Among many other things, parenthood inherently carries a significant responsibility for guiding the child’s unruly behavior into positive outlets. This is important not only for the child to become a functional and productive adult in society, but also to engage the child’s potential to find success and fulfillment. It is no small order for parents to find a way to allow their child to develop freely and independently, while also helping them adhere to societal expectations and develop a sense of morals and ethics that will ensure fewer barriers of resistance in life.
One way parents must accomplish this is to strike the appropriate balance for the use of the word, “No.” Before age two, children have little to no self control over their impulses, so expecting automatic compliance at this point would be futile for the parent. Instead, during toddlerhood and the early childhood years, we focus on gentle correction and redirecting.
Allowing safe exploration and natural consequences to occur is a great way for a child to experience their own understanding of the limits of their world. This direct process of learning should be encouraged as much as possible while the parent keeps an ever observant attention, so that they can intervene when necessary to keep the child safe.
Limiting the use of the word “no” or other corrective statements with negative connotation is an important key for parents to avoid triggering power struggles. The imposition of the word is enough for some children to automatically defy the direction in order to assert their own independence. Children at this age are still developing their autonomy and being told “no” can feel arbitrarily limiting to this process. Especially if this occurs frequently enough, the child may develop an associative pattern for how they respond, instead of thinking through individual