Childproofing Your Home: From Tots to Teens

Editor: This is a guest post from Elle Aldridge, who was inspired to write for our blog when her family welcomed home two children from Columbia. Please note that this post does not detail any requirements of a homestudy. For more on that subject please see Preparing for a Homestudy.

While Thanksgiving is the most popular holiday in November, many don’t realize there’s a commemorative holiday called National Adoption Day, celebrated annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. November is also National Adoption Awareness Month.

Being able to adopt is something that many families are very thankful for, and while it can be a very joyous event, sometimes it can also be overwhelming. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of to help guide you along the way.

Before they crawl – The infant stage

Child pulling an electric cordThere’s nothing so blissful and miraculous as the first glimpse of your newborn child. It’s an unparalleled, unforgettable experience that’s difficult to put into words.

While parenthood takes you on a long, winding road with its share of bumps and potholes, it’s inevitable that your first few days of being a new parent will be spent in infatuation, awe and amazement. And even though these one-of-a-kind feelings are fun to indulge, it’s important that you think about the long path ahead.

Your family is the most important thing in your life, and protecting it will be your top priority. That means you should have a few security measures in place well before you bring your little bundle of joy home. A lot of this process involves common sense and a parent’s intuition.

  • Start by covering up the places where you wouldn’t want to see any messy little fingers. Outlet covers and furniture slips are a good idea.
  • You may also benefit from some thoughtful rearranging. Try concealing any sharp corners; make wooden table legs and jagged edges as inaccessible as possible.
  • Start thinking about which pieces of furniture you could afford to store in the basement for a few years while your child is at the most curious and most vulnerable stage. Head-height drawers and low-hanging cords are a big no-no.

Adapt on the go – The toddler stage

“The Terrible Twos” can be a lot to handle for any mom and dad. As your son or daughter approaches their second birthday, it’s important to account for the temper tantrums, mood swings and spills that surely lie ahead.

At this point, most children are walking upright, giving them a brand new way to get into trouble. Most people recommend keeping your valuables out of reach – for both your sake and theirs. With a few more inches added to their wingspan and a compelling need to explore the unknown, 2-year-olds will look to smack, throw, flip, turn and shake anything they can get their hands on. Be extra vigilant in the kitchen; you don’t want your child anywhere near your cutlery or fine china.

Middle childhood

After toddlerhood, children will begin to develop their own sense of self and socialize with peers and adults more often. Some developmental marks between ages 5-10 include:

  • Children begin to take responsibility for positive life habits (health, school, etc.)
  • Able to play in groups and develop close friendships
  • Able to express feelings and understand the difference between right and wrong
  • Awareness of safety rules such as fire safety
  • Able to read, write and communicate thoughts

Teenage years

As children grow into teens, they are increasingly more self-sufficient and able to make their own decisions. And then there’s one of the biggest freedoms of all – driving. However, this doesn’t mean that a little guidance from parents and trusted adults isn’t warranted.

When your teen takes part in social activities, both in-person and online, remember these guidelines:

  • Always make sure your son or daughter has a safe way to get home when they go out and that they go over their plans before leaving. It’s important to know where they’ll be and who they’ll be with at all times.
  • Teens should never give out personal information to strangers online, including addresses and phone numbers. Computers should be kept in family rooms or common areas where parents can see what their kids are doing online.
  • Remember that honesty is always the best policy – for both teens and their parents – when it comes to Internet use, social situations and more.

A job with no days off

When it comes to household safety, a parent’s work is never done. Babyproofing turns to childproofing, and childproofing even turns to teenproofing when your child grows in age, intellect and emotion. Depending on your child’s development, there are plenty of options for safety assistance (baby gates, room dividers and monitors are all popular choices). And there are a few places you just can’t go wrong – home security systems and fire escape plans are both no-brainers.

Ultimately, you can’t skip a day of ensuring your child’s protection. The more you do to safeguard your house from top to bottom, the easier it’ll be to maintain the health and security of your littlest loved ones. Don’t cut any corners, and enjoy every day you have together!

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