This Tiktoker's Kitchen Safety Hack Is a Great Lesson in Boundaries

Mom uses painter's tape instead of a baby gate to keep her toddler out of her kitchen workspace, and it has a lot of us wondering how.

Woman pulling cookies from oven
Photo: Getty

Kitchens and toddlers can be a dangerous combination. Every night when I try to cook dinner for my brood, I'm also playing stove and oven warden to my two little boys, ages 1 and 3. And since we have an open kitchen, keeping them safe with baby gates is not an option. That's why one parent's viral hack for keeping her little one out of the kitchen danger zone made me do a double take.

Taking to TikTok, a mom who posts as tweetn shared a video of her son being kept at bay, and away from her prep space by the stove top, using a simple household item. "Who needs a gate when you have painter's tape?" the mom captioned the clip, adding, "Try this with your little ones."

It's pretty fascinating to see her son pacing back and forth on the other side of the blue line this creator adhered to her kitchen floor. She has literally created a boundary that her child isn't allowed to cross. First thought: Does this parent also have painter's tape around her bathtub, toilet, and a box of her favorite cookies in the pantry? But seriously, as every parent who has ever tried to shower without a child peeking in knows, boundaries are important not only for safety reasons, but also for sanity.

So does the painter's tape method of boundary setting really work? According to several commenters to the video, the short answer is "yes," but not for every kid, and not right away. As one person noted, getting a child to understand they cannot cross the line "takes time and discipline." But countless commenters said they employed the painter's tape method in other situations—like to show kids how close to the TV they are allowed to sit or to get them to stay in their bedrooms at night.

Teachers also said that the tape method is effective at school, with one commenter sharing, "We have a red tape line in our classroom (our personal area), believe or not, the kids respect what it means and do not cross it for the most part."

Someone else praised the original poster for her "genius" hack for teaching her kiddo self-control and the importance of boundaries at an early age.

But just as many commenters laughed off the idea that tape would work for their kids. Countless parents said their kids would peel up the tape or just ignore it. Which is fair. The tape trick isn't magic, and some kids just won't play along.

But perhaps this TikTok can inspire parents and guardians to think outside the box when it comes to getting the message across that no, it's not okay to touch the stove. The same goes for asking for consent. As in, it's definitely uncool to open the door when Mommy's in the bathroom (at least more than three times). Because just saying "no" or "yes" is not enough sometimes. Whether it's painter's tape, or a rewards system for listening (I'm guilty of giving my 3-year-old candy when he makes the right choice to respect my rules versus going rogue), or even distraction, kids need to know that boundaries are non-negotiable.

I'm a big believer that explaining why I'm setting a boundary goes a long way. Even if my 1-year-old doesn't comprehend everything I'm saying, since I've told him time and time again that the oven is hot and can hurt him, and that's why we don't touch it, he is starting to catch on. Likewise, if I inform my toddler that pulling my hair doesn't feel good to me, one day (when he's holding a clump of my hair) he'll put two and two together. Because affixing painter's tape to my head isn't a good look when I already haven't showered (alone) for days or with enough time to wash my hair.

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