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I sympathize as all my kids are like this. ALL my kids. I've got the world's biggest 3 year old (I legit got locking rolling carts because at 18 months he could casually reach into the knife drawer and pull out a butcher's knife in one hand and a santoku knife in the other) and 2 year old twin climber/acrobats.
I've got no solution for cupboards, because, yeah. For things like rooms I don't want them in, including the bathroom, I'm using these: door monkeys. Because our downstairs is open concept, I've legit had a pantry shed built and am in the process of inventorying and moving everything and there's a padlock on the door. For the rest, door monkeys and baby gates.
I feel for you. You also have to get one of these. Put it on his door so he can’t get out and wander around. I used one for my son who was also prone to sneaking around the house in the early morning and it worked wonders.
If you’re not opposed to locking in- when my not yet potty trained toddler figured out how to unlock and open his door we got a door monkey off Amazon and it’s changed our lives. DOOR MONKEY Door Lock & Pinch Guard - Safety Door Lock For Kids - Baby Proof Door Lock For Bedrooms, Bathrooms & Kitchens - Easy, Convenient & Simple To Install - Very Portable - Great For Dogs & Cats [link]
So, my three year old is similar. We ended up using a door monkey. [link]
We practiced with it in the daytime with her dolls. We let her choose if she wanted it open or closed at bed time she chooses "open" often. We explained that if she left one time, we would give cuddles but then we'd use the monkey and she'd have to go to sleep.
It works. She knows it's locked now and we open it before we go to bed so she can come find us in the middle of the night if needed. Maybe an alternative to medicine?
For parents to toddlers, and pets: DOOR MONKEY Door Lock & Pinch Guard - Safety Door Lock For Kids - Baby Proof Door Lock For Bedrooms, Bathrooms & Kitchens - Easy, Convenient & Simple [link]
I have these child locks that I love. We have no round doorknobs to use the regular knob child locks. I have another brand of this that is more permanently installed but I can't find it online anymore. Door Monkey, Childproof Door Lock & Pinch Guard [link]
They are far too young to understand any form of punishment so definite no on the spanking. Switch them to a mattress on the floor, push the couch so the back of it is against the wall, babyproof like mad. Add safety latches to furniture and tvs to secure it against the wall. Use things like door monkey to keep them in or out of rooms safely. Things that can not be child proof need to be removed from the room or they need to be disallowed into the area.
Monkey locks are awesome.
Door Monkey Door Lock and Pinch Guard [link]
They leave the door open an inch or so, so you can hear your kid if they are asking for you. Easy to open from either side of the door of you can reach it. I personally don't like the gate at the top of the stairs. At some point your kid will try to climb over that gate.
My four-year-old started doing this and he started complaining that he didn't like the dark in this room. But for him that's a stall tactic. Recently we started keeping the lights in the hallway and other close areas on, but explained to him that every time he comes out of his room we will turn off one light. It has worked out very well.
Also: these are awesome. I don't use it anymore, but it was very helpful when my kids were younger for bedrooms, closets, pantries, etc.
If you would be open to using a door lock, I've bought this product 5 times from Amazon. The only thing you'd need to be careful of is putting it up high enough that he can't climb up to unlatch it. But it leaves about a 2" gap in the door open.
I had an older metal gate that required 2 hands to open, but they don't sell it anymore. This gate has the same type of lock, but the wooden version was a piece of crap.
Edited because reading comprehension is hard on the weekends.
I’m leaning towards a gate outside the door or this. I wish you could close the door all the way, but at least you can get out from inside (if you can reach it).
These work great and are removable, [link]
Consider this magical device known as a door monkey
I use this.
Keeps the door cracked so you can hear if anything is really wrong.
Kid goes to sleep with no issue when fighting gets nowhere.
3 is a REALLY hard age. It's completely normal to feel overwhelmed by trying to parent, especially a child who has extra challenges from a health problem. A few things:
You need to make sure that you're taking care of yourself. Other people have mentioned the possibility of this triggering your own mental health issue. When my health issues were addressed, it made parenting SO much easier. You also need breaks and a way to remove yourself from situations where you are overwhelmed. We used these: [link] to keep our son in his room, where he was safe. Because of how it latches, it's still easy to hear if something goes wrong, but doesn't allow them to wander around/get into dangerous things. Obviously you can't just lock your child in their room for hours at a time. But if you're loosing control of your own emotions, 10 minutes of being in their room is a lot healthier than you losing it on them.
