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M.O.V.E. Tool for communicating with your kids

M.O.V.E. is an acronym for a communication tool to address the immediate, emotional needs of your child. What I like about MOVE is that it gives you something easy to remember and implement when you are having a hard time with your child and can’t think clearly. My son is 2 1/2, and full of emotion, so I have many opportunities to practice MOVE. Here are the four things to keep in mind:

Mirror: When your child is speaking to you, (or screaming), listen to their words, and mirror back what you see or hear your kid doing (neutral observation). Leave out anything inappropriate, and replace with appropriate language using your child’s same message. Your child will feel seen, heard, and experience you as attuned to their needs and experience, which helps their development of self. You don’t have to agree, support, or give into what they want, all you are doing is conveying you’ve heard them.

Over and over: Mirror your child over and over again, until he calms down, and can receive what you say next. *Remember to stay neutral and steer away from praise or criticism.  Parents can set their kids up to expect and learn to seek praise or criticism instead of following their own inner direction. Your child may perceive himself as “bad” when he doesn’t meet your expectation.

Validate: Tell your child you understand their reality. What your child thinks and says has validity. What a powerful message for your kid to grow up internalizing. Everyone wants to be validated, it feels good and calms you down, and you can breath sense of relief. Again, you aren’t giving in, but saying something like “It makes sense to me that you want me to leave you alone and give you space.”

Empathy: Teaching and providing empathy to your kids assists in the development of their emotional self-awareness. Imagine each situation from their viewpoint and the feelings that are coming up for them. If you have a toddler, you can keep it simple like, “I imagine you’re feeling frustrated.” If you have an older kid or teenager, you can elaborate and say something like, “I imagine you’re feeling controlled, like I’m hovering over you, and your personal space is disrespected.”

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