In childbirth class (many years ago), my husband and I watched a video of a newborn doing the 'breast crawl,' actually making her way independently from her mom's belly to latch on for her first breastfeed.
That is amazing, isn't it? They seem helpless, but they truly aren't. Human beings are born with a strong sense of what they need and how to get it. As parents, we are wise to attune and listen to them.
When our baby turns away from someone who wants to hold him, or when a toddler refuses a food we think she would like, or when a child has trouble falling asleep, we can pay attention. When a child says that he doesn't want to play at someone's house, or a young person complains about being teased or chased, we can listen and even thank them for telling us. If we do this from the time they are small, when our children become tweens and teens, we will be in the habit of trusting them to know things, and they will be in the habit of trusting us to believe them. But we can start at any age.
Listening and attuning is not the same as indulging every whim. When a child doesn't like a food we can respect that preference without whipping up a special meal!
Attuning to our children's innate wisdom, capacity for self-care, and drive to be where they need to be helps them grow up trusting their inner knowing. It builds deep understanding between our children and ourselves. It helps to place us firmly on the same side, as allies rather than adversaries.
As a mom (to 2 teenage sons), wife, and person in the world, I have been on a long imperfect journey. I have made many mistakes, but with mindfulness, emotional reflection, and lots of support I have learned enormously from those mistakes.