It might help to see a therapist. They can give you tools to help calm down.
This is the big thing that I wish I knew when my oldest son was three. It's okay that your kid is out of control. You cannot control him. You cannot force him to behave. And he's not capable of controlling himself yet either. That means that there are going to be a LOT of times where he's out of control. That can feel overwhelming and scary, but it is NORMAL and there isn't anything that you need to do to "fix" it. Keep communicating your expectations and just hang on. He will mature. His ability to control himself will improve. He won't behave this way when he's 14. His misbehavior doesn't mean that you're a bad parent.
With all that said. Don't feed the emotions. If he's melting down, put consequences on hold. Adding time outs, or losing privileges, or spanking him isn't going to help things. It's only going to add anxiety for him and you and extend the problem. He feels out of control and doesn't know how to change that. More consequences for not doing something he doesn't know how to do aren't going to help. Reset your expectations to things that you think both of you can accomplish. Fighting over cleaning up toys? Decide that you'll come back to the toys and go get a drink instead. Is he melting down because he wants a snack and it's an hour until dinner? Get out of the kitchen and start a bath. (Add food coloring for extra distraction.) Are you trying to do grocery shopping and he's throwing a fit? Get the stuff you need for dinner and head home. Parenting a 3 year old requires a LOT of flexibility and that's not always a part of a parent's personality.
Last suggestion. If you can afford it, find a drop off day care that will allow you a little time away. That way, every Tuesday at 10 (or whatever time works for you) you can drop off littlenotbeingmyself#1 and put littlenotbeingmyself#2 in the running stroller and do that thing that you love. There have been times where I've felt like the fact that I'm a stay at home parent means that I should ALWAYS be watching them. And I've discovered that's not healthy for any of us. Hang in there. It does, eventually, get easier.
Door Monkey is the way to go. Hooks onto door in 1 second, is super easy to use.
We used monkey locks for our basement steps, kept it closed enough, wasn't permanent, and kept it pinch free
YES - my son is a climber, a runner, and loves to get into everything. Babyproofing made my life so much calmer. Here's some of my favorite finds.
Door Monkey - fits on standard (not beveled) door frames, installs in 1 second, and works fantastic as both a pinch guard and to prevent entry/exit. Its also nice on bedroom doors which have locks on them, as I'd get locked out of multiple rooms otherwise as my son knows how to activate those locks.
flip lock - for the front door, as my kid figured out how to move a chair to the front door and unlock it and get outside. Easy to install high up, looks nice, cheap, and is easy to work.
Baby fence - put this around the stuff you want to keep baby out of! Things such as entertainment centers and computer desks can be surrounded by this fence.
magnetic locks - for those drawers that you don't want any possible entry into, i.e. drawers with money. Very solid lock.
Latches - for things that can't be drilled into/that you don't want to drill into. You can lock the bottom drawer of the stove, the dishwasher, regular drawers, etc with this. Easy to install; I don't know how easy to remove.
If it is a door that can be left ajar- we like the Door Monkey.
What about one of these things for her door? It'd at least keep her in her room for the night.
I like your flair by the way
Two words: Door Monkey
We're in that stage now, and Door Monkey has been awesome! Don't need to drill to install and easy to use. I have it on my closets.
If you dont' want to lose the knob, look into one of these....
How about something like this? [link]
Or just go to your local Babies R Us. There's tons of products out there designed to keep kids from opening doors they're not supposed to, even for lever handles like you have. I'm sure the same things will work for a cat.
That's a good idea!
I might try this out? [link]
When I've lost my mind and need a break I'll just bungie the door shut but not often
We use a door monkey. It is really great.
We showed our kiddo how it works and talked about it in the daytime. We used it with kiddo's stuffed animals and had one parent pretend to be the animal and kiddo pretend to be the parent putting stuffed animal to bed.
At naptime and at night, kiddo gets one chance to choose to have the door open before going to bed. If kiddo comes out, I usually say "Oh! You came to ask me to use the door monkey!" And then we go back to the bedroom, I say goodnight and close the door until I go to bed. It's undone so in the morning, kiddo can come find me.