Teaching Kids How to Express Wants and Needs

Teaching kids how to express their wants and needs is an important part of their emotional and social development. Here are some tips to help you get started:

kids communicate wants vs needs

Encourage Open Communication

Create an environment where children feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of judgment or punishment.

Teach Basic Communication Skills

Help children understand different ways to express themselves. Teach them words and phrases they can use to convey their wants and needs. For example, “I would like…” or “I need help with…”

Encourage Verbal Expression

Always encourage your child to use words to express what they want or need instead of resorting to tantrums or aggressive behavior. Encourage them to articulate their thoughts and feelings by asking open-ended questions and listening attentively.

Teach Active Listening

Do teach kids to listen actively to others by making eye contact, asking questions, and repeating what they have heard to show understanding.

Teach Emotions and Feelings

Help your child identify and label their emotions and feelings. When they can identify and understand how they are feeling, it becomes easier for them to express their wants and needs associated with those emotions. Use age-appropriate language to help them articulate their feelings.

Validate Their Emotions

Let children know that their feelings are important and valid. Acknowledge their emotions and help them label and understand what they are experiencing. This validation helps them develop a sense of self-awareness and builds their confidence in expressing themselves.

Use “I” statements

Encourage children to use “I” statements when expressing their wants and needs, such as “I feel sad when you take my toy without asking” rather than “You always take my toy!”

Practice Problem-Solving

Teach kids how to problem-solve by helping them identify the problem, brainstorm solutions, and choose the best one.

teaching kids how to communicate wants vs needs

Model Positive Communication

Be a positive role model for your child by using respectful language, expressing your own wants and needs clearly, and listening actively to them.

Role-Play and Practice

Engage in role-play scenarios where you can pretend to be the child and they can practice expressing their wants and needs. Provide constructive feedback and guide them on how to improve their communication skills.

Use Visual Aids

For younger children or those who struggle with verbal communication, visual aids can be helpful. Use picture charts or emotion cards to help them identify and express their wants and needs.

Reinforce Assertiveness

Again, encourage your child to be assertive while expressing their wants and needs. Teach them to be polite and respectful but firm in communicating their desires. Help them understand that their thoughts and opinions are valuable.

Encourage Negotiation and Compromise

Teach your child the importance of negotiation and compromise. Help them understand that not all wants and needs can be fulfilled immediately or in the exact way they desire. Encourage them to find common ground and work toward a mutually agreeable solution.

Encourage Self-Advocacy

As always, help children build confidence in advocating for themselves. Encourage them to speak up when they have a need or want, and provide positive reinforcement when they effectively express themselves.

Celebrate Progress

Celebrate your child’s progress as they learn to express themselves effectively, even if they don’t always get it right.

Remember, teaching kids how to express their wants and needs takes time and patience. With your guidance, children will develop the skills they need to communicate effectively and build strong, healthy relationships with others.

Teaching Kids How to Express Wants and Needs

Do you have any other tips on how to teach kids how to express wants and needs?

19 thoughts on “Teaching Kids How to Express Wants and Needs”

  1. My kids do need to be more assertive. They can come across as shy and I always tell them it’s okay to let people know what they want.

  2. I am so agree that we need to work with kids and develop their communication skills and their awareness of themselves!

  3. This is so great and helpful. It’s so important for kids to find their voices and use them powerfully. It’s hard though! They get nervous and shy so easily.

  4. Love this and so many great tips! My daughter too was very shy when she was young and it is good for them to speak up for themselves to teaching assertiveness is a good thing for sure.

  5. I found your article on teaching kids how to express their wants and needs extremely helpful. Your tips and suggestions are practical and easy to implement. I especially liked the emphasis on creating a supportive environment and using positive reinforcement. Thank you for sharing such valuable insights!

  6. These are so important to teach your children how to express themselves. i found this post so helpful and the suggestions were spot on. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  7. Teaching kids to problem solve is huge. As a teacher, I see kids cheating, going online for answers, having parents do their work… problem solving skills are so very necessary. I understand wanting to help kids but not to the point of thwarting their progress. Sometimes you have to struggle to learn to succeed.

  8. It is very important to listen to your kids, and all these many other points you said – if they know they are being heard they will be comfortable to talk to you about their needs and wants. Great post!


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