The First Time You Say "No" to Your Baby

12 to 24 Months

Around this age, your child's communication skills are coming along, so you can start explaining basic rules (like don't pull kitty's tail) and begin using the word "no," but only in serious situations. Cristina Soto, of New York City, learned early on that if kids hear "no" too often, they begin to tune it out. "Every time my daughter Sonia got near an outlet, I'd say 'Aah aaah!'" says Soto. "After a while, she'd cruise over to an outlet and say, 'Aah aaah!' to me."

Your child's physical skills are coming into play too. When your tot begins walking, he'll be thrilled with his newfound independence -- and frustrated that he can't do all the things he wants to. Enter the age of tantrums. Yes, they're annoying, especially when all of Wal-Mart is staring at you, but they're a part of growing up and not a cue for harsh discipline, such as taking away a privilege. Some kids calm down through distraction; others need a hug. But if a tantrum is lengthy, remove your child from the situation until he's calm, explaining, "We can't stay in the store if you're screaming."

Hitting and biting are two more joyful side effects of your toddler's inability to effectively communicate. If this sounds familiar, tell your child what not to do and redirect him toward a more appropriate activity. If your child hits you because you've interrupted his play for a diaper change, say, "We don't hit, it hurts," and give him a toy he can play with while you change him.

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