The young toddler is a fascinating creature. He dashes from one place to another without regard for his safety or your desire to just sit and rest for a bit. He wants to explore, and often that exploration involves a bit of trouble. Sometimes you wonder if you’ll ever say anything besides, “No-no!”
Telling your child no is a rather tricky business. You want your child to explore and try new things – this is how he learns, after all. But at the same time, you want your child to be safe, and helping him learn what is off limits and what is dangerous is absolutely essential. Your goal, however, should be to tell him no as little as possible. That doesn’t mean you should let him get away with things that are dangerous or get into things you want him out of, but you should put his needs above your own as much as possible at this stage.
Your child wants to run and explore. So give him a space to do exactly that. Remove things that are fragile and put up gates to keep him in his safe space. Alternate the toys and household items (such as spoons and measuring cups) you bring into his safe area to play with to help keep his interest. The larger space you can create that is considered safe for him, the longer he’ll be able to stay interested and active in a given activity.
Letting him roam (safely) around your downstairs also lets him learn how to be independent. Keeping him right under foot all the time can be stifling for him and teach him that he must be by your side constantly – a good lesson for the grocery store, but not for life overall. Let him wander from one room to another and give him a few minutes before you casually follow. If a particular room isn’t safe, simply shut the door. A door handle child proofing device will keep it closed just a bit longer.
You should also leave at least one cabinet open for your child to dig through. Usually parents choose a cabinet full of pots and pans or plastic containers. Toddlers love to pull all of these interesting items out and bang on them from time to time. Messes are very much a part of early childhood, after all. Put safety latches on any cabinets that contain glass or sharp items, however. The same is true with drawers. Remove breakables and dangerous items from drawers your child can reach into. Replace these items with fun things your child can discover when he opens the drawer to see what’s inside. Rotate items through the drawers to give your child something new to discover each time he peeks.
Of course, you aren’t the only one saying “no” these days. Your toddler is likely saying the word or shaking his head far more than you’d like to hear from his adorable mouth. Most of this is simply his age and he’s learning to express his own opinion. Being disagreeable about something is always more fun than agreeing, after all. By limiting your own negative outbursts, you’ll hopefully notice fewer shakes of his head as well.
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