When most people speak of training on the stairs, they are referring to a form of exercise in which they run up and down stairs to increase strength and endurance, but we have been talking […]
When most people speak of training on the stairs, they are referring to a form of exercise in which they run up and down stairs to increase strength and endurance, but we have been talking about a different kind of stair training in our house lately. Our version of stair training is primarily about keeping our little guy off the stairs.
He has recently taken an interest in the stairs. His increasing mobility and curiosity about the world have collided to create a seemingly insatiable desire to go climb them. We all knew this moment would come eventually. I’ve mentioned previously that our family practices a philosophy of world-proofing the child rather than child-proofing the world. (This means that we don’t have a gate on the stairs. Instead, we have vigilant eyes on the baby, so that we can offer quick correction and training when he attempts to climb the stairs.)
On his first attempt to ascend the stairs, he was met with a chorus of “No, no!” from the rest of our family. He simply looked at all of us and smiled his big cheesy grin before reaching up to the next step. A swift flick on his hand combined with removal from the stairs sent the message that it was not OK for him to be there. He hung his head and cried for five seconds and then crawled over to the toy box.
His second attempt to ascend the stairs earned him another round of “no-no’s.” He pressed on toward the next step anyway. I jumped up from the couch and started to walk over to him. He instantly backed down off the step and started to crawl away. I simply patted his back and told him what a good choice he just made.
This third attempt to ascend the stairs was over almost before it began. He crawled to the base of the stairs and looked longingly toward the top. Again, the chorus chimed in, and he looked at all of us a bit like a deer in headlights. He looked again at the stairs. From his crawling position, he rocked back onto his butt, lifted his arms up and then just flapped his hands in the air in a limp-wristed imitation of a bird in flight. He let out a little squeal and then crawled off to the toy box again. Our whole family clapped and cheered as he crawled away. He flashed his big cheesy grin at us again.
I’ve heard many of people say that young children can’t be trained. Some think training is useless or even harmful if attempted before a child can talk or walk. We have not found this to be the case. On the contrary, we have found that the earlier we begin training on things, the sooner they start accepting instruction and learning obedience.
Getting an early start on this brings many benefits during the toddler years and beyond. We’re thrilled to see the stair training with our little guy going so well thus far because we know it’s a great start to all of training that will follow in the years to come.