• Tamara Catharina

NVC with Children #3


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 am attending a course tonight. The babysitter arrives after dinner to take care of Pepijn. I explain our evening ritual to her before going to bed, and then I leave. Pepijn is crying when I am leaving. It hurts seeing him like that, as I so want for him to experience the care and closeness I imagine he longs for now. And at the same time, I want to trust that he will be relaxed again once I am gone and that the babysitter will care for him. I ask my neighbour to send me a message and let me know how it is going. She texts me after 45 minutes that they went for a walk together and that he seems to be happy. They just returned to the house. I feel relief and bring my focus back to the course. Half an hour later, she texts me that he is in the bathtub. She writes: “He is in the bathtub now, but he cries a lot, and he asks for you. I will take him out of the bathtub now and put his pyjamas on.” I notice an uncomfortable feeling in my body, in the area of my diaphragm. I imagine it is intense for him not to have me around and that he is in pain and possibly panic. I text her I will be home in fifteen minutes. I leave the course earlier than the ending time and step on my bike. When I come home, I can hear him cry and call me while walking up the stairs towards my apartment. When I come in, I see he is still in the bathtub. The babysitter tells me he didn’t want her to take him out. My intuition tells me that leaving him in the evening is a big step for him right now. I think he is attached to my presence and doesn’t understand that I still exist when I am not there and doesn’t know if I will come back. I feel worried about the impact this has on his nervous system and his trust that he matters and is supported. I want him to trust life, trust there is support, and know that he matters. I discuss my feelings and needs with the babysitter. I tell her that I notice his mattering is more important to me than leaving in the evening right now. We exchange ideas and decide to not have her babysit evenings for the next two weeks, until Vincent (his father and my partner) is back in Amsterdam. After she leaves, I speak with Pepijn. I tell him that I care for him, that he matters to me and that I mourn that he was sad when I was not there. I tell him I want to listen to what is important for him. I don’t know how many of my words he understands. He smiles and hugs me. I feel my body softening a little and sadness coming up. I care for his wellbeing.



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


I am attending a course tonight. The babysitter arrives after dinner to take care of Pepijn. I explain our evening ritual to her before going to bed, and then I leave. Pepijn is crying when I am leaving.

Observation > This is what I see and hear. It is what the camera can catch.


It hurts seeing him like that, as I so want for him to experience the care and closeness I imagine he longs for now. And at the same time, I want to trust that he will be relaxed again once I am gone and that the neighbour will care for him.

Self-connection> I connect to a feeling of hurt inside of me when I see and hear Pepijn crying. I am internally guessing his needs: I imagine he has a need for care and closeness. And I connect to my own need for trust and for him to relax and be cared for.


I ask the babysitter to send me a message and let me know how it is going.

Expression > I want to stay connected to reality. I have the idea that that will help me to relax and stay present in the course. I make a request to the babysitter to “send me a message and let me know how it is going”.


She texts me after 45 minutes that they went for a walk together and that he seems to be happy. They just returned to the house. I feel relief and bring my focus back to the course.

Self-connection> I read her message, and I interpreted it as a way of telling me Pepijn is feeling comfortable. I notice sensations in my body that I describe as a feeling of relief. It helps me to relax and have the spaciousness to bring my focus back to the course.


Half an hour later, she texts me that he is in the bathtub. She writes: “He is in the bathtub now, but he cries a lot, and he asks for you. I will take him out of the bathtub now and put his pyjamas on.” I notice an uncomfortable feeling in my body, in the area of my diaphragm. I imagine it is intense for him not to have me around and that he is in pain and possibly panic.

Self-connection> Reading the message stimulates uncomfortable sensations in my body. I feel tension in the area of my diaphragm, and I notice I can not breathe deeply. I’m guessing that he feels in pain and possibly feels panic. I connect to a need inside of me to care for him and contribute to his wellbeing. A shift takes place in my body where I want to prioritize the care for him.


I text her I will be home in fifteen minutes. I leave the course earlier than the ending time and step on my bike.

Expression > My strategy is to leave the course and go home to care for Pepijn. I send my neighbour a message to let her know I want to care for Pepijn and that I am coming home.


When I come home, I can hear him cry and call me while walking up the stairs towards my apartment. When I come in, I see he is still in the bathtub. The babysitter tells me he didn’t want her to take him out. I notice a sadness inside of me. My intuition tells me that leaving him in the evening is a big step for him right now. I think he is attached to my presence and doesn’t understand that I still exist when I am not there and doesn’t know if I will come back. I feel worried about the impact this has on his nervous system and his trust that he matters and is supported. I want him to trust life, trust there is support, and know that he matters.

Self Connection > I take in the observation of him crying and calling me while sitting in the bathtub and the words of the babysitter. I listen to my intuition, which in relation to Pepijn, I would describe as a natural and primal inner voice. I’m guessing he feels confused about the meaning of me not being present and that it brings feelings of stress to his body. I feel sad, and I worry about the impact this has on him. I connect to a need to take care of his health and to contribute to his trust that he is supported and that he matters.


I discuss my feelings and needs with the babysitter. I tell her that I notice his mattering is more important to me than leaving in the evening right now. We exchange ideas and decide to not have her babysit evenings for the next two weeks until Vincent (his father and my partner) is back in Amsterdam.

Dialogue > I share my feelings and needs with the babysitter. I imagine it is helpful for her to understand what is important for me. And I enjoy the idea of brainstorming together what will be the best solution for now regarding her babysitting Pepijn. Together we come to a strategy that we both believe is what most contributes to Pepijn’s wellbeing. I enjoy hearing that this also meets her needs for care for Pepijn and a need for ease in connection with him when they are together.


After she leaves, I speak with Pepijn. I tell him that I care for him, that he matters to me and that I mourn that he was sad when I was not there. I tell him I want to listen to what is important for him. I don’t know how many of my words he understands.

Expression > I would like for Pepijn to know that I see and hear him, that I care about his feelings and that he matters. I share this with him in words and in my physical presence, facial and bodily expression, and attention. Even when I don’t know how much he understands, I trust that the quality of my presence will be contributing to his sense of connection and the experience of care.


He smiles and hugs me. I feel my body softening a little and sadness coming up. I care for his wellbeing.

Listening > From his smile and hug, I understand that he appreciates my attention and the message I would like for him to hear. I imagine he feels relaxed and joyful to be together and reconnect. My body feels softer, as if tension is being released, and it slowly opens up. I notice sensations that I call sadness and connect to my need for care for him and his wellbeing.



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