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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

My child is so active and determined to get into everything! I feel like I’m saying “no” too much.

Q: My child is so determined to get into everything, it is driving me crazy!  He will reach into the toilet, put sand on his tongue—you name it.  Even though we’ve child-proofed the house, I find myself constantly saying “no” to him.  Any ideas on how to handle this very active child?

A: As hard as it may be, work on redirecting your little explorer, rather than discouraging him.  Try to figure out what is capturing his interest, or what skill he is trying to master, and create a safe and acceptable way for him to explore. For example, if your toddler is digging through the houseplants, put them out of reach but offer a close alternative. Give him some dirt (or something similar—like sand) in a plastic container to play with and inspect. If he likes to pour the water from his sippy cup onto the floor, move him to the bathtub or backyard after the meal so he can explore and experiment with water without driving you crazy. This will begin to teach your child some important problem-solving skills—how to find creative and acceptable ways to do and get what he wants. 

A version of this question first appeared in American Baby magazine.

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