by the community rules it has to include a link back to this post. (You can make the post friends-only if you wish and I can still metaquote it as long as I have your permission - in theory public posts may be freely metaquoted although I always ask first).

From: llennhoff Date: January 12th, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
You've been metaquoted!
gryphon2k From: gryphon2k Date: January 12th, 2010 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, it gets even more interesting when you have a toddler who excels in some areas and lags drastically an others. I'm speaking, of course, of B, who because of his advanced intellect, was very difficult to diagnose with Asperger's. He was in a neurological study during his first heart surgery to look at different ways to protect the brain while on bypass, and he had a follow up a year later when he was 15 months or so. One of the tasks was to put little cubes into a cup. B put in 1, 2, 3, paused, during which the neurologist said "That's an age appropriate number," and then when B continued to put cubes in the cup until he was balancing them above the top of the cup trying to get them all to fit, the doc just said "Oh...."

So yeah, toddler proofing was always...interesting at our house. And did lead to some heart stopping moments, like when E managed to get a knife out of the knife block (which I would have sworn was well out of his reach) and decided to try to cut my hair with it!
phoenixtoashes From: phoenixtoashes Date: January 12th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
That tends to be one of the major problems for us Aspies. We're usually intelligent enough that the other neurological quirks tend to get overlooked as "eccentricities," if we don't get caught before we get to be school-aged.

And once we are school-aged, it can be harder to catch us. Especially for girls. (I'm firmly of the belief that the ratio of actual Aspie girls to boys is a lot closer to equal than the diagnosed numbers suggest; we tend to be a lot better at mimicking the behaviour of our peers so that it looks like we're neurotypical - which just means that we don't get diagnosed as soon.)
phoenixtoashes From: phoenixtoashes Date: January 12th, 2010 04:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, meant to add before I clicked 'post' - I followed the link from Metaquotes.
jaedian From: jaedian Date: January 12th, 2010 03:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Juliette may be the worst of the bunch. Nothing like seeing an older child do something (rather than an adult) to make you think you can do it. Treptoplax always said "she thinks she is 6 and we are just being mean to her because she is small"

The one think I liked about Somerville is the doors all stuck. You needed to be a strong adult to open them. Once we moved here we could never keep anybpdy out of any room. We did resort to locking a few doors, but they are a pain to open. And when I put a deadbolt on the front door, we had a key lock on the inside as well as the outside, because at least then we can hide the key. No-one has left and gone to the park (across a busy street) yet, but it wouldn't surprise me. Juliette can open the door with key just fine. And I have gotten out of the shower to find UPS boxes in the house more than once. Eek.

I will say that childproofing worked best if you proofed something before they go into it. If you are lucky then they will just lose interest. Once they get in, even adding the childproofing doesn't work, as they will just devote lots of time to circumventing it. And if they see something good in that place (like the VCR or something else fun) they may go after it just the same. Juliette was the only person who could reliably open one of the cabinet childproof locks!

jaedian From: jaedian Date: January 12th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have pretty much given up on gates. We have one at the top of the stairs that she hasn't gotten thru or over yet. But the big kids have finally figured out how to open it. (adults are always stumped by that one, more than once my cleaners removed it off the hinges cause they couldn't figure out how to open it) She has made a credible attempt at climbing over the bottom gate (was stopped before she got over)

All my attempts to gate her out of anyplace down here have failed. She understands you find something to stand on to climb over if you are too short. Failing that she would just keep attacking it until you loosen it. (since the ones downstairs are all temporary ones) And at about 18 months I had put a gate across the whole half of the LR to keep her out of the big kid toys. Tricky as the big kids had to be able to get around it. I gave up when she started climbing over the sofa instead. I have an extra gate or two if you wanted to try that, but it won't work for long.

And as far as I can tell, for the most part they don't hurt themselves (not a guarantee mind you) they just utterly destroy your stuff and other things. J even got a steak knife once, and I was the one who nearly got cut. (she was fine)

Smart kids are really hard to parent. Smart, determined (or downright stubborn kids) are even harder. I am sure mine are both. I keep telling myself this will be awesome once they are grown, we just have to all survive their childhood!
jaedian From: jaedian Date: January 12th, 2010 04:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would recommend moving the important stuff up higher. (I was really tempted to install a shelf around the room at about 6-7 feet high like crown molding, - would look odd as hell, but I bet any parent would know why.) And start talking about stuff and setting limits. They do seem to understand because you might break it and mommy would be sad. (but I do put stuff I really care about elsewhere and up high) This will help when you go to a non-childproofed space. And learn to listen for signs of trouble, so even if you are not in the room, you know if you need to check on her.

The other thing I want to mention is you should fasten all bookshelves and any tippy furniture to the wall. We learned that lesson with (I think) Sara. She climbed the TV armoire to change the channel and the whole thing fell over. She miraculously jumped out of the way, and the TV was actually fine. Boy did that serve as a valuable lesson for both of us, But she may well us the dresser drawers, or bookshelf to get something cool you put up high. So you do not want the furniture to land on her. (on the plus side we are prepared for an earthquake too!)

If you post specific issues, I can tell you what we did about things as you go along.
celtprincess13 From: celtprincess13 Date: January 12th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Here via metaquotes.

A simple solution to the doorknob thing: a hook/eye closure (available at any hardware store) at adult height. She can turn the knob all she wants, but the door won't open until you undo the hook.
countertorque From: countertorque Date: January 16th, 2010 06:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Two words. Constant supervision. But you already knew that. Both of our kids have marks on their faces because we weren't smart enough to keep ahead of them.

The only concrete advice I have is to put a safety chain on the front door very high up. Our kids may kill us all by accidentally burning down the house, but at least they won't wander down the street while we're sleeping. Of course, the 3 year old can almost squeeze through there even so.
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