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Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

Posts Tagged ‘freedom of movement’

Make It Hard for Them!

Friday, May 17th, 2013 6:34 pm | By Stephanie Woo

 Climbing a big hill in Baltimore’s Federal Hill park (2 years old)

When Brooke was 11-months old, she loved climbing stairs. Twice a day, I would let her loose in the staircase of our four-story building and she never looked back till she was at the top. When Mackenzie was cruising at 12-months old, I would take her and her red wagon around a whole NYC block. When both of them started walking, we would go for long walks in the park without a stroller.  

Children are born to adapt. Mexican children can eat hot green pepper off the vine without feeling any pain. A Himalayan child is used to climbing big mountains. An African child can see and run long distances. 

Knowing this, I try to give my toddlers lots of active, physical experiences that push their bodies. I let them experience many different terrains and even try to make it hard for them. Big hills, 1-2 mile treks, difficult hikes – even our driveway is unusually steep, which means walking up and down everyday takes extra effort. 

I’m not trying to train Olympians here. I just gives them experiences and observe how they respond. Before they turned two, I took them up the big hill in the Federal Hill Park in Baltimore. They fell and slip so many times, but they never gave up. By the time we reached the top, I was completely out of breath and swore I would never do that again. But when we reached the bottom, all they wanted was to climb up again. And again. Who knew they would love conquering big hills so much? That steep climb quickly became part of our weekly routine. 

The other day, I told B and M, “Today, we are going to climb a mountain.” At the end of the 7-mile paved hike (they were in the stroller for part of it), I asked, “Did you enjoy climbing the mountain?” Brooke said, “Brooke didn’t climb mountain.” She then pointed to a really steep hill in the distance and say, “I want to climb that mountain!” Walking on a paved road did not qualify as mountain climbing to her! 

Toddlers have way more physical stamina than you can imagine. To them, the upward climb is the most interesting part of a walk and that interest keeps them going. So find terrains that challenge them. Make it hard for them. And start them as young as possible! You’d be surprised how far they can go. 

Trekking in the woods behind our house, which was overgrown and had no path before we arrived (2 years 4 months)

Walking on a stone path with big, uneven stones in Portland’s Japanese Garden (2 years 2 months)

Indoor wall climbing gym (2 years 2 months)

‘Follow the Child’ On a Walk in the Park

Thursday, May 31st, 2012 4:04 pm | By Stephanie Woo

We go to the park for a walk almost everyday. It’s a time I let them be as free as possible. Generally, I don’t limit them to a certain part of the park and instead, my nanny and I each watch one so they can choose where they want to go. I want them to explore nature, so I like to let them loose where there are many opportunities to observe animals, smell flowers and people-watch. The girls are now 17 months.

We arrive at the park. I unbuckle them and let them get off the stroller by themselves. I try not to do anything for them that they can do by themselves.

Brooke immediately heads to one side of the park where the flowers are,

climbs over the low fence…

to smell the flower.

Mackenzie is with my nanny where she is walking around with her toys

She picks up a plastic cap. I’m pretty sure it’s disgustingly dirty, but I try not to run over, scream and whack it out of her hands, like I want to. Instead, I just watch.

Here is the cap – is it going in her mouth?

Not this time, thank god. As I breathe a sigh of relief, I tell her ‘good job’ for throwing trash in the trash can. If I give in to my fears everytime she touches something dirty and freak out, then she really cannot be free during our walks, and neither can I.

Brooke tells my nanny she wants something to eat

I tell the nanny to give her the whole bag and tell her to get it herself

It takes her a while to rustle through the bag. My nanny and I look at each other. I’ve trained her (and myself) to not rush to help her, even though we can do it so much faster than she can.

She finally wrestles it out of the bag. Mackenzie reaches for some too.

She takes a piece and I ask her to give me the rest

As we sit and eat, she makes the signs for “music” and

Mackenzie makes the sign for ‘bird.’ Together, they mean, “The birds are singing.” So we sit to enjoy a bit of music before moving on.

I follow Mackenzie around. Here she spots someone stretching…

Brooke plays on a patch of grass. When she is done, rather than picking her up, I tell her to “Get up by yourself.”

She does.

Observing some squirrels. We live in NYC. The animals are limited.  *sigh*

A nice lady lets us pet her dog. Brooke loves it and Mackenzie doesn’t. I let Brooke do it and leave Mackenzie alone. She doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to.

It’s time to go home. They climb in the stroller by themselves and sit as we buckle them in. That’s it for us today. Till tomorrow!

How do I stop my child from climbing on everything?

Monday, December 5th, 2011 2:32 pm | By Stephanie Woo

I took Brooke to an indoor playground the other day. She stared at the older kids as they went up and down the slide. I went to get something from the stroller and when I turned around, Brooke had climbed halfway up the stairs of the slide! I almost had a heart-attack but I did my best to stay calm and watched her get to the top. I helped her slide down and immediately, she went for the stairs again.

From that day on after we got home, she started climbing onto anything she could, including the weaning table. Somewhere in the middle of the meal, we would find her on top of the table with her knee in a bowl of rice!

Clearly, my little monkey was itching to climb. I knew I had to give her something to climb because if I didn’t, she would find something to climb onto anyway. Babies are like that, you cannot stop them because they NEED to do these things, whether it’s putting things in their mouth or climbing. If you don’t want them to do something, you need to redirect their energy and give them a version of it that they CAN do.

So I asked my nanny to clean the staircase in my building and I let her loose on the stairs. She went up and up. Super fast too. And then I would take her down and start again. Up and up again. Five flights in the morning. Then five flights in the afternoon. Then five flights the next morning. She would squeal and babble loudly all the way up and her laughter would echo through the hallway. She loved it.

We’ve continued climbing stairs everyday and I’m happy to report the table-climbing has stopped. Brooke is in better shape than ever and Mama is still catching up!