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Non Violent Communication and parenting

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 

This is a brief introduction to Non Violent Communication (NVC) which is also known as Compassionate Communication, and how you can use it in parenting, as well as, in discipline. At the end I will provide links to some books that I have found very helpful for my understanding and application of NVC, and which will explain it better than I can.  I would be happy to answer any questions as best as I can.

 

 

The basic belief behind NVC is that all behaviors stem from feelings and needs, and all people share the same basic universal feelings and needs. I have often heard learning NVC described as, like learning to speak another language, and it really is. The basic method is to clearly state your observation of what is going on, not judgement this is very important, then you state how you are feeling, and what you are needing from the situation, and finally making a clear request of the other person. Now, it's important to remember you're making a request not a demand here, and obviously the other person may not feel the same way you do about the situation, and that's ok, the point is to try not to place blame on anybody here! Not everybody will be feeling or needing the same things from any given situation, and that doesn't make the other person "wrong" or "bad", they are doing the best they can with what they have at the moment. So, it is very important for us to try to put ourselves in their shoes, look at things from their point of view, so we can best work to get everyone's needs met and find a mutually agreeable solution. This means listening deeply to the other person, validating what they say, trying to figure out how their feeling and what they're needing from the situation, and go from there to the request. Yes, this is hard, and you will need a ton of practice to get the hang of it, just like learning another language. ;)

 

Now, for how you can incorporate NVC into your family life, and of course discipline. Before we even start on this let me say, you must get your own needs met first before you can help anyone else get their needs met! You can not give what you do not have, so therefore getting your own needs met on a regular basis no matter what is absolutely essential. Getting past that point, firstly figure out what values are really important to you, the ones you want to pass on to your children, and start living them (if you're not already), and start acting on them. Secondly, choose to see the needs behind the actions, we are all doing the best we can to get our needs met with what we currently have, even when we act negatively; you are responsible for meeting your own needs, nobody else. Focus on connection first, then correction, the relationship is more important here than the lesson you're trying to teach. Recognize and celebrate your child's, and your own, unique gifts on a regular basis! When things go awry, connect using NVC, and remember to act using your values as your guide. Be willing to learn with your child, they truly are your best teacher! And, finally trust that every situation can be resolved peacefully with a mutually agreeable solution, it just takes some work to get there.

 

I look forward to hearing your opinions and questions! Here are the book recommendations:

 

*Non Violent Communication: A Language of Life

http://www.amazon.com/Nonviolent-Communication-A-Language-Life/dp/1892005034/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354568901&sr=8-1&keywords=non+violent+communication+a+language+of+life+2nd+edition+by+marshall+b.+rosenberg

 

*Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids

http://www.amazon.com/Respectful-Parents-Kids-Conflict-Cooperation/dp/1892005220/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354569039&sr=1-1&keywords=respectful+parents+respectful+kids

post #2 of 38

Thank you, Mittsy!!  I'm subbing to join the conversation. It's been 70 degrees here in my town very unusual for December) so I've been spending less time on the computer. I'll be back to join the discussion for sure! 

post #3 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

This is a brief introduction to Non Violent Communication (NVC) which is also known as Compassionate Communication, and how you can use it in parenting, as well as, in discipline. At the end I will provide links to some books that I have found very helpful for my understanding and application of NVC, and which will explain it better than I can.  I would be happy to answer any questions as best as I can.

 

 

 

Quote:
Thank you, Mittsy for offering us your experience and expertise with NVC!  I truly believe that being stretched beyond the basics of GD is essential to effective, long-term discipline. 

 

 

The basic belief behind NVC is that all behaviors stem from feelings and needs, and all people share the same basic universal feelings and needs.

 

Quote:
It's pathetic for me to admit this but I have always had a difficult time with "feelings". I struggle with this generally accepted notion that all feelings are valid. Sad, right? But I do!  When we're wrong about something and then we have feelings about that, I think our feelings should be re-evaluated. What does NVC have to say about that? 

 

 

I have often heard learning NVC described as, like learning to speak another language, and it really is. The basic method is to clearly state your observation of what is going on, not judgement this is very important, then you state how you are feeling, and what you are needing from the situation, and finally making a clear request of the other person. 

 

Quote:
This I like! I like the idea of making an observation and saying how it makes you feel and then clearly asking for what you want. I like it! 

