Street safety and crossing the road with a two-year old

PSP parents share what they know about crossing the steet with a toddler.

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Original poster:

"Today on 5th Ave my husband was squatting down speaking to our two year old about his refusal to hold hands crossing the street when a woman approached him and said "you know he is too young to understand that" she said his brain is "not ready."
So I wanted to ask - is it unreasonable to expect a just-turned-two year old to be able to hold hands when crossing the street? Once we get to the other side he usually runs ahead and stays on the sidewalk but on this occasion he was refusing to hold hands as we crossed - hence the chat. Are we expecting too much?"




It is crucial to establish mindful habits:

"He doesn't have to clearly understand the reasons why he must do it but ....he just has to do it every single time you cross so it becomes habit... whether he wants to or not!"

"He may not fully "understand" it, but at this point you can and should make it into a habit. Just like brushing teeth."

"I don't know if my kids fully comprehended that but I made it mandatory for them to hold my hand when crossing the street plus we would even hold hands on the sidewalk so in the end it became habit."

"Giving the talk is good but carry him to cross until he understands or accepts to hold hands while crossing."

"Holding the limit is fine, and it's either "you can hold my hand, or sit in stroller, or I will have to carry you (and I'm carrying a lot of things so if I have to carry you it might not be comfortable for you).  With my kids when it came to car safety when crossing streets I was very literal. I kept reiterating ' if you don't hold my hand a car can hit you and you will get very hurt.'"


Talk about safety issues:

"I don't think a 2-year-old is too young to hold hands while crossing the street. We have 21-month-old twins and one of them is great at holding our hand while crossing. The other hates holding our hands, but very much understands the concept of stopping at the curb and waiting for us to cross. So, that's a sample of 2 that younger than 2 is not too early to start these important lessons."

"Gotta love parenting advice delivered unsolicited in the middle of the street! I am on your team with this one. My daughter is about to turn two. She does not understand "danger" and she definitely doesn't understand "why" she has to do certain things, but she DOES know rules and patterns. (When we put on pajamas, it's time for bed. When we cross the street, we hold hands. ) She also repeats everything she hears, so saying something out loud helps a lot to help create the habit. Your child is growing up a city kid, and with another one on the way, it's certainly time to start to make this rule second nature. Eventually they'll understand why this is important, but for now I think it's important to ingrain the routine of crossing the street to hold hands and talking about it each time helps. Totally think you and your husband have the right instinct on this."

"Even if she doesn't fully "get it", it's also about the bond of communication and the trust your husband is building with your child as a protector and someone who knows how to keep him/her safe."

"Kids are processing everything you say...what is the harm of teaching a child something like street crossing safety as early as possible."


This is a more an issue of discipline and boundary testing:

"We have an almost 3-year-old, and I remember when he newly turned 2, it was a tough time for boundary testing and power struggles. Plus, when he got tired, he would act all goofy and give us noodle legs. So yes, while he cognitively understood the concept of holding hands while crossing the street, and would often do it, we couldn't count on it all the time, especially on the way home for naptime or at the end of the day. What helped was to have a "release word" once we reached the other side - we say "all clear!" which made it kind of a fun game, and let him know that it's safe to let go of our hands if he wants to. It took a lot of practicing, regressions, and patience."

"You are not expecting too much. My 17 month old is already learning to hold hands when crossing the street with limited success. When she refuses, we just pick her up and carry her. It sound like your son has been holding hands and just didn't want to this time because.... two-year-olds. Talking to him about why he needs to hold hands and being consistent with the expectation is perfectly age appropriate for a two year old. Half the of the equation is simply habit and repetition at that age. Of course, that doesn't mean he'll actually do it every time..."

"Give a choice - you can hold my hand or I can carry you, and repeat it at every intersection (or say "thank you for holding my hand to cross the street" when he does it automatically)."

"Some two year olds can talk through "discipline" and some aren't ready to. But they are certainly ready to have limits put in place (holding hands in the street) and consistent consequences (if you don't hands we have to pick you up, or can't cross the street, or whatever you decide."


Useful resources:

"Books written for kids can really help explain things well in a way they understand due to the visual images - Kristofur Kitty ."



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