When a child takes the first step on his or her own, a new phase in development begins. At this stage children are now free to roam around their world. It is a time for active exploration of their environment. Language development takes major leaps which leads to learning the names of objects of interest, the ability to ask for things and as they discover their independent nature, yes, they develop the ability to say “NO!”.
During this developmental stage, a major challenge is developing what psychologists call emotional regulation. “Meltdowns” are common during this period but parents can use the bond developed during infancy to help the child learn to modulate their emotional expression and begin to grasp the difficult concept of delay of gratification. While they instinctively seem to be able to say “NO” toddlers also need help in learning how to accept “No” from others.
This is also a stage of rapid physical and intellectual development preparing these children for starting school which includes interacting cooperatively with peers while at the same time being able to compete physically and intellectually. A child’s parent is in the position to be a coach providing just the right combination of encouragement, support and guidance. Parents also need to serve as primary teacher for the mastery of basic learning skills and encourage active discussion and experimentation of new concepts and skills.