 

 

Now, it's important to remember you're making a request not a demand here, and obviously the other person may not feel the same way you do about the situation, and that's ok, the point is to try not to place blame on anybody here! Not everybody will be feeling or needing the same things from any given situation, and that doesn't make the other person "wrong" or "bad", they are doing the best they can with what they have at the moment. So, it is very important for us to try to put ourselves in their shoes, look at things from their point of view, so we can best work to get everyone's needs met and find a mutually agreeable solution. This means listening deeply to the other person, validating what they say, trying to figure out how their feeling and what they're needing from the situation, and go from there to the request. Yes, this is hard, and you will need a ton of practice to get the hang of it, just like learning another language. ;)

 

Quote:
Ok, I like this too. I'm a fan of keeping blame out of things. I like the idea of trying to see things from another perspective. 

 

 

Now, for how you can incorporate NVC into your family life, and of course discipline. Before we even start on this let me say, you must get your own needs met first before you can help anyone else get their needs met! You can not give what you do not have, so therefore getting your own needs met on a regular basis no matter what is absolutely essential. 

 

Quote:
Sounds good to mama! love.gif

 

Getting past that point, firstly figure out what values are really important to you, the ones you want to pass on to your children, and start living them (if you're not already), and start acting on them. 

 

Quote:
I like the acknowledgement that these are different from person to person and family to family. I like the nod to avoid "do as I say, not as I do". 

 

Secondly, choose to see the needs behind the actions, we are all doing the best we can to get our needs met with what we currently have, even when we act negatively; you are responsible for meeting your own needs, nobody else. 

 

Quote:
What about actions that don't seem to be about getting needs met? I'm thinking of a cranky pre-teen who may just be feeling frustrated and hormonal. Her "need" is that she's frustrated (it seems). She's acting out of frustration but it doesn't seem like there's anything she wants anyone to help her with. 

 

Focus on connection first, then correction, the relationship is more important here than the lesson you're trying to teach. 

 

Quote:
I like this! Even if correction is important in a family, it doesn't get heard until there is a good connection. 

 

Recognize and celebrate your child's, and your own, unique gifts on a regular basis! When things go awry, connect using NVC, and remember to act using your values as your guide. Be willing to learn with your child, they truly are your best teacher! And, finally trust that every situation can be resolved peacefully with a mutually agreeable solution, it just takes some work to get there.

 

I look forward to hearing your opinions and questions! Here are the book recommendations:

 

 

 

Quote:
Thanks again, Mittsy! 

 

 

*Non Violent Communication: A Language of Life

http://www.amazon.com/Nonviolent-Communication-A-Language-Life/dp/1892005034/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354568901&sr=8-1&keywords=non+violent+communication+a+language+of+life+2nd+edition+by+marshall+b.+rosenberg

 

*Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids

http://www.amazon.com/Respectful-Parents-Kids-Conflict-Cooperation/dp/1892005220/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354569039&sr=1-1&keywords=respectful+parents+respectful+kids

post #4 of 38
Thread Starter 

Quote:

It's pathetic for me to admit this but I have always had a difficult time with "feelings". I struggle with this generally accepted notion that all feelings are valid. Sad, right? But I do!  When we're wrong about something and then we have feelings about that, I think our feelings should be re-evaluated. What does NVC have to say about that?
 

 

I think this sounds like more of a personal trigger to me, I would encourage you to dig into this. It sounds to me like may'be you have the belief that "negative feelings are wrong/bad", or something similar to that. It sounds like this is a very confusing topic for you, and may'be you're needing some clarification about how you can fit this into your life. Does this sound right to you?

 

 

Quote:

What about actions that don't seem to be about getting needs met? I'm thinking of a cranky pre-teen who may just be feeling frustrated and hormonal. Her "need" is that she's frustrated (it seems). She's acting out of frustration but it doesn't seem like there's anything she wants anyone to help her with.

 

When needs are not met that's when we usually see what most would classify as "bad behavior", that person is struggling with the ramifications of a unmet need and feels pretty bad because of it so they act out how they feel. Try to get in the teen's shoes, what is going on in her life right now, and go from there to try and figure out what need she may be trying to meet. A few guesses of my own would be:

 

*being understood

*appreciation

*empathy

*presence

*learning

*independence

 

I found a feelings and needs inventory I think you may find useful as well:

http://www.cnvc.org/Training/feelings-inventory

 

http://www.cnvc.org/Training/needs-inventory

 

Please keep the questions coming!

post #5 of 38

I thought of a couple of examples of where I struggle with accepting other people's feelings. I'd like to preface this with the fact that I have always personally appreciated when I have been told that perhaps my feelings were out of perspective or whatever. I can even remember being told this is an early teen by my father and, although it kind of rocked me at the time, I appreciate it to this day. 

