How can I ease items away from my 14-month-old that she shouldn't have, like cell phones?

Q: My 14-month-old is fascinated with any technology, the dog's leash, car keys, water bottles, and basically anything that's not a toy. She throws crying fits when the items are taken out of her hands. I don't want to give the items back but sometimes she won't stop.

A: Your 14-month-old's growing coordination is thrilling for her and opens up the world for exploration. Whether she’s walking confidently or still cruising, she’s probably constantly in motion and eager to touch, taste, hold, bang, and move every interesting thing she can find. At this age, kids tend to have clear ideas about what they want and can be very determined about trying to get them. Things that their grown-ups use often have a special allure.

Unfortunately, children this young don’t understand danger or the fact that you need the car keys to drive home, so your daughter definitely doesn’t understand why you’re taking away a newfound “toy” that’s not a toy.

Your best bet is prevention. As much as possible, keep things you don’t want her to have out of reach or even out of sight.

If the object isn’t dangerous, and you don’t need it urgently, you may just want to wait until she sets it aside. Attention spans are very short at this age, so you may find she has moved on to her next adventure after a few minutes.

If you need to take something from her, try swapping. Playfully offer her a substitute object and quietly move the other object out of sight. If she still protests, distract her with a new activity or a change of scenery. Her frustration may be fierce at first, but she’ll soon be back to busily exploring.

Answered by Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D.

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