The Moving Center

Should my child be doing this?

parent child with special needs

During our workshop in Germany we guided caregivers to first connect to their embodied experience of self, and then explore new ways to connect with the child. 

When we allow the time and space each of us needs to experience life more fully, we support potent learning in ourselves and in our children. 

One topic that we discussed was the difference between accurate and attuned feedback about what a child is doing vs. trying to make the child do what we think they should do. 

parent child with special needs

At The Moving Center we are concerned with supporting the whole child, including their sense of agency as an empowered, autonomous and self-expressed individual. When we stop forcing or correcting we are not giving up on the child’s ability to change, we are acknowledging they are their own person, we are creating a new space for them to grow into. 

One workshop participant asked what she can do when she wants to make her son stop a certain behavior? Together we played and explored the possibility of moving away from “managing” his behavior, towards a new way of relating, based on engaging with him, reflecting what he is doing, and empowering him to grow in his ability to express himself and his ideas. We shared a few ideas for those moments when you find yourself in a similar situation or state of mind with your child.

parent child with special needs
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When you notice yourself wanting to make your child do something, try slowing down and getting curious. What is your child doing at this moment? What do you imagine they are sensing or thinking? Imagine you did try to force them. How might they respond, how might they sense themselves? Is there some other way?

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For a few moments can you let go of the specific outcome, and reflect to them something specific about what is happening now? Rather than using directive language like, “Listen to me when I talk to you!” use descriptive language, i.e. “I’m talking to you, and I’m not sure if you hear me. I see you are looking out the window, and your hand is touching your bear.” When you notice yourself wanting to make your child do something, try slowing down and getting curious. What is your child doing at this moment? What do you imagine they are sensing or thinking? Imagine you did try to force them. How might they respond, how might they sense themselves? Is there some other way?

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To shift from managing to engaging, look for what feelings may be underneath your child’s behavior. Anger, frustration, and outward-focused feelings are usually an emotional defense for the softer more vulnerable underlying emotions like loneliness and helplessness.

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Being attentive to your own state of mind, your own thoughts, movements and emotions when you are interacting with your child is an important step to connecting to your child and opening up the brain for potent learning.

Try to apply this way of thinking next time you interact with your child and please share your experience or send us any questions that occur to you during this process.

With love, Matty, Eytan and Andrea.

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