Non-violent communication (NVC) should really be the base of any communication in every household. More so, the only form of communication at home and beyond. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Guide to NVC
Non-violent communication is also called compassionate communication. NVC is a means to get our own needs met, without compromising other peoples feelings and needs, thus creating empathy.
"This approach to communication emphasizes compassion as the motivation for action rather than fear, guilt, shame, blame, coercion, threat or justification for punishment."(2)The basics of non-violent communication are fairly simple. Instead of judging and interpreting situations, we are asking ourselves about the feelings and needs of our child (or partner) and expressing our own feelings and needs. From there on, the speaker makes a request. Making a request means opening yourself up towards a negative answer and being able to start a dialogue upon it. The basics of NVC look like this:
"I want to understand the needs that led to your actions, I want to express to you the feelings and needs that led to mine, and I want to find strategies that will meet both of our needs."(1)Non violent communication uses positive action-based language. In making clear requests without attacking or agression, we minimize defensive mechanisms in our discussion partner. NVC is not about making somebody do what you want, it is about finding a solution that suits everyones needs.
Conflicts arise out of the way we try to meet those needs, not in the needs themselves, for they are the same for all human beings. Acknowledging the universality of needs is the step towards interhuman connection.
Bringing NVC home
NVC is a very efficient gentle parenting tool, in infancy and beyond (because attachment parenting doesn't stop at age two, or four).
"NVC shares two key premises with attachment parenting: Human actions are motivated by attempts to meet needs, and trusting relationships are built through attentiveness to those needs."(1)In order for NVC to work, it involves a great deal of introspect and of course compassion. Applying NVC might not be easy, for yet again it means breaking a set of habits and behavioral patterns we have picked up in our childhood.
"Because the problem-solving model we follow so often relies on threat of consequences or promise of reward, it’s almost guaranteed that anger will crop up regularly. For what children learn from this model is not cooperation, harmony and mutual respect; it’s more often the hard lesson of domination: that whoever has more power gets to have his or her way, and that those who have less power can only submit or rebel. And so we continue the cycle of domination that is leading human beings close to self-destruction."(3)Applying NVC at home teaches our children that all humans have a set of needs that are universal and creates a connection between your child and others. Teaching NVC's understanding of conflict breaks the dichotomy between good and bad, taking away the focus on our actions and diverting it to our needs. It might well be a small step towards social change.
(1)non-violent communication within the family
(3)Parenting For Peace
(2)Center For Non-Violent Communication