04/01/2015 02:42 pm ET Updated Jun 01, 2015

Teaching my Daughter That Her Voice Matters

Becky Tountas

On the afternoon of my daughter's second birthday, we met my friend and her son at the local children's museum. As soon as we walked inside, my daughter's little chin began to quiver and she turned to me and asked to go home. Her voice cracked when she spoke and I could see tears in her eyes.

The day had been understandably overwhelming for her, between a pile of presents and a party in our mommy and me class. She hadn't napped due to the all of the excitement.

"I want to go home," she said again, pulling on my leg. I said we could go home in 30 minutes, but that I first wanted her to at least check out the bubbles with her friend. She was distracted by all of the fun activities at the museum, but after about an hour, she asked to go home again. I said OK, and we headed to the car. It was her birthday, after all.

Now that my daughter is 2 and able to communicate, I try to include her in decision-making whenever possible. There is definitely a balance that needs to be found, as I obviously can't give her everything that she wants. But I can weigh the pros and cons of her request. I can consider her point of view. And most importantly, I can listen.

Two is such an amazing, yet frustrating, age. Sometimes I feel like my whole day is a battle with my daughter. There are times when I deeply regret asking her what she wants for lunch because if I don't have what she asks for, a tantrum ensues. She wants to pick out her clothes each morning and couldn't care less if her favorite shirt is dirty. Reasoning with a 2-year-old can be highly aggravating, but I do it anyway.

I include my daughter in decision-making for a few reasons. The obvious one is that I care about what she wants. She's a person now.

For me, the most important reason is this: I need my daughter to know that her voice matters. I want her to always speak up and express her opinions loud and clear. My desire is that she continue to ask for what she wants because that is the best way to achieve your dreams.

This is why even when I know it will lead to a battle with my daughter, I always ask her opinion. Its worth the fight to make sure that she knows that her voice matters.

In order to teach her that she is worth being heard, I make sure she knows that I am always listening. I accommodate her whenever it is possible and reasonable, and when I can't, I try to explain to her the rationale behind my decision. I don't know what kind of impact my behavior has on her, but my hope is that it reminds her to always, always use her voice. I never want her to forget its power.

Every time I hear her loudly demanding to watch Frozen again or asking for the RED cat shirt, not the white one, I think to myself: Yes, speak up! I silently hope she will always take up space and use her strong voice. I prepare myself for battles with her all day long, but always with proud heart as I silently cheer her on.

This post initially appeared on Becky's Blog.

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