15 – 18 MONTHS

Independence is raising its head in a big way.  Most children this age do not like having clothes put on, diapers changed, or really anything done to them.  They want to do everything by themselves.  They’re not very good at it though, are they?

This is the age that children treat the house as though it is their own house.  Permission to do things or get into stuff is never requested.  Know where your child is.

Your child will climb.  If he can get his knees on it, he will climb it.  He will also fall.  Some children seem to be aware of where they will fall and always land on carpet, or with an outstretched hand.  Then, there are the ones that fall flat on their face on concrete.  Since your child will climb, try to make things safe and even show them how to climb as well as get down safely.

They are into and onto everything.  While preventing accidents is important, sometimes it is safer to facilitate a child’s adventure instead of setting up barricades to keep them out of places.  They may actually get injured trying to defeat your barricade.  Showing them how to do something safely might be better.  Ask me about examples.

Living room tables and fireplaces are the most common injury places in the house.  Move the table far enough away from the sofa so that when he falls from the sofa, he’ll miss the table.  Fireplaces are a lure because they can climb on the elevated hearth and play with all the neat stuff up there.

Your child’s response to injuries will partly depend on your reaction to those injuries.  If you appear alarmed, gasp, or bolt out of your chair see what happened, your child will learn to give you the response you were looking for.  Injuries should be acknowledged, but try to be calm.  Say something like “oops”, “boom”, “uh-oh” and try not to fly across the room.  If your child has a significant injury, you will know it.  It won’t be a secret.  When an injury is significant, your being calm will show your child that you are in charge and that things will be OK.  This will help your child handle problems in the future.

A big problem at this age is poisonings.   Children explore their world by placing things in their mouths.  When visitors come to your house, remember that they may be on medications.  Grandmothers (often on medications) may place their big purse on the floor and this becomes a treasure chest for children. No purses should be available for your child.  Keep POISON CONTROL number handy on refrigerator.  Ask me for stickers.

Another big problem is drowning.  I have lost 9 children in my practice to drowning over the years.  Each child was 18 months to 4 years of age and each was left at a home where there was a pool and a babysitter.   Babysitters were never teenagers, but responsible adults who advised parents that the “door is locked and they can’t get out”, or “I’ll sit by the pool and won’t take my eyes off your child”.   Sometimes the babysitters were grandparents at their own home.  I would never leave your child where there is a pool unless you stay with them.  If you have to go some place, your child should go with you.  If you have a pool, get a kid guard fence.  If the grandparents have a pool, ask them to get a kid guard fence.  If your Day Care has a pool, consider another Day Care.  Have an alarm placed on any door that exits to the pool so that will alert you whenever the door opens.  Radio Shack is a good source for these.

Children at this time dislike their pediatrician in the worst way.  It does not work to negotiate when they are seen here.  Going fast is best.  They won’t have a sense of time until they are 2 years old.  A that time, they will have heard you say “almost done”, “almost finished” enough that they will have a sense that things have a start and finish.  But not at this age.