Everyday Parenting: Acknowledging Their Wants

This post is part of a series documenting everyday respectful parenting moments. Reading real life parenting examples inspires me. I also find it helpful to look back on situations and think about what went well or what didn’t. Maybe you will too!

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Parenting: Acknowledging Their Wants

Lately my 20 month old daughter has been getting frustrated when there’s something she can’t do. It’s hard being the little one and wanting to keep up with your big sisters! She also has a new baby sister so is dealing with everything that comes with that and Mummy not being able to do things instantly anymore. I’ve been finding it hard to communicate with her about it. Setting limits often ends up in lots of frustration and tears from her. Until I realised one thing I was missing! Acknowledging her wants.

I’d been out of practice! With my older girls being 6 and 4 years old now it is easy to communicate with them. But Miss 20 months is in that stage where she knows what she wants, can say a lot of words, but still sometimes can not get her point across. She needs to know when I understand what she’s saying, and I wasn’t giving her that. Instead I was going straight to trying to tell her why she couldn’t do what she wanted at that particular moment. This meant she kept repeating what she wanted, getting more and more frustrated. She couldn’t listen to what I was saying, or move on from that moment, because she didn’t feel that I had heard her yet. The solution was really simple when I realised. Here’s what happened.

Miss 6 was on the phone to her Nanna.

Miss 1: ‘Phone! Phone! Nanna!’

Me: ‘You can’t have the phone right now, your sister is using it’.

Miss 1: ‘No! Phone! Nanna!’ (Now trying to grab the phone)

Me: ‘Not yet, your sister is using the phone.’

Miss 1: (now crying and becoming more frustrated) ‘PHONE! PHONE! Get it!’

Me: (getting down on her level and holding her) ‘You want the phone. You want to talk to Nanna. Your sister is on the phone right now. You can have a turn next’.

Miss 1: (calming down instantly) ‘Nanna’.

Me: Yes, you really want to talk to Nanna. You can talk next.

She then waited patiently and calmly for her turn.

Parenting: Acknowledging Their Wants

It was so simple that I’m not sure why I hadn’t realised what I was doing sooner. All she needed was to know she had been heard. When I had acknowledged what she wanted, she was more easily able to move forward and listen to what I was saying.

Communicating with toddlers is sometimes hard work! It must be so frustrating for them not to be able to communicate everything they want while they’re still developing their vocabulary. Sometimes just acknowledging what they’ve said and repeating it back to them really helps.

20 thoughts on “Everyday Parenting: Acknowledging Their Wants

  1. Thank you so much for sharing! As I was reading I realized that this is also what my five year old needs too. He often repeats things and I find I just respond by saying “I heard you”. I’m going to try your approach instead.

  2. What a cutie! I have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. My 1-year-old is trying to keep up with his sister and reacts the same way as your little one. I learned this approach in college through my child development classes, but had not used it yet with my son. Thank you for the reminder!

  3. I love this post. It’s so true, we often forget that with toddlers- they are small humans with the exact same set of needs as adults (it’s just filtered differently from their knowledge base). They are just like us: their desire to be heard is innate and needs validated….and the small stuff is so important to them.Thank you for sharing!

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