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Motivational Interviewing for Florida Families: Empowering Parents and Children

Parents always seek ways to foster growth, change, and independence in their children. That's why I recently conducted a training session for the community, introducing the principles of Motivational Interviewing (MI) as a tool for Florida families. This blog post explores how MI can be a transformative approach for enhancing family dynamics. Over the past few sessions, held at locations including SPC College and the Boys and Girls Club, we've shared these tools not only with parents but also with police officers, teachers, and even children, spreading valuable skills that are often reserved for professionals.

What is Motivational Interviewing?

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a method that helps people resolve ambivalent feelings and insecurities to find the internal motivation they need to change their behavior. It is a practical, empathetic, and short-term process that acknowledges the complexity of human nature and aims to overcome the barriers to change.

The Science Behind MI

Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of motivational interviewing, with over 1,000 controlled trials showing that MI is twice as likely to help individuals reach full agreement than standard mediation techniques. In settings where participants interacted with an empathetic, non-judgmental, and attentive listener, they were less anxious and defensive, which encouraged them to explore their thoughts more deeply and recognize nuances in their feelings.

Empowering Youth Through Affirmations and Choices

One of the foundational elements of Motivational Interviewing is empowering youth by affirming their capabilities and offering them choices within set boundaries. This approach not only respects their growing need for independence but also enhances their decision-making skills.

  • The Power of Affirmations: Regularly using affirmations can significantly boost a child’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. For instance, during one of our sessions in Pinellas County, a parent shared how saying “You’re so brave for trying something new today!” transformed their morning routine from a battle to a bonding experience.

  • Providing Choices: Giving children choices helps them feel empowered and demonstrates that their opinions are valued. This can be as simple as letting them choose their outfit for the day or deciding what snack to have. A father from Pasco County mentioned how allowing his daughter to choose her weekend activities led her to pursue horseback riding, which she passionately continues.

  • Encouraging Ownership: When children are given the opportunity to make choices, they naturally take more ownership of those decisions and their consequences. This fosters a sense of responsibility and builds confidence. A mother at the Boys and Girls Club workshop noted that her son's initiative to manage his homework and leisure time improved dramatically after he started planning his own schedule.

  • Balancing Guidance with Freedom: It’s crucial to find the right balance between providing guidance and allowing freedom. This helps children feel supported yet free to explore their paths. During a virtual session, a parent recounted how stepping back allowed her child to develop problem-solving skills, which led to a significant boost in confidence when he navigated a school project on his own.


Motivational Interviewing is not just a set of techniques but a way of being with your family. By practicing MI, parents can create a nurturing environment that encourages growth, change, and independence in their children, much like giving a plant the soil, water, and sunshine it needs to grow toward the light.

Consider how you might implement these MI techniques in your daily interactions with your family. If you’re interested in learning more about Motivational Interviewing or bringing a training session to your community, please reach out to me at

For a deeper dive into these topics, be sure to check out my new book on Motivational Interviewing for families, available now on Amazon. This blog is for anyone who didn't get a chance to attend the training and is interested in empowering their family dynamics.


*Statements on this blog reflect the author's personal opinions and do not represent any other person, company, or organization. The purpose of this blog is to provide general knowledge and to raise awareness of tools, techniques, people, and organizations that bring about positive change. The reader is strongly encouraged to perform independent research about the topics discussed.

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