Nonviolent Communication, as advocated by Marshall Rosenberg, is an effective practice that helps people communicate effectively with one another. It assumes a sense of equality among participants; you may be different from me, but we have the same needs. I can recognize your needs and you can recognize mine.
However, using NVC with children is not so self-evident. We are not on an equal footing with children. While we try to take them into consideration, generations of training tell us that children are to be guided and molded into valuable members of society.
Recent research in brain development and child psychology tell us a different story. Children are fully developed beings from the moment of birth, with a unique personality and particular abilities. Rather than “molding” them into what we want them to be, we need to be discovering what their interests and abilities are and encouraging them. This goes right along with the teachings of Nonviolent Communication.
In using NVC, we become curious about the other person. What feelings does she have? What are his needs? This is exactly how we need to raise children. We observe them and listen to them. We encourage them to discover their own way in the world, while teaching respect for others as they travel that way. We delight in our interactions with them, rather than get involved with ineffective power struggles that make us want to avoid them.
Granted, using NVC with children has its challenges. How do you question a preschooler about needs and feelings when developmental theory shows that they do not have the language to understand those feelings and needs? How do you communicate with infants who have no verbal language at all? This is what I have dedicated myself to studying and passing
on. I invite you to join me on this journey of interweaving the techniques of NVC with the current theories of brain development. Please comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.