Yes Touch, No Touch: Supporting Your Little Explorers

child guidance Mar 27, 2020

One behavior challenge that many families face is the very typical toddler behavior of touching anything and everything toddlers can get their little hands on. Toddlers are so eager to discover the world around them, learning best when they engage multiple senses at the same time. However, their natural tendency to be little explorers can sometimes conflict with your goals for safety and taking care of belongings. Here are a few strategies you can use to manage this toddler behavior:

Change the Environment. This can involve changing the child’s location within the environment (e.g., taking his hand and guiding him away from the toilet) or changing something about the child’s location (e.g., placing dangerous, unsafe or fragile items out of reach of toddlers).

Redirect Behavior and Use the “Tell and Show” Strategy. Redirection provides children with an acceptable alternative to unacceptable behavior they are engaged in. Tell and Show involves telling children what they should do while showing them by using gestures and other visual cues.

Yes Touch, No Touch Books. Since I always use my favorite early childhood ideas with my own kids, here are pictures from a Yes Touch, No Touch book that I made for my son when he was a toddler. You can see from the photos that I just used sheet protectors that I attached together with ribbon. I took pictures around the house and printed them on white paper. I chose to write the captions while my son looked on, so we could look at the pictures together first and talk about them.  Then he watched me write as I said the words aloud. There really isn’t anything fancy about this homemade book, but I have probably read it a thousand times (first to my son, then to my daughter).

You can also adapt this concept to create other books. One of my friends who runs a family childcare program has adapted this book for her program, taking pictures of things that are ok to go into mouths and things that shouldn’t be mouthed. It is one of the children’s favorite books!

Kai-lee Berke

Kai-leé Berke is a mother of two and a lifelong early childhood educator and author. She is a Senior Advisor with Promise Venture Studio and the former CEO of Teaching Strategies.

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