When I had my first child, I used to take an approach that I am shy to tell when I said no to her. This is what happened.
When my daughter did something that she’s not supposed to, for example playing with a sharp object, drawers, or switches, I’d beat her hand mildly and say “no” to her, while trying to make a serious look at the same time.
My friend once told me if I do that the message that is getting across to a child is the RIGHT thing to do when someone does something WRONG is to beat or punish.
(Wasn’t that what our parents did to us?)
Now with my second son into toddlerhood, he’s more curious than anyone else. Touching and exploring seem to be in his job scope. But I approach this differently this time.
When he touches things that he’s not supposed to touch, I will tell him this is not something he can play with (of course, no violence involved but be firm). Alternatively, I will give him another option.
Take for example when he wants to grab the TV remote and land his little fingers on the buttons while I’m watching Desperate Housewives, I will tell him “no” and this is not a toy that he can play with. To teach him to differentiate, I’ll grab a soft toy and show him that he can play with that instead.
Did it work on the first time? Of course not. He cried as though he didn’t care what I said.
But after a few attempts of showing, telling and teaching him what he can grab and play, he seems to be getting the message recently. He doesn’t cry anymore when he doesn’t get what he wants except for some grumbling. But after that, he’ll forget what he wants in the first place.
It simply works. You don’t need to resort to beating (I mean mild) your child’s little hand to tell him “no.” A little diplomatic communication will do the trick.
Now why don’t you try it yourself?