There are times when one has to think "out of the box" with a 12-month-old child, or a 12-year-old child, or for that matter, an adult, in order to figure out what it is he/she wants.
A while ago I had occasion to walk past the Parents Room when a delightful little girl, of the 12-month-old variety, caught my eye. I made my way into the room, sprawled myself on the floor within googling distance of her, and attempted to be recognized. She was intent on completing one of those bulky wooden puzzles with mom coaching her from the side, and it took a little time for her to pay me heed. Once we locked in eye contact, however, she made my day with a beautiful smile. This invited me to begin some animated conversation.
Not long (maybe 20 seconds) into our chatter, my little friend’s face crinkled into fear and she began to cry and withdraw from my presence. Flummoxed, I backed off and said to her mother, "I guess she doesn’t like bow ties." I was about to make my exit when I noticed that the girl’s left hand was tucked under a puzzle piece, her leg was pushing down on the piece, and her tiny fingers were being pinched. Ouch! Once I repositioned her leg and freed her captured hand, she smiled, we reconnected, and I decided I would continue to wear bow ties. She wanted her hand to be free from pain.
It is a perpetual challenge to figure out what children want. This can be especially so with the 12-year-old, emerging adolescent. There are several books that I have relied upon when I am attempting to understand young teens, and I recommend them highly to you. Anthony E. Wolf’s Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?, and Laura Sessions Steppe’s Our Last Best Shot: Guiding Our Children Through Early Adolescence are both must-reads. For reading matter pertaining to children of other ages, I suggest you talk to your child's program/division head.
Unfortunately, I have no books or methods to recommend for adult conundrums. . . in that area, I discover new challenges every day!