I have a 2 year old who is openly defiant. How do you discipline him to recognize potentially dangerous situations (ie hillsides, roads)?

—A Worried Dad.

Worried Dad,

You have cause to be vigilant. Your 2 year old is following inner dictates right now that supersede his need to obey you. These include his need to be curious and to explore and his need to openly defy you to separate his ego from yours. Add to this that at 2 years he is “pre logic”, and so doesn’t perceive danger. This is probably the most dangerous time of his life and requires you to be on guard his entire waking hours.

Face facts, your child is not safe and needs constant supervision. It will take another year and a half to two years before he perceives safety and danger. Keep talking about it though and make sure to take time for training that educates without instilling fear. Try a simple, “That is not safe, do _____instead.” Be sure to provide alternate experiences that fill his need to explore, climb, etc. in safe, regulated settings. Toddlers tell us through their actions what activities they need. Watch and provide those experiences.

The bottom line: In all likelihood your child will not be safe around roads and hillsides until 7 to 8 years.