• Tamara Catharina

NVC with children #1

In my role as a mother and with any child that I meet, I have the intention of using Nonviolent Communication in a radical way; parenting without obedience. I have a vision of a world where all children can be raised with this intention. Where they are being met where they are and where they can grow up with the freedom of authenticity and play. I am intent to reflect on this regularly and share my reflections here with you. Below you can find my first reflection on how I am using Nonviolent Communication in parenting.



It’s 19:15 pm. Pepijn (1,5 years old) is playing on the floor. I have the idea he is awake and energised. My body feels tired. I tell him, “I am feeling tired. I will rest on the couch” and I lay my body down to rest. He has a look on his face of excitement and playfulness. He moves towards the couch, climbs on the couch and lets his body fall on mine. He laughs out loud and starts to pull my arm, and puts his face in my armpit. I think he wants to play and wrestle and to be close and connect. I notice resistance in me. I want to play with him, and at the same time, I want to rest. An image of playing hide and seek comes to me when I see a blanket on the edge of the couch. I ask Pepijn, “Do you want to play hide and seek with me?”. His body shakes, and he makes humming sounds, which to me is a sign of excitement. I grab the blanket without moving the rest of my body and cover my face. “Where am I, Pepijn? Do you see me?”. He laughs out loud and starts to touch the blanket and search for my face. Hearing his laughter and his little high pitch sounds from excitement connect me to a place of play and joy and stimulate a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart. I feel my legs resting on the couch, and I notice my body relaxes.




Now I am looking at this situation through the lens of nonviolent communication:


It’s 19:15 pm. Pepijn (1,5 years old) is playing on the floor. I have the idea he is awake and energised.

Listening > I am observing Pepijn and silently guessing his feelings and needs. He seems to feel awake and energised, and to have a need for play.



My body feels tired.

Self-connection> I connect to the sensations in my body and connect to my own feelings and needs. I feel tired, and I have a need for rest.



I tell him, “I am feeling tired. I will rest on the couch” and I lay my body down to rest.

Expression > I share with him how I feel and what I am going to do to meet my need. I’m making an internal guess that he wants to stay close to me, based on previous experiences. I let him know what I am going to do by expressing myself to include him and for him to be seen for his needs. I share with him how I feel, so he can make the link between my feeling, need and strategy. I enjoy the idea that he becomes familiar and comfortable with expressing feelings and needs himself, so I want to demonstrate that in my words and actions.



He has a look on his face of excitement and playfulness. He moves towards the couch, climbs on the couch and lets his body fall on mine. He laughs out loud and starts to pull my arm, and puts his face in my armpit. I think he wants to play and wrestle and to be close and connect.

Listening > I observe Pepijn’s sounds, movements and facial expressions. I’m guessing his feelings and needs. He seems to feel playful and excited. From his facial expression, I understand he has a need for play. His movements towards and on me tell me he has a need for closeness and his pulling of my arm tells me he wants to interact.



I notice resistance in me. I want to play with him, and at the same time, I want to rest.

Self-connection> I notice a bodily response that I call resistance. I connect with a need for rest. At the same time, I feel joy in me with the idea of playing with him and a warm feeling from the connection I experience. My need for rest now is accompanied by a need for play and connection. In contact with those needs, an image comes up for a strategy in which my body can rest, and at the same time, we can play and connect.



An image of playing hide and seek comes to me when I see a blanket on the edge of the couch. I ask Pepijn, “Do you want to play hide and seek with me?”. His body shakes, and he makes humming sounds, which to me is a sign of excitement.

Expression > I ask Pepijn, “Do you want to play hide and seek with me?” I keep my request simple and clear, and I include his need in my request. As he can’t express himself verbally, I observe his body language and listen to his sounds to get a sense of his answer. In his shaking and humming, I recognise his answer to my request is “yes”.



I grab the blanket without moving the rest of my body and cover my face. “Where am I, Pepijn? Do you see me?”. He laughs out loud and starts to touch the blanket and search for my face.

Listening > I notice his body movements and sounds. They tell me he is experiencing joy and adventure. I imagine many needs are being met for him. I’m guessing a need for fun, connection, closeness, play, adventure, learning and touch.



Hearing his laughter and his little high pitch sounds from excitement connect me to a place of play and joy and stimulate a smile on my face and a warm feeling in my heart. I feel my legs resting on the couch, and I notice my body relaxes.

Self-connection > I notice my body sensations and translate them into words I call feelings. I feel joy, warmth in my heart and relaxation. My needs for rest and relaxation are met, as well as my need for connection, play and closeness.



I celebrate that nonviolent communication contributed to the increased awareness that I have and how I navigate my connection with children today. And I celebrate that I can stay connected to myself and to them in the same moment. That it becomes like a dance where both of our needs get met. I’m joyful about sharing examples with you from my life through the lens of nonviolent communication. It meets my need to contribute to the world I dream of. I’m curious to hear how it is for you to read this. If you want to read more of my experiences with parenting, please subscribe to my newsletter on the bottom of this page. If you want to share how it was or have questions, I invite you to write below this post or send your response at message@tamaracatharina.com