How to Keep Toddlers out of the Christmas Tree
Christmas is such a fun time for me. The tree has always had a certain magic about it when all the other lights are off and the tree is glowing and lighting up the room. Every year after we decorate the tree, we turn off the living room lights and sit and admire the Christmas Tree while drinking Hot Chocolate or Eggnog.
At Christmas time, about 5 years ago, my 4th child was about 20 months old. Connor was into everything. My mother frequently called him the Tasmanian Devil when she visited. My other children were typical and got into things, but Connor made it his full time job. He ran from one disaster to the next.
Every year we pick out a live tree from a local hardware store. I remember the day we brought our tree home. I put the kids down for a nap and the house was quiet. I sat looking at the bare tree and thought, “How am I going to keep Connor out of the tree?!” Because the tree has always had a special place in my heart, I can’t bear the thought of only decorating the top half of the tree. Blocking it off wouldn’t stop him and I didn’t want him getting hurt, As I sat and contemplated my dilemma, I had the impression come to my mind, “How would you feel if you were told “NO” all day long?” I stopped short and realized, with a sinking feeling, that he was not feeling much love from me. How could he if most of our interaction was me telling him “no”. Tears welled in my eyes and then the thought came to me, “Teach him what he can do“.
When he woke from his nap, I brought him over to the tree and taught him the “1 finger touch” rule. Grabbing wasn’t allowed, but he could “1 finger touch” all he wanted. We decorated the tree later that night and we taught him again. We would purposely bring him to the tree and say “Touch” and show him how to touch.
I was blown away that by giving him permission and teaching him what was acceptable, that he actually did as we taught him. He was Nonverbal at the time, and he still ran around making terrible messes around the house, but he learned. I learned to not underestimate children.
This one rule has done wonders in my house. I teach preschool where the kids have access to the Christmas tree in December. I have taught children that like to grab and collect little treasures they find. I take them to the tree and teach them that they can touch all they want, but not grab. It works so well, the parents start using it as well.
The wonderful thing about the 1 finger touch rule, is this applies to other situations. The other day we were in a store with breakable things all over and no shopping carts to contain my littlest one. I reminded her to one finger touch in the store when she saw things she liked.
I have taught children that are special needs, or ones that struggle following directions and love getting into messes. Children are teachable if you take the time. Teach them what they can do and they will amaze you. This experience has made me grateful to God, for teaching me how to show love to my children and have more peace in the home.