11 July 2008

Non-Violent Communication

Another book review, people! I have finally finished and digested Non-Violent Communication, after a couple of years of starting it and then procrastinating because anyone who promises to solve the problems of the entire world for them in four easy steps is probably due some extra caution and even outright increduality.

I say this with tongue in cheek, because I am in fact a total idiot for dismissing something out of hand for being too ambitious and too simple. In fact that wasn't only why I dismissed it. I had decided out of hand without reading it properly that it was new-agey. Didn't I have a nappy-free baby? Didn't I read (and get something from) books that actually WERE new-agey. I'm admitting all of this, of course, because it is a really helpful book and I want to recommend it.

Short summary, it deals with how we use language, and how to express something that you want or need and explain how you feel, without being unclear or coercing the other person. I'll be the first to say that my parenting is not coercion-free (I am not TCS by a long way) but whatever your comfort level with the idea, the format suggesting for expressing needs has become really REALLY helpful for us almost overnight.

I was already using some forms of these words, but often giving out blame that I didn't intend or want to and often not at all making my needs clear (and so often not getting what I was asking for). Basically the idea is to describe what you see

"I can see/hear..."

then state how you feel about it whilst owning that it is YOUR feeling and YOUR reaction not something the other person DID to you, and express your need or value that is causing that emotion.

"I feel [emotion or sensation not prefixed with "that" or "it" etc].... because I need/value..."

Finally, ask for what you need if necessary.

Example: Jenna has just walked in and pulled something off Morgan who is howling. Me: "I see that Morgan is really upset. It looks like she was hurt just now. I feel very unhappy that she is crying because I value gentleness and kindness to each other. Will you think about how you can help her to feel better?" Then, without any further prompt, me getting cross (as would often happen) or her getting cross and screaming (which would ALWAYS happen and usually result in me getting cross or crosser), Jenna piped up with, "I'm sorry Morgan, I just wanted the toy and I forgot that you might be sad, you can play with it first and then it will be my turn. Do you want some of my drink?" :O

The other thing is Jenna's recent inability to actually ask for what she needs. "I'm HUNGRYYYY!!!" Well it has been making me truly see red, and I've been quite childish back from time to time. Well I've found some new words that don't make her feel I'm picking on her. "When I hear shouting I feel upset and worried because I value respectful words. I need you to try again." It works!
Hmm, perhaps more thoughts another time, if there is room in my head for all of them at once.


  1. Wow, that must take a lot of patience! I am not a patience person. IN fact, it could be said that I am a very IMpatient person. I do want to be a patient parent though - might have to start working on patience while i still have a few months to practice!

    The Broken Man


  2. I'm an impatient person too - that's why I know I have to think about how I discipline my children. My instinct is to squish them, shout and lash out. So I'm learning...

    The way I see it is that we have to grow up at the same time as our children - it's the only way, because God isn't done with us while we're on this Earth. So growing more Christlike isn't something I've done and can now teach my children to do, it's something we all have to do together as a family unit, learning from each other.

    Babies are in themselves an education in patience. They can't be rushed, have anything done TO them to make them "good". They just are as they are.

    More grace and more patience, please Lord, I've run out. It must be the parent's prayer. ;)


Penny for your thoughts? :)