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Keeping Climbers Safe

There isn't a table, dresser, or bookcase in his house that Nathan Ward, 3, of Falls Church, VA, hasn't attempted to conquer. "We had to get rid of furniture that couldn't be bolted to the wall," says his mom, Wendy.

While some kids are content to explore the world with feet planted firmly on the ground, others take a more active approach, says Claire Lerner, director of parenting resources for Zero to Three in Washington, DC. And between ages 2 and 3, children gain the physical and problem-solving skills needed to try to scale whatever's in their path; combine that with their lack of impulse control, and the result can be trouble!

If your child loves to climb:

Show him what's off-limits -- and be consistent. He won't understand what "dangerous" means until you've repeated it in the same context.

Encourage him when it's safe. Supervise while he scrambles up a stack of pillows or up a ladder at the playground. He'll feel as if he's accomplished something, but you'll still be in control.

Keep an eye on him. Be prepared to rescue him from the top of the slide or the top of the cabinets, if necessary.