Setting boundaries and expectations are so important to a child's developmental process. I often here parents of toddlers ask the question, "When is it a good time to begin to help my child learn what they can and cannot do?" The answer to that question is setting boundaries and expectations should begin during the first year of a child's life. Between the age of 9-11 months, children should have the ability to inhibit their response to no. The word "no" may sound like a negative approach to setting boundaries, but really it's just a quick way to provide feedback for a child who needs help with staying safe and learning acceptable or unacceptable ways of functioning. By setting limits parents help infants and children organize information. During infancy, children are functioning at the sensorimotor stage of cognitive development which means they learn through exploration, trial and error. Children at this stage need assistance with how to appropriately navigate their environment so they can move to the next stage of cognitive development successfully, which includes using mental thoughts processes. Providing boundaries and expectations helps with this process. If a child pulls his mother’s hair to get her attention then it's helpful to the child's learning process to set a boundary such as "no" and provide him/her with an appropriate way to get his mother’s attention. For non-verbal children parents may need to teach them a basic sign or touch to indicate their need for attention. Doing nothing and ignoring a child's inappropriate behavior to gain attention such as pulling hair sends a message that the child must look to other, probably more disruptive ways, to get their needs met. And you miss the opportunity to teach. Adult and peer modeling is important at this stage of development so demonstrate what the child can do to replace the unwanted/inappropriate behavior. Infants also learn through consistency and repetition so it is a must that children be provided a consistent model for what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. So parents, set those healthy boundaries and provide expectations for your children. It will not only be helpful in establishing a healthy relationship with your child, but it will also set a healthy foundation for all future relationships.