With the warm weather we've been experiencing in Georgia over the past few weeks, Lukas and I are enjoying more time outdoors. Many days he'll run up to the front door, stand up on his tippy toes and try to reach the handle. Finally he looks at me and makes his intentions known. So we go outside.
We are in the process of re-doing our backyard and Mr. Cob has sprayed round-up the past three weekends, so our backyard isn't kid-friendly at this time. Instead we end up in our front yard, which has some grass, but Lukas doesn't seem to have any desire to play on the grass. He is more interested in walking up and down the sidewalk.
He's pretty good about holding on to my hand and listening to me when it's time to turn around and go the other way. But we are having a problem with teaching him not to walk out into the road. I don't know if I'm expecting too much from an almost 17 month old, but he understands when I say NO (as evidenced by his look of sadness and instant crying upon hearing me say No to him), so I figure it can't be too early to teach him that he can't walk into the road.
I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing, but I'm trying to be consistent with my approach. If he starts walking towards the road, I sternly say NO and stop him. I then crouch down so I'm on his level and explain that the road is not safe and we can't go onto the road. I give him a hug, tell him I love him and then I let go of him. If he goes for the road again, I rinse and repeat (stop him, firmly say no with a serious face, repeat my schpeel about the road, hug, love, go). Then I tell him we're going inside if he goes for the road again. And when he goes for the road again, I say no, etc. and then I follow through on my promise of going inside.
He cries and is upset that I'm taking him inside, but I'm hoping that my actions will teach him that he needs to listen and not do things that are unsafe. I have no idea if it's effective or if he's too young.
But in trying to teach him about safety, I'm realizing that the word "no" can be very powerful, and I do think it has its place when teaching our children. But I also think I need to be careful about using the word No, because I'm now sensing that it can lose its gusto if I overuse it in non-serious/dangerous settings. I want Lukas to know that when I say No to him, I mean it and that I'm stopping him from doing something that is potentially harmful or dangerous to him.
I'm curious how other parents are teaching their kiddos about outdoor safety and safety in general. Do you use the word no? Do you think "punishing" a 17 month old by bringing him inside when he doesn't listen to me is too harsh? Is it ineffective? Any advice or things you've found that have worked?