Child-Proofing vs. House-Proofing

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Figure out when to babyproof, or childproof, your space and when to houseproof your little one. Some things need to be done, but not all things.

Baby reaching for a drawer

We parents all want our children to be safe. We feel very protective of our kids and want to make sure we remove risk from their lives for getting hurt.

Parents often wonder if they should child-proof their house or house-proof their child.

To childproof, or babyproof, a house means to remove all potential dangers from your home.

To house-proof a child means that you teach your child to obey when told not touch or do things.

Childproof Some Things and Houseproof Other Things

If you read my post Tips for Baby-Proofing Your Home, you will see that I am one who likes to house-proof my child as much as possible.

In that post, I have lots of reasons for why I do so, along with good safety ideas for what definitely should be done to “child-proof” your home.

There are some dangers that you can’t ignore and aren’t worth the chance. For example, if you have a child playing alone in her bedroom, it is wise to bolt the dresser to the wall.

You can instruct her to not climb the dresser, but all kids test boundaries and if your child will be playing alone there, you cannot keep an eye on her with that potential danger.


READ: How to Child-Proof Your Space for Independent Playtime


There are many times you have to decide when to enforce house-proofing and when you need to pick your battles and just child proof the children and the space. Read more about this in my post House-Proofing: Pick Your Battles.

House-Proofing Helps Teach Respect for Personal Property

I was recently contemplating why some children have respect for the property of others and why some don’t.

Some children seem to believe everything within their reach is fair game. They will take it, play with it, and leave it wherever they happen to be standing when they are done.

You might live near such children and find everything outside needs to be under lock and key or you will never see it again!

These are not children who are trying to steal or even really knowingly being rude. They just don’t realize that there are things in the world they shouldn’t touch. Everything they are exposed to has been baby-proofed, so they are rarely if ever told “no.”

I know children like this. They are children who are raised by wonderful parents who teach them strong morals and values. I have also known adults like this. It got me thinking.


Read: How to Teach Respect for Personal Property


As I thought about children old enough to make decisions of whether or not to touch things with the realistic expectation of them obeying, my thoughts led to the home.

I realized that homes that were child-proofed rather than house-proofed were producing children who didn’t have knowledge and control to not touch the property of others.

I am not talking about other kid’s toys; I am talking things in your garage or even cars. Whatever they can reach is fair game.

And doesn’t that just make sense? Doesn’t it make sense that a child who is given no physical restrictions in the home will carry that over around the neighborhood?

Doesn’t it make sense that the child who is allowed to be overly physically active in the home with balls and other toys because there is nothing breakable around will translate that into the homes of others?

Of course they will!

3 benefits of house proofing rather than child proofing

House-Proofing Your Child Helps Teach Boundaries

House-proofing your child helps your child to learn boundaries. It helps your child to learn respect for others and for the possessions of others.

You can’t touch whatever you want whenever you want in the real world.

When Brayden was 9 months old and I was following the advice to leave some things to be “off-limits” to him, I had not thought about this benefit.

As I told him over and over again to not touch a coveted item, I had no idea that it would lead to him having a respect for the property of other people.

But it worked! What a blessing to me, my neighbors, and himself!

Get more tips on boundaries in these posts:

Conclusion

As you decide what to house-proof and what to child-proof, keep in mind some main goals of keeping your kiddos safe, teaching them to listen and obey, teaching them to respect the property of others, and teaching them that there are boundaries and that they need to respect boundaries.

As you do these things, you will be able to discern when to remove items and when to leave them. House-proofing can do so much to help you teach your child valuable life skills, so don’t be afraid to do it!

This post originally appeared on this blog in March 2010

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