How to Make Your Home a Yes Environment

“Don’t pull on those cords!”

“Please stop taking all of the pots and pans out of the cupboard.”

“That vase is glass and will break if it falls off that shelf that is exactly your height.”

“Be careful with all of those framed photos, they are very special.”

“It’s not safe to drink that toilet bowl cleaner, little one. Stay out of this cabinet.”

The world is filled with “no”s and “don’t”s and “stop that”s. It can add so much stress for parents and kids if they have to constantly hear those words in their home environment. I often hear the excuse of “they need to learn the word no” or “they need to learn to respect my things.” Believe me, there will be no shortage of no’s in their life. It will probably be one of the first messages they learn. And respecting things comes with maturity. We can’t expect a child with an immature brain to act maturely.

Expecting a small child not to touch everything within reach is setting that child up for failure. It is age appropriate for a little one to take out all the dishes they can reach; to try and reach the television screen; to pull on cables and plugins and blinds; to grab little trinkets and knick-knacks. Everything is new. Everything is exciting.

The solution to this constant battle of don’t touch is creating a Yes Environment.

What is a Yes Environment, you ask?

It is a space that has been curated specifically for young children. A space where they can roam freely and safely without causing harm to themselves or that urn of your great grandma’s ashes.

How can I create a Yes Environment?

1. Secure all furniture. Use brackets to secure bookshelves and dressers to the wall. Anchor the television to the wall. Look for anything heavy that a child can reach, and then move it. Move cords for the window blinds out of reach. Secure cabinets with medicines and cleaners in them. This might be the most important step for anyone with small children.

2. Gather up all of the breakables, knick-knacks, and super special items (special as in you would be devastated if it was destroyed), and put them in a new home for the next couple of years. That new home could be a box in the top of your closet. There will be a time when they can come back out, but early childhood isn’t it.

3. If you have little ones that like to get to cables, cords, and outlets, move something to block them so they are out of sight. We have our TV mounted on the wall with nothing under it but cords. We disguised the cords by putting an art easel in front of them. Problem solved.

4. Put toys and activities on low shelves that kids can get to without having to ask for help every time. This will empower them and give them more independence. As for kids taking out all of the pots and pans, we like to fill lower cabinets with things that we don’t mind them taking out and playing with. Just yesterday my daughter took out every single food storage container that we had and stacked them up. She doesn’t even try to open the cabinet full of cleaners right next door because it doesn’t open. This creates a yes space where the child can still explore and do favorite toddler activities without me having to intervene for touching the “wrong” thing because I have removed or locked away all of the “wrong things.”

5. Simplify. A Yes Environment can turn into a big headache if there are 50,000 toys strewn about the entire house. Minimize the amount of items that are available at one time to avoid a lot of nagging and frustration with clean up.

You can constantly assess what is working and what isn’t. If you have to continuously tell your toddler to stop scooping the dirt out of the potted plant in the corner, it may be time to move that plant out of sight and out of reach. Creating a Yes Environment doesn’t mean that you are “giving in” or being “soft” or “allowing them to manipulate you.” It means that you are setting your child up to succeed. You are nurturing their self-confidence, security, and sense of control in their life that, for the most part, they have no control over.

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