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Tips and tricks for kid-proofing the Christmas tree

By SHARON KENNEDY WYNNETampa Bay Times Published: December 15, 2012 4:00 AM

If this is your first Christmas with a toddler in the house, you have to be dreading how much you'll have to police your precious Christmas treasures from the curious (and clumsy) hands of a toddler.

To be fair to the kids, the room just got a big tree with lights and spinny things on it. Who could resist?

Here's a game plan to keep your toddler from pulling the tree on top of himself or hurling your grandmother's antique ornament across the room:

Secure it: You know those ceiling hooks that your mom hung potted plants from?

Those are a good solution to tipping Christmas trees.

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Use fishing line to secure the top of the tree to the hook. You could also do this mid-tree to a back wall.

Pyramid of greatness: Like the food pyramid, the Christmas tree should have the most rare and important baubles on top, proceeding in descending order to the plastic M&M's ornament that came in a cereal box on the bottom.

Don't kid yourself that you can just teach them not to touch the tree.

Sure, you might, but on the off chance your child has normal human curiosity, keep any valuables out of reach.

Let them touch stuff: Here's where it can get tricky, but you can stave off a fight by actually letting your child touch stuff under certain rules.

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One method that worked well for me was that they could touch anything on the tree they liked but with one finger only.

They can't do too much damage poking at it, and it usually satisfies curiosity.

The same works with decorations such as nativity scenes or Christmas knickknacks.

Sit them in your lap and let them touch it softly as you show them how to gently admire it.

Notice the good behavior: Instead of saying "Don't touch this" and "Don't touch that," 10 times a day notice and praise them when they are near the tree or decorations and they don't get grabby.

Even if they didn't mean to, by "catching" them acting right, and getting praise for it, chances are good you'll see more positive behavior.

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service

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