 

Example #1: 

 

An adult is feeling belittled and hurt by an email. However, the intentions of the email were to encourage and support. Upon explanation, the person continues to feel hurt & resentful, despite knowing it was caused by a misunderstanding. 

 

Example #2: 

 

Child (10 years old) has a spree of lovely events in the beginning of the summer. A beach visit, and expensive amusement park trip, extra spending money for activities, a few more gifts and special treats than normal. Upon being told that we would not go out to dinner following a trip to the boardwalk, the child is very upset and acts as though she feels she is deprived. 

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Another question: Does NVC rank emotions/feelings in terms of primary and secondary? Maybe this is in the link...

post #6 of 38

Another question...

 

What does NVC say about feelings that are not quite grounded in immediate circumstances. We all know that when we get upset (or whatever negative feeling we're having) it is rarely about just that one thing, no matter how much we feel it is in the moment. So, what does NVC say about maybe increased anxiety when someone is quitting smoking, for instance? Or PMS? Or things like that? 

 

What do they say about the times where a person is not willing or able to see all the factors that are going into how they are feeling? When they are, for instance, focused on the wet towel left on the floor and anger towards the person who left it there. When, in fact, they are just angry in general because they are hormonal or something? 

post #7 of 38

I like NVC in principle, but i have always struggled with the idea that 'anger' isnt a feeling. 

post #8 of 38

Our child's school does basically NVC, so you have to take a communicating class before you can enroll. At first I had a lot of feelings about it, but it has been so great for our family, it's now hard for me to remember what exactly I was objecting to! I think I had a lot of anxiety about any kind of conflict, so talking openly about how we were feeling about conflict was really, really scary to me, like everything might fall off a cliff if we stopped hiding how we felt.

 

The main thing I've learned from my child's school is to feel more neutral about feelings. All feelings. My child's feelings, my own. They are not storms to be managed or weathered, they are just neutral events. Conflicts are just things that happen when human beings get together. They are a part of life, not evidence of failure.

 

Something I noticed is that a lot of women in particular basically can't feel the "angry" side of the emotional scale. Several of the moms in my class really struggled, while role-playing, to say "When someone hits me, I feel angry, because I don't like my body to be hurt". (ETA: this was about their three-year-olds, not about another adult. I re-read this and it suddenly seemed very ominous!) They would say "I feel sad" or something. I found that interesting! It seemed like all the women in the class had to do some work to get to a place where we were more able to state clearly our authentic, real feeling, instead of repackaging how we were feeling into something softer.

 

The practice of stating my feelings (even just to myself) has been really helpful for me. It has also been really interesting to see that a lot of families came to that workshop feeling like "Well, I guess to be peaceful parents, you basically can't have any limits". And that's not what we learned there at all. In fact, I would say that I express more limits than I did before. I used to, more often, feel like "I will just let this happen to avoid conflict", and now I feel more like "Nope, this is my authentic limit. I am going to state it, and the other person gets to have their own feelings about that, and all of that is okay."

 

I would have said that I was already pretty in touch with my feelings before we did this, and that we already had gentle family communication, but using this type of communication has really changed our household for the better. I'm very grateful that we got over our "What is this?" feelings and did the class! At the moment, I'm too short on time to do any additional meaningful study of NVC, but I'd like to in the future. The teachers at the child's school are really amazing at applying these communication principles to conflict between children, and it is wonderful to watch. I'd like to have more ability in that area myself, at some point.

 

 

Quote:
I like NVC in principle, but i have always struggled with the idea that 'anger' isnt a feeling.

 

Is this a thing?!? Man, I guess I am a failure at NVC, then, because I feel angry pretty often!

post #9 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by lalemma View Post

 

The main thing I've learned from my child's school is to feel more neutral about feelings. All feelings. My child's feelings, my own. They are not storms to be managed or weathered, they are just neutral events. 

I like this A LOT!  I think that part of my reaction against the "feelings" stuff is from life experience of maybe being around a lot of people who "feel" that "feelings" are always entitled to be the central issue. And, yes, that their feelings are this big storm that can take over a conflict. And perhaps even more so, that their feelings are something that I am expected to deal with. For this, I am not actually talking about children but thinking of this topic in terms of adults. Not sure what NVC has to say about this but I'm putting this out there. 

