Flashback to your childhood and recall what your parents would say to you if you were about to do something that could cause harm to yourself, like climb out of the crib or venture into the street. It was usually a resounding, “No!” They were trying to protect you, and you may or may not have known it then but it was for your own good. Today, it seems children rarely hear the word no.
Some parents, when put to the test, will say they want their child to figure it out, or they don’t want to set too many limits (like what they had). However, a two-, three- or four-year old isn’t yet able to set his or her own limits. Very important to effective parenting is understanding where your child is developmentally, and why they need you to do it for them. As much as you love and want the best for your child, the reality is they need you to guide them safely from one developmental stage to the next. So guide them safely, set limits (and keep them!) and they will love you for it later. Trust me, kids need parents not just another friend.