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Child Banging Pots and Pans Can be Irritating

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Taken from: Growing Concerns- A childrearing question-and-answer column with Dr. Marthe Erickson

Question: We have bought all kinds of great toys for our toddler, but most of the time she ignores them and goes right to the kitchen cupboards to play with the pots and pans. She throws a fit if I don't let her play with them, but it really is a nuisance. What can I do?

Answer: It's not surprising that your toddler loves to play with the pots and pans. They're shiny, they make loud noises, and they're what she probably sees you using-- three ingredients for successful "toys" for tots. I understand, though, that you find it irritating to have her cluttering your kitchen and getting the pans dirty.

Perhaps you can arrive at a happy compromise. Young children often love to have their own kitchen cupboard down low where they can reach it, maybe marked with a special sticker. You can fill the cupboard with interesting odds and ends just like what mom and dad use for cooking: pots and pans, big wooden spoons, plastic bowls and cups, and metal measuring spoons that jangle when shaken. You might want to put child-safe latches (available at most hardware stores) on your other cupboards to keep your things clean and organized. (This is also a great way to keep hazardous cleaning supplies away from little hands.) If you don't want to designate a cupboard for your child, you could use a small laundry basket and keep it in a corner of the kitchen.

Although your question is a relatively simple one, it does raise a larger principle of childrearing. When you want your child to stop doing something, it's important to offer here a substitute--something that is OK for her to do instead. As your child grows older, you will need to use that principle in many more challenging and complex situations, so it's good to practice now. Before long you may be reminiscing about the good old days when your child could be entertained so simply and inexpensively with a few kitchen utensils.

The Children, Youth and Family Consortium invites your questions on child rearing for possible inclusion in this column. E-mail to mferick@tc.umn.edu or write to Growing Concerns, University of Minnesota News Service, 3 Morrill Hall, 100 Church St. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455.
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