13 - 15 Months

6 phrases to say to your toddler instead of ‘Be careful!’

Toddler learning to walk down the stairs

“Be careful” is often the first thing you might say when your toddler starts crawling down stairs or reaches out to touch an unfamiliar dog. The problem is, those words have little meaning for toddlers. While the message seems clear to an adult, it isn’t specific enough for a young child to act on. Directly telling them what you want them to do is more effective.

The occasional “Be careful!” isn’t harmful, but it’s better to give your child clear, explicit directions. For example, you might say:

  1. “Look up” or “Stay low” when they’re about to hit their head 
  2. “Feet first” if they’re preparing to go down something (like stairs) head first
  3. “Stay still” if there’s a bee nearby or you otherwise want them to stop (if you say “Stop,” they likely won’t know exactly what you want them to stop doing)
  4. “Ouch!” as you point to a cup of hot coffee  
  5. “Go slow” if you’re worried they’re moving too quickly
  6. “Wave and say, ‘Hi’” if they’re approaching an unknown dog

How to handle dangerous situations

When your toddler is doing or about to do something that could really hurt them, like running toward the street, call out with a firm “Stay still!” or “Ouch!” You can also say, “No!” but try to reserve it for times like these rather than everyday actions that aren’t imminently dangerous.


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Posted in: 13 - 15 Months, 16 - 18 Months, 19 - 21 Months, 22 - 24 Months, Parent Life, Safety, Lovevery App, Language Development, Child Development

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