 

 

And BTW some of my favorite and most influencial philosophies were things that I really balked at at first. 

post #10 of 38
Thread Starter 

I don't think anyone's feelings are ever "out of perspective" as you say, instead I think they are being triggered by something and not reacting as they normally would because of that. This is not necessarily a part of nvc, but I do believe it's very important to take note of what triggers us so that we can work through it so we're not affected as much by it anymore. I don't believe nvc does say anything different about having certain emotions because of certain conditions. Personally, I am concerned that some may use their conditions as a crutch so that they don't have to face their true feelings and needs, I guess I am concerned about honesty in this situation. I would think you could use nvc to connect with your feelings, needs, and intentions in all of these situations.

 

Ex. 1

I would suggest the person dig in to why this email is bringing up such a response for them. I would offer empathy, and the emotional space to work through their feelings. There is not much more to do in this specific situation as this person has to work through this issue in the way that works best for them.

 

Ex. 2

It sounds like the child is feeling sad because they are possibly needing a choice in the matter, possibly needing to be heard and understood, possibly they want to know their opinions matter and are valued. Also, another guess of mine is the child may be needing a sense of order, or to know what's coming next. I would empathize and validate the child, and then ask for their opinions on what to do for dinner/evening out, and go from there.

 

I don't believe I've ever seen emotions being ranked in nvc.

post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by contactmaya View Post

I like NVC in principle, but i have always struggled with the idea that 'anger' isnt a feeling. 

I love NVC in principle, but I am a member of several yahoo groups designed to practice NVC and I am really struck by how self-centered and selfish the process is. It really bothers me. I often see posts like, "Have I given you enough empathy yet? Are you ready to hear me now or do I need to keep giving you empathy?" And the constant frustrations that people have that they aren't being heard enough. Seems like its difficult to give people enough empathy to fill them up so that they get to the place where they are ready to hear the other person. Some people have a lifetime of hurts that will take a lifetime of empathy before they can get to the place where they finally feel able to see another person's point of view. Most of us have at least one area where this is the case. In NVC practice, there is this idea that if you can meet a person's needs for being heard, they can move on to resolving the conflict with you. But this gives the idea that somehow the other person is responsible for meeting your needs for empathy, and if they fail, well, its not your fault you're still acting like a jerk.

 

And as IdentityCrisisMama touched upon... all the empathy in the world won't cure my PMS :)

 

I love Marshall's philosophy, and I love Inbal Kashtan's NVC and attachment parenting ideas (http://www.cnvc.org/Attachment-Parenting-and-Nonviolent-Communication), but something happens in the practice and application of NVC that makes it fall short for me. How hard can it be to observe, state feelings, identify needs, and make requests? Well apparently it is really hard for a lot of people. So hard sometimes that the person gets stuck in the formula and loses all sight of their feelings and needs and sight of the other person, or the listener feels so put off by the awkwardness of the language that they don't even feel like they are being spoken to ("boy I don't know what you just said but I feel really distant from you and like you weren't talking to ME at all, but maybe to Marshall Rosenberg? Is he in the room? Hiding in the closet, maybe?").

post #12 of 38
Thread Starter 

contactmaya: Anger is most definitely a valid emotion in nvc! I'm really curious as to where you heard otherwise. Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of nvc, has said that we should view anger as a "red flag" that there is some trigger, or unmet need, or suppressed feeling coming to the surface that is demanding you give it your attention. He recommends that when we feel angry we should acknowledge it, hit the pause button or take a break, and examine what is going on for us so we can work through it peacefully.

 

lalemma: I so agree with you about the limit setting! We let a lot slide here, but there are also a lot of times when I have had to speak up about something and put a limit in place because it was not in line with our core values.

post #13 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

Ex. 1

I would suggest the person dig in to why this email is bringing up such a response for them. I would offer empathy, and the emotional space to work through their feelings. There is not much more to do in this specific situation as this person has to work through this issue in the way that works best for them.

 

 

Quote:
For adult relationships, I like this suggestion very much. I'm trying, however, to picture myself successfully telling someone they need to work on this issue...in a VERY good place, I could see it but I don't see it working well actually IN conflict. 

 

 

Ex. 2

It sounds like the child is feeling sad because they are possibly needing a choice in the matter, possibly needing to be heard and understood, possibly they want to know their opinions matter and are valued. Also, another guess of mine is the child may be needing a sense of order, or to know what's coming next. I would empathize and validate the child, and then ask for their opinions on what to do for dinner/evening out, and go from there. 

