Our 1 1/2 year old son has a room full of toys. All of them are age appropriate. We play with him all the time with different toys and we introduce him to new things every week. Whenever we stop playing with him (like when we are cooking dinner) he insists on climbing up on the counter. We take him off and he repeats it again and again. It’s not a fun game. We’ve given him a cabinet full of plastic kitchen toys. But he only wants to do what we are doing. He doesn’t like playing with toys if we aren’t doing it with him. It makes it tough to get necessary chores done. Any thoughts?
I understand your frustration. First of all, always think of safety first. Kitchen counters whether or not cooking is going on, are not safe places for children to play. Actually kitchens, with hot liquids and things being dropped are not safe places for kids, period. Since taking your son off the counter seems to have turned into a game for him, you will need to find something else to do that works.
I believe in giving children choices, even young children. I would give your son the choice to play outside of the kitchen where he can see you, or play in his room. So first, you give him the choice. “Do you want to play here where you can see me, you can’t be in the kitchen, and if you try to come into the kitchen, I will take you to your room. You decide where you want to play?” If he steps into the kitchen, you say, “I see you have decided to play in your room.” Then pick him up and put him in his room. If he comes out, remind him that he is not to come into the kitchen. He will keep trying to see if you mean what you say for the first day, so chose a day to start doing this with him when you don’t have a lot to do in the kitchen. Make sure that you don’t talk to your son about why he should stay out of the kitchen or when you take him to his room. When you take him to his room don’t show any frustration or anger. He must not see that you feel anything but relaxed.
Keep in mind that if you are consistent, meaning you always do this every time, it will work. If you only do it sometimes, you will confuse your son, and he will never know what you want him to do.