• Tamara Catharina

NVC with Children #2

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 another reflection on how I am using Nonviolent Communication in parenting.



I’m in the park with Pepijn (1,5 years old) and two friends of mine. They bought me a decaf coffee with oat milk. Pepijn is eating a cookie and moves his cookie toward my cup to dip his cookie into my coffee. I say: “I see you want to dip your cookie in my coffee. I will help you with that.” I help him to make sure his cookie doesn’t fall into the coffee. I think he enjoys my support as I see his eyes watching our movements closely. When the cookie is dipped, he puts his cookie in his mouth. From his facial expression and sounds, I understand he enjoys the taste and the structure of the foam. Now he moves only his hand toward my cup and wants to dip his hand in the foam. He slowly dips all his fingers in the coffee. There is a smile on his face. I have a sense he is exploring the sensation of the little foam bells on his skin. He takes his hand out of the coffee and brings it to my mouth. I see how my friends are watching what we are doing. I have imaginations of what they might think. I take a breath. I let Pepijn put his hand in my mouth. With my mouth, I take the foam of his hand, and I say, “mmmm”. He giggles, and his face tells me he enjoys the sensation of my mouth around his hand. I take a sip of my coffee. We repeat the same ritual several times. When my coffee is almost finished, he reaches out to the cup in a way that tells me he wants a sip. I imagine he wants to taste what it is like to drink what I drink. I hand him the last sip of my coffee. He smiles and says, “mmmm”. I have a warm feeling in my heart and a smile on my face. I enjoy seeing him with all his sensations having a new experience.



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


I’m in the park with Pepijn (1,5 years old) and two friends of mine. They bought me a decaf coffee with oat milk. Pepijn is eating a cookie and moves his cookie toward my cup to dip his cookie into my coffee.

Listening > I observe Pepijn and his facial expression and his movement towards my coffee. I am guessing he feels curious and excited because he wants to explore how my coffee tastes. I am taking this in as a request, which is something like, “Can I dip my cookie in your coffee?”



I say: “I see you want to dip your cookie in my coffee. I will help you with that.” Expression > I reformulate what I understand from his movements and facial expression. I express this reformulation as I want him to hear that I understand him, and I want to support him in learning the words that fit with the action.



I help him to make sure his cookie doesn’t fall into the coffee.

Self-connection & action > I imagine his fine motor skills make it challenging for him to not let his cookie drop into the full cup of coffee. I decide to support him, so he can fully enjoy the experience of exploring the sensations.


I think he enjoys my support as I see his eyes watching our movements closely. When the cookie is dipped, he puts his cookie in his mouth. From his facial expression and sounds, I understand he enjoys the taste and the structure of the foam.

Listening > I observe his movements and facial expressions. They tell me he enjoys the support as now he can fully focus on the experience of the sensations and the learning. I see his facial expression, and I hear his sounds after putting the cookie in his mouth. I’m guessing he feels joy and pleasure because he gets to taste and enjoy the coffee.



Now he moves only his hand toward my cup and wants to dip his hand in the foam.

Listening > I observe his movements. I’m guessing he is going to put his whole hand in my cup of coffee.



He slowly dips all his fingers in the coffee. There is a smile on his face. I have a sense he is exploring the sensation of the little foam bells on his skin. He takes his hand out of the coffee and brings it to my mouth.

Listening > I observe him and see a smile on his face. I understand from that that he is feeling joy and excitement. And that it meets his need for exploration and sensuality. I observe his hand moving to my mouth, which tells me he wants me to take the foam off his hand. I’m guessing he has a need for connection and another exploration (of how it would be to have his hand in my mouth). I receive this as a request.



I see how my friends are watching what we are doing. I have imaginations of what they might think. I take a breath.

Self-connection> I observe that my friends are watching us. And I have thoughts about “what do they think about what we are doing now?”. I’m feeling shy, curious and insecure at the same time. I take a breath to connect to my needs. I really enjoy contributing to Pepijns experience of life and supporting him in meeting his needs for exploration, connection, sensuality and possibly more. Also, I enjoy having adventures together as it brings me a sense of connection and belonging. I would like to be seen for this.



I let Pepijn put his hand in my mouth. With my mouth, I take the foam of his hand, and I say, “mmmm”.

Expression > When I open my mouth for his hand, it is my way of non verbally saying “yes” to his request. Making the sound “mmmm” is a way to let him know I enjoy our activity together.



He giggles, and his face tells me he enjoys the sensation of my mouth around his hand.

Listening > I am observing his bodily response, facial expression and sounds. They tell me he is feeling excited and joyful. Some of his needs are being met at this moment.



I take a sip of my coffee. We repeat the same ritual several times. When my coffee is almost finished, he reaches out to the cup in a way that tells me he wants a sip. I imagine he wants to taste what it is like to drink what I drink.

Listening > I observe that he reaches out to my cup of coffee. I imagine he feels curious to taste what I am drinking and that he has a need for learning and exploration. I receive this as a request.



I hand him the last sip of my coffee.

Expression > My action “giving him my cup” is my way of saying “yes” to his request.



He smiles and says, “mmmm”.

Listening > I am observing his facial expression and sound. They tell me he is feeling relaxation and pleasure. Some of his needs are being met at this moment.



I have a warm feeling in my heart and a smile on my face. I enjoy seeing him with all his sensations having a new experience.

Self-connection> I notice my body sensations: a warm feeling in my heart and a smile on my face. Many needs are met in me; contribution, fun, connection, relaxation. I enjoy supporting him in this new experience and seeing that his needs are met.



I celebrate that nonviolent communication contributed to the 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 at 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