Goodbye Baby Gate and Hello to Freedom – I

There is a four-year-old boy in a family that is bothered about keeping him in the room at night. The child has learnt to open the first gate and the family has now gone in for a stronger second spring in the gate that is difficult to open. The intention is to ensure the child is not able to open the gate and run away in an unknown world. The kid is great and has not yet known to climb over the top of the gate. This might happen at some point of time and he could be envisioned going outside alone, which has not happened so far but as parents there is a worry of this happening in near future. The current age of the child does not require the family to go in for a chain lock on the outside or get the doorknob covered and install a baby gate on top of the other baby gate, as the current age of the child is a bit of a record-scratch moment. This is probably the Montessori school experience being discussed here, however still the preschoolers should not be baby-proofed into their respective rooms. The reason is that there are more effective methods to teach them not to be boneheads than simple containment and restriction.

Usually a three or a four-year-old is old enough to understand the danger, cause and effect and how to safely and responsibly care for their environment. This is the age to be encouraging independence, and not fearing it. Restricting son’s movement with a baby gate is like presenting him with a tempting, glorious limit that is made to be tested and broken, which the boy will indeed test and break. There is no purpose or respect for the gate as the boy just sees it as a big fun challenge, even though he is old enough to understand that the rule to stay in the room till mom or dad ask the kid to come out. By giving the kid more freedom, one is actually giving himself the peace of mind that one is managing to raise a capable human being who understands that table corners are sharp and stoves are hot even if one is not there to remind the kid. One will be very grateful for this fact in a few months while chasing a second mobile toddler and simply will not be able to hover over the preschooler.

Baby gates need to be removed as these are more of a liability than anything else. While using kid rooms upstairs, it is safe to let kids use the staircase than fall while climbing over the baby gate. It is advisable to use an alarm clock till the time the kid is required to be in the room and read books till then. By four, you may allow the kid to go downstairs and play quietly with toys or games on a device. By five the child may be allowed to help himself with breakfast components. These are mere milestone that may sped up with each subsequent child, since they travel in a pack most of the time.

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