“Where’s my phone?” My 5-year old son has it, again!! Urgh! I’m angry, and still I try to be nice, as I put my hand out to take it. “Please, give me my phone.” He looks up, guiltily, then begins screaming. I start to yell over his screams. I finally grab the phone in exasperation. He cries. Our connection is lost.
Do you have disconnections with your kids, too? We reach moments of exasperation, when our skills and patience have been exhausted, and end up acting in ways that we don’t want – yelling, fighting, shutting down. How can we address challenges more effectively?
Fortunately, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) can inspire fresh ideas and hope when we are drained of resources. We can resolve conflict without anyone ending up feeling hurt, angry or resentful. We can get back in touch with the love, affection, connection, and support we all want.
NVC shows us how to increase self-awareness, understanding and connection with ourselves and with others, which fosters healthy relationships. It enables us to:
• Recover from emotional reactivity
• Understand the underlying cause of emotions and behaviors
• Express our own experience without blame or criticism
• Connect with others with empathy
• Collaborate with others to find mutually satisfying next steps and solutions
Let’s replay the above conflict using the self-awareness, empathy and honesty of NVC: I feel my frustration. I remember the disaster between us the last time this happened. I take a few deep breaths and consider: “What is important to me here? Why do I want the phone? I’m juggling a lot. I want some ease around staying connected. I also want respect and ease for both of us. Okay, what is motivating him? Maybe he is tired, hungry, wanting some fun? I feel my frustration decreasing and I am committed to working this out, so we both get our needs met. Now I’m ready to connect with him.”
I guess, “Are you feeling scared that you’re in trouble?” “Yes,” he says cautiously. I help him find words to express what is going on for him. When I sense he feels understood, I share what is important to me. I then ask for support in finding a solution that works for both of us. It takes some time, but we’ve both shifted from feelings of disconnection, to working cooperatively to get both our needs met. No fighting or residual resentment are involved.
NVC for the Next Generation, is funded by the Network for NVC, a 501c3 non-profit. It serves a wide range of people, with the goal of contributing to a more peaceful world. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to join any of our programs including: various Practice Groups, Parenting Classes, Kids’ Programs, NVC in the Schools and Community Centers, and Peer Mediation.
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