Parenting is tough! Here is a communication tool, called M.O.V.E., to address the immediate, emotional needs of your child. What I like about M.O.V.E. 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. I have many opportunities to practice M.O.V.E. with my kids and so will you. Here are the four components:
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.
2. Over and over
Mirror your child over and over again, until he calms down, has no more to say, and is able to then hear you. Maintain a neutral tone when mirroring. Neutral mirroring allows your child to follow their own inner direction of their experience and feelings. Watch your judgement on what they are expressing to you, as your child may perceive himself as “bad” when he doesn’t meet your expectations.
Tell your child you understand their reality, and 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, and you are not agreeing, you are just saying they make sense. For example, “It makes so much sense to me that you feel angry with me that I won’t let you go to the party, especially because all of your friends will be there.”
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.”