 

Quote:
I have a hard time with this - or I would. This example is actually from our real life this summer. DC had a WONDERFUL summer but towards the end she had become so accustomed to "special" that regular life became something she felt was "unfair". Or something like that. For me, I would have a very hard time empathizing with a child who had just had lots of major life-fun and come from the boardwalk (amusement park type) who got upset that we couldn't then go out to eat. It would set of an "ungrateful" "spoiled" trigger for me. 
 
This actually illustrates some of my struggles with feelings. What if the child truly felt that it was "unfair" that the family couldn't eat out after a day at the boardwalk. Or what if she really felt her opinions didn't matter after weeks of child-centered activity that she got to choose? 
 
In real life, the solution  to the above problems was getting back to a more reasonable, balanced lifestyle. I suppose a case could be made that DC needed to not have so much fun...I think I may have tried to tell that to her - didn't go over well. ROTFLMAO.gif

 

post #14 of 38

Mittsy, I have heard things like, "Anger is a secondary emotion," meaning that anger is the result of "real emotions" such as disappointment, fear sadness and etc. I did not think it was NVC but it SEEMS like it would go hand in hand. 

post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post

 "Have I given you enough empathy yet? Are you ready to hear me now or do I need to keep giving you empathy?" And the constant frustrations that people have that they aren't being heard enough. 

Perhaps not surprising from my posts but I am not known for being especially empathetic. I'm a "do-er" when it comes to showing that I am empathizing with people. There have been times where I have tried to repeat back an emotion a person is feeling and it comes off as really sarcastic. Even if I don't mean it that way, I suppose it's difficult for me to take my judgement out of it. 

 

I am also starting to get that NVC maybe is something that is active that the person in conflict DOES - rather than something we do to the person in conflict. That makes sense to me. I do tend to try very hard to "own" my feelings, where they're coming from, what they're really about and etc. Obviously we can't do that for another person...I've tried and it doesn't work that well. 2whistle.gif

post #16 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

contactmaya: Anger is most definitely a valid emotion in nvc! I'm really curious as to where you heard otherwise. Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of nvc, has said that we should view anger as a "red flag" that there is some trigger, or unmet need, or suppressed feeling coming to the surface that is demanding you give it your attention. He recommends that when we feel angry we should acknowledge it, hit the pause button or take a break, and examine what is going on for us so we can work through it peacefully. 

So, like I said above, it seems that NVC is really something that you do as an individual. I get how that is super helpful and how you can require honesty and perspective from yourself. How do you "do it" with others? Is it a mutual thing you decide as a group to do together, learn together? 

 

For instance in example #1, it seems like it's maybe up to the person feeling angry and hurt to apply NVC but it doesn't seem like you can require that of them if it's not their thing. 

post #17 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mittsy View Post

lalemma: I so agree with you about the limit setting! We let a lot slide here, but there are also a lot of times when I have had to speak up about something and put a limit in place because it was not in line with our core values.

I think I'm a fairly tolerant person and I'm pretty laid-back so the potential with GD to be permissive is there for me. What has served our family well so that we don't get into the permissiveness trap is this idea I have of being an "authentic" parent. By that I suppose it mean that I don't apologize, feel guilty or second-guess my own needs as a person. I can see from lalemma's post how certain discipline styles that appear to be more flexible can have a real outcome of having more limits. 

post #18 of 38

Wow, what a great school! I like the way you put this, thanks for reminding me.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by lalemma View Post

 

The main thing I've learned from my child's school is to feel more neutral about feelings. All feelings. My child's feelings, my own. They are not storms to be managed or weathered, they are just neutral events. Conflicts are just things that happen when human beings get together. They are a part of life, not evidence of failure.

 

 

post #19 of 38

Ok, one more question...

 

Along the way I started to see the value in having a parent (or another person, friend) be a good gauge for one's feelings. I know you say that feelings are never out of perspective and I suppose I'm still having a hard time with that. But, isn't acting neutral towards feelings taking away the feedback system for gauging feelings? I feel like this feedback system is really helpful, not only for children but for all of us. 

post #20 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by contactmaya View Post

Wow, what a great school!

DC's first public school required and offered parenting classes as well. There were 5, I think, and families had to do one/year. And they were offered for free! It was awesome. DC only stayed there for a year but we loaded up on classes. My favorite was PET (Parent Effectiveness Training) and this great class/talk on temperament. 

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