Stop child-proofing your home

Just yesterday, I reminded my second daughter to attach a gate at the top of her stairs to prevent her 1-year-old daughter from accidentally falling down the stairs. Surely, that was a grandmother's concern for her pretty grandchild.

But then, I remember that I had brought up my own three girls without those gates. Fact is, the stairs at my parents' home were open ones, with 9" in between ballusters, and no wall on the other side. Come to think of it, we had not really child-proofed our own 4th floor condominium unit which had an open spiral staircase near an ungrated window. Not that we didn't want the house to be safe; funds just couldn't cover the extras.

But none of my children met with any serious accidents at home -- no scalded fingers, no near drowning in the pail or baby tub, no falls from the chairs, no electrical shocks, just a minor bump or two on an unbuffered table corner.

I remember though that I once heard a thump-thump-thump on our steel spiral staircase, and found my second daughter, then a chubby 3-year-old, sprawled head-down on the stairs. Her shoulders rested on the 3rd step, her head raised and poised, one hand was flailing slightly on the 2nd step, and one of her legs was caught between two metal ballusters. It was a frightful sight. I rushed over to untangle my daughter from the stairs, afraid she had hurt her head. Upon checking though, she seemed fine with nary a scratch. We now laugh at the situation, referring to how her baby fat cushioned her fall.

Back then, we took care of our children, fully aware that discovery and exploration were crucial keys to learning. A little dirt on cute bedimpled fingers to pick up a nice fallen leaf in the park could easily be wiped off with a wet towel. Climbing the sofa was fine, but take off the shoes or slippers first. Climbing the stairs is ok, but hold onto the ballusters one at a time. Mama will be right behind to support when needed.

Another mother shares her take on the pre-occupation with child-proofing modern homes.

"I am a childcare provider, and a mother of four myself. I have anywhere from 7 to 11 kids in my home any given day of the week. I only provide care for the children of my friends, and share my parental philosophies with them often; however, it never fails to amaze me, the ignorance out there.

"Mothers, you think putting locks on doors, and safety plugs in outlets, and corner buffers on edges is protecting your children from danger. You are so VERY wrong. You are only avoiding your children's natural tendency to explore. You are also provoking them to open every cupboard, door or curtain in your friends' homes, thus adding to the eminent danger of your child. You are also causing a great deal of frustration to the people's homes you visit, and possibly ruining friendships.

"Child proofing is the lazy parents answer to teaching your children right from wrong, danger from safety. Its just as bad as drugging your ADD child, instead of helping them cope with their natural personality.

"Why don't you try to be with your kids more. Get down on their level with them. Teach them about danger, instead of avoiding it. Teach them about safety. Take them to the hospitals, jails, court rooms, fire department, water treatment plant, animal rescue, health department, and others like these???? Spend some more time with your kids, you'll be amazed at how much they will learn and grow. And your friends may stop pulling their hair out every time you grace them with your presence."

So why was I reminding my daughter to install a gate at the top of the stairs? Forget that, I've changed my mind, knowing that my own three daughters had gotten the best education we could afford--the freedom to discover and experience.

Perhaps we need to study how trends and products have changed our perception, values and attitudes. I admit that I was influenced by the convenience of the newer products for babies, and had considered the thought that my own children should not go through the less comfortable situations we had experienced when they were young.

But then, all three wonderful daughters have grown to be responsible, curious and adventurous, simple and unparanoid, free-thinking, loving and caring ladies. So why should my grandchildren not have similar opportunities?

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NOTE: I failed to copy the link to the cited paragraphs above. If you find that these are yours, please accept my apologies. I don't intend to claim those insights as my own. But they did allow me less words to express. I would surely appreciate being able to link this to the proper source.... Vikky



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Comments 8 comments

tbelgard profile image

tbelgard 8 years ago from The rainy but beautiful Pacific Northwest

Nice article, interesting viewpoint. I tried to put on magnetic childproof locks, but they just all came off. Decided, "who needs em"? Just like you said, I have taught my chlld which cabinets he can play in and which he can't. I am all for the stair gate though. Nothing like being able to clean my kitchen with the piece of mind that my tot won't go tumbling down the stairs while my back is turned for a a moment. It gives him more freedom so I don't have to hover over him.


vikkycab profile image

vikkycab 8 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines Author

Thank you, It's so easy for us to forget the basics when all the conveniences are so handy and available. It's been a long time since those years child-rearing years that I have to consciously remind myself that true learning is based on experiences.

I do understand your pointperfectly. I guess we just have to do what we can to maintain the safe balance. Continue to have loving and safe fun with your child.


Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States

Excellent hub! These are my thoughts exactly! It annoys me to no end to see parents who child-proof their homes only to let their children run amok in other homes and my biggest pet peve is when I am expected to rearrange my what-nots and other things because at their house, the parents pick up everything and put it out of their reach instead of teaching them the meaning of the word "NO". I refuse to pick things up in my home and if the parents don't want their children to be made to leave things alone that are off limits here, they just need to keep them at their house! I love children but I won't reorganize my home to suit parents who are too lazy to teach their chilldren right from wrong. I have always told my family that if they don't want their kids to be made mind, not to bring them to my house. Mine has been the busiest house in the family from the beginning! LOL. Great article!

Bonnie


Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 8 years ago from Sydney

I don't have kids but this sounds like such great advice. These days, people are bringing their kids up wrapped in such cotton wool, how are they going to cope when they get out in the big wide world?

I spent a lot of my childhood cooped up in a sick bed and missed out on a lot of life's lessons as a result. But even so, when I was healthy, I wasn't cocooned like today's kids. Yet I still struggled to cope when I set out on my own.


Electro-Denizen profile image

Electro-Denizen 6 years ago from Wales, UK

I can see both sides of the argument. If you have boys, it can be a little different, as boys tend to be wreckers. On the other hand, we only partially child-proof our house against the investigations of our extremely active little boy, and tend to be behind him most of the time. A particular locked cupboard gives us piece of mind... But at a price! Because he loves nothing me than pulling the door really hard, back and forth, frustrated by the small gap. Yet, he's really good where it counts, with the unlocked ones. And, ironically, despite child gates on the stairs, he still managed to fall down them twice, once banging on the closed gate at the bottom, which probably made it worse.

But to my mind, the jury is still out on the child-proofing option. However, I do think that children are amazingly over fussed these days.


mitsuko 6 years ago

I agree with Electro-Denizen. It's different with boys... my parents didn't really have to childproof when they raised us three girls, but when they started helping out with my son, they discovered that boys were much more physical and exploratory...


Becky 6 years ago

The thought of not childproofing a house is ridiculous! I have a fearless, nonstop, curious son who would be dead many times over if it was not for childproofing. I watch him closely, but it is amazing what trouble he can get into in less than a minute. He is disciplined and redirected from hazards, but he is too little to really understand.


Lou1842 profile image

Lou1842 4 years ago

I think we do go overboard on safety and your article makes some interesting points.

However, as a parent of an 11 month old boy myself, a stair gate gives a bit of added security.

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