One of the first female psychoanalysts who worked with children in Europe, Francoise Dolto, used a powerful metaphor for the importance of limits for young children. She suggested to think of your child as a growing plant who needs pruning in order to continue to grow strong and healthy. If you do not prune your plants, they stop growing and eventually start to decay. The same is true for young children - they need guidance, limit setting and encouragement in order to develop as healthy and skillful young people. Limits provide a sense of security and safety, decrease anxiety and open room for creativity and self expression. So:
Do say “No.” One of the most important limits for your toddler is to learn to keep him/herself and other people safe, i.e. not to hurt themselves or others.