When Sheila Baskerville hears a familiar thump, she knows that her 5-year-old, Clifton, is perfecting a new tumbling routine. "Wherever he is, he tries to do cartwheels, forward rolls, and handstands," says the Stone Mountain, GA, mom.
Fearless acrobatics are common among preschoolers, says Teri McCambridge, M.D., chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. "Their balance is improving and they're getting stronger. They discover that they can do more with their body," she explains.
To keep your child (and your furniture) safe while your kid tries out new moves:
Make sure he has a clear, open space to play in, with a cushioned surface, like a carpet or lawn. "Most of the injuries I see are a result of contact with another child or landing on a toy," says Dr. McCambridge.
Discourage your child from jumping and tumbling in the house, and designate areas that are no-play zones (like your living room, where he might bump into the coffee table or a fragile vase).
Channel his energy. Make sure he gets lots of active time during the day, whether at the playground or in a sport.