Question: Our grand daughter is a 16 month old dynamo. She is in constant movement every waking hour. She can open even difficult to open containers and smears the contents everywhere. There are locks and gates, but she still manages to find the "forbidden fruit" she saw someone else in the family use even several days ago. She is happy and is very funny, but her poor Mom is at her wits end. The little one overlooks her own toys, preferring to explore her 4 year old brother's and 6 year old sister's things. She is a master at disappearing and when she escapes she chooses to explore her world out of sight of everyone with disastrous consequences. I know my son and daughter-in-law play with her a lot. Any other suggestions?
Adele Brodkin: Congratulations and condolences! Your grand daughter is bright, curious, independent, engaging and "impossible". In other words, she's a well developing toddler, a young lady in a big hurry to grow up. The challenge for all the adults in the house is to keep her safe so she gets there unscathed. She will repeatedly over-ride any arrangement; so her adults have no choice but to use their still superior intellects to prevent problems. Maybe it's time to plan some finishing touches on the child proofing arrangements.
Consider bringing in a professional "baby proofer" who will assess the home physically and make suggestions while also setting up barriers from danger. If that is too costly, ask your public librarian to find a book that describes how to do all that on your own.
Although she is not going to pay a bit of attention to rules yet, set some simple ones up, particularly about taking her siblings' toys. Enlist the 4 and 6 year olds' cooperation to put their things out of reach.
If there are 3 or 4 adults available, each day can be carved up for "on guard" schedules. Some adult must know where she is and what she's doing every minute of the day. Take her on several little jaunts each week-to the park, to a baby animal zoo, BUT not, if you can help it, to huge CVS stores with easily reached items in splendid array. Joining a toddler play group, gym or music class for little ones, even a library or bookstore story-telling session can fill some of her waking time with wholesome activity. Consider a toddler swim at your local Y, even toddler soccer; and don't worry about the pressure of competing---it'll roll right over her now. She needs such activities to consume some of her energy. Some day she won't believe these tales of her early childhood exploits!
For more advice by Adele, check out the Between Teacher and Parent column.