Wednesday, December 1, 2010

O Christmas Tree

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I have a very simple philosophy on baby-proofing my house. I don't do it.

Yes, I stick those outlet socket covers in most of the open sockets...though not all. And most of our bookcases are mounted to the wall. My cleaners are all stored so high that I can barely reach them. That is about as far as I go. No gates. No cupboard locks.

Knocking on wood, knocking on wood, knocking on wood....

And so far, no injuries to any of my three children.

Knocking on wood some more.

Hear that? It is me knocking on wood.

I don't rearrange my house to keep things out of reach. I remember being pregnant with Brayden and people laughing about how our stuff would slowly move up over time. I have literally seen homes where nothing is available on the last two feet of available space. Shelves are bare. Tables are bare. Drawers are empty...

If you have read my other posts, you know that is not for me.

But what about when the Christmas tree comes out? And those decorations? Do I only decorate the top half of the tree?


My tree is fully decorated. 


It is touching the floor.


There is nothing baracading the tree from the family.

We have had a mobile child for six straight years and so far (more knocking on wood) we have had no tree incidents.

So how do you decorate a Christmas tree as usual with young little ones around?

Just like you live your every day life. Just like you house-proof your child year round.

But I do have some extra tree tips. Trees are fascinating. At play group this last week, I had four 3 and 4 year olds standing around the tree in awe. They literally looked at it for 20 minutes and I had to prod them away to do an activity. I think they would have looked at the tree the entire time. Christmas trees are like magnets, so it is wise to have a plan.

First, don't put anything breakable within the child's reach. Put the breakable stuff up high. I think that is pretty standard practice anyway--smaller and lighter stuff up higher right? Just make sure the breakable things are out of the child's reach. That way if she succumbs to temptation, she won't be injured and you won't be lamenting the loss of that heirloom.

Second, consider allowing her to play with something on the tree. We usually have a few "yes" ornaments among the "no" ornaments. This can take the novelty away and also provides substitution to take place. Now, not all children can handle this freedom, so consider it carefully before you allow it. If you find your child can't handle the freedom, you might consider having a small tree that is okay for your child to decorate to her hearts content. I had a tree like that growing up and I really enjoyed it. Then you could make the big main tree completely off limits.

Third, remember the principle of Ask and Tell. Give instructions on what is okay and what is not okay with the Christmas tree. When you are done, ask your child about the instructions as appropriate (see linked post below for more on this principle). 

Fourth, be sure to be present with your child for the first week after a tree is put up. Supervise tree interaction. You can gently remind her what is okay and what isn't okay. If your child is accustomed to having rules on what is okay to touch and what isn't, this should be enough to teach her what is and isn't okay.

Fifth, be patient. The tree is new, it is shiny, and it is full of interesting toy-looking things. It is also a constant reminder of the joy of Christmas, so it incites feelings of great excitement.

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Amanda said...

Yep, (knock on wood) we've always had a fully decorated christmas tree and haven't broken an ornament yet despite having a 2.5 year old in the house. Now he's allowed 3 ornaments that he can move around, and he leaves all the other ones alone.

I also knew a mom who had great success with the one-finger rule for touching ornaments. It satisfied her kids' natural curiosity while not allowing for anything to be grasped too hard or taken off of the tree.

Kristy Powers said...

I like the one-finger rule! That's funny - and do-able! This year my 18-month-old saw our Christmas tree for what he thought was the first time. He was in awe. We have already trained him that certain things are a no, of course, so when he went to touch the tree, we only had to say, "That's a no" twice and he stopped for good (so far). I wonder if it was so easy because it's naturally intimidating, being so tall and bright. :) I think our older son should not have had the freedom to touch any of the ornaments, but we did allow him to touch a few and that just proved to be annoying. He is best with strict limits!

LeFebvre Momma said...

I always thought it silly to child-proof you home since then they don't learn that not everything is theirs. how would I teach her that some things are not for her - at other peoples homes when everythign at our home is hers? I agree with your points about the tree -- although I do have two strands of bell garland that I put on the very bottom of the tree, so that I can tell if someone is playing with the tree without me! It has helped me tremendously -- and besides, teaching my daughter is for a lifetime. I can go buy new ornaments tomorrow.

LaChelle said...

thank you for posting this. I am about to decorate my tree..its been up & lit for a few days with no ornaments so that my son got used to it's giant presence in the room. He seems to leave it alone for the most part. But I planned to add decorations, problem...ALL my decorations are breakable on the tree! so I guess all are "no" ornaments! Hah!

Plowmanators said...

Manda, thanks for sharing that one finger rule! That is a good idea.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks everyone else for your comments!

Lachelle, I guess that means you don't risk confusion over what is okay and what isn't :)


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