My 2 year old has always been a great listener but it seems now that she wants more freedom and I don't want to always be saying "no" but if its something thats not safe I want her to listen. What are some effective ways to discipline her so when it's important, she is a good listener.
We are advocates of gentle discipline here on the Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond forum. There is now a huge amount of research backing this up and it really is the only effective way of helping your child to long-term show appropriate behaviour by focusing on connection (i.e. the relationship) rather than correction.
Dr. Sears, the attachment parenting doctor, says on this topic:
'Discipline is more about building the right relationship with your child than using the right techniques. You want to put into place a guidance system that keeps the child in check at age four and keeps his behavior on track at age forty, and you want this system to be integrated into the child's whole personality, a part of him or her.'
You can read more practical ideas about gentle discipline from Dr. Sears here. I agree with Dr. Sears - the best way to build respect with your daughter is to focus on your relationship rather than her actions.
Remember at age 2 children are just learning to explore the world and it is natural and normal for them to push boundaries more. Of course, this doesn't mean that you let them do unsafe things but you can remove them from risky activities in a respectful way. Children of this age are also easily distracted and so you need to make sure you come down to their level and gently get their attention before talking to them.
I can't put it better than the author Peggy O'Mara, who writes:
'Effective discipline is based on loving guidance. It is based on the belief that children are born innately good and that our role as parents is to nurture their spirits as they learn about limits and boundaries, rather than to curb their tendencies toward wrongdoing. Effective discipline presumes that children have reasons for their behaviour and that cooperation can be engaged to solve shared problems.'
Have a look at Little Hearts Gentle Parenting - it is an excellent resource on this topic.