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With my son, explaining helped a lot, even at that age. He is 2 now and when I tell him that there are cars and that he must stay close to me he understands. I did have to tell him once that they could hurt him if he ran into the street and he is very careful not to now. He still loves running around when it is safe to do so.
Today we were in a big parking lot and he was looking around saying that there are cars coming, waiting for the go ahead. Of course I still have to pay close attention, but he knows why he needs to stop when I tell him so. Hope this helps at all.
On another note, I remember when my son was one, and I said 'no' the first time as he was crawling to an outlet. He cracked up so hard, and for some time we played the 'no' game, him pretending to crawl to the outlet, me saying 'no' and him falling over for laughter. All the outlets in my house are covered of course.
Good luck!
 
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