• Tamara Catharina

NVC with Children #4

In my role as a mother and with any child that I meet, I have the intention to use 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.


We are sitting at the table for dinner. I am having a conversation with Vincent. Pepijn speaks to me. I don’t know what he tries to tell me. I listen to him and tell him that I am not sure what he needs. I have a sense he does not have the patience to wait. Meanwhile Vincent continues speaking. I listen to him. My body feels tense. It is challenging for me to stay focused on what Vincent is saying. I think having two conversations simultaneously in two different languages takes more energy from me than I have. I remember having this feeling before while having dinner. I want to give both of them the attention they would enjoy at the moment, and I want to honour my capacity. I ask Vincent if we can pause the conversation to listen to Pepijn and his request. He says, "yes". I exchange with Pepijn with words and body signs. He seems to be thirsty. I hand him a glass of water. Pepijn takes the glass, leans back and starts drinking. I have a sense he is feeling satisfied. I take a breath. I enjoy the silence. My body relaxes. I ask Vincent what it was that he was trying to tell me. I listen to him. When the topic is closed, I share with Vincent my experience at the table. That I struggle to have two conversations at the same time. That, even though I might not hear what Pepijn is trying to say, I want to equally make space to listen to him and welcome him as whole and worthy. That is important for me as I want him to know that he matters. I say, “Would it be ok for you if we try to pause when Pepijn is asking for something or wants to share something? And that we then include him in the conversation and respond to his request?”. “Yes, I would very much like to do that”, says Vincent. “I recognise the intensity you experience in those moments, and I would enjoy having a relaxing time at the dinner table together”. I feel relief. I enjoy the silence again. I am celebrating that I had the clarity at the moment and discussed it with Vincent. And I am grateful for our mutual intention to care for Pepijn’s needs as much as for our own.


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


We are sitting at the table for dinner. I am having a conversation with Vincent. Pepijn speaks to me.

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



I don’t know what he tries to tell me. I listen to him and tell him that I am not sure what he needs and ask him to tell me again. I have a sense he does not have the patience to wait.

Listening > I am listening, not only with my ears, but also with my eyes and with my heart. I feel confused about what Pepijn is trying to ask me. I have a sense he feels frustrated, because he would like me to understand him.


Meanwhile Vincent continues speaking.

Observation > This is what I see and hear. It is what the camera can catch. Vincent speaks to me at the same time as Pepijn speaks to me.


While I listen to him, I notice wy body feels tense. It is challenging for me to stay focused on what Vincent is saying. I think having two conversations simultaneously in two different languages takes more energy from me than I have. I remember having this feeling before while having dinner. I want to give both of them the attention they would enjoy at the moment, and I want to honour my capacity.

Self Connection > I notice tension in my body while hearing both of them speak. I would like to hear them both and I am not able to in the moment. I feel torn in how to divide my energy and attention. I have a thought that communication in two different languages might also contribute to the challenge I experience. I also have a thought that this happened before. I want to give both of them attention and presence, and right now I can not offer this quality of presence. And I would like to know how to make this work. I realise that it is most easy at this moment to check with Vincent, as Pepijn seems to be in pain. A strategy comes up to ask Vincent for a pause.


I ask Vincent if we can pause the conversation to listen to Pepijn and his request. He says, "yes".

Dialogue > I make a request to Vincent to pause our conversation, so Pepijn can be heard. He says “yes” to my request.


I exchange with Pepijn with words and body language. He seems to be thirsty. I hand him a glass of water. Pepijn takes the glass, leans back and starts drinking. I have a sense he is feeling satisfied.

Dialogue > I check with Pepijn what is going on. From his words and body language I am guessing he is thirsty. I give him a glass of water. He takes the glass, which I understand as that was what he was asking for. He starts to drink and seems to be calm. I think his need is being met in this moment.


I take a breath. I enjoy the silence. My body relaxes.

Self connection > I take a breath. It is a way for me to stop for a moment and check in with myself. Feel my body and notice what is happening. I feel soft and I enjoy the silence. My body is relaxing while I selfconnect. Connecting with myself brings space to listen to Vincent again.


I ask Vincent what it was that he was trying to tell me. I listen to him.

Listening > I want to listen to Vincent. After listening Pepijn and myself I have a full “yes” to hear him. I stay with him and listen to his sharing. I can be fully present and I enjoy listening to him.


When the topic is closed, I share with Vincent my experience at the table. That I struggle to have two conversations at the same time. That, even though I might not hear what Pepijn is trying to say, I want to equally make space to listen to him and welcome him as whole and worthy. That is important for me as I want him to know that he matters. I say, “Would it be ok for you if we try to pause when Pepijn is asking for something or wants to share something? And that we then include him in the conversation and respond to his request?”.

Expression > When I am sure Vincent feels complete with his sharing, I share my experience with him. I express my feelings, that I feel torn and that I have tension in my body, when both of them speak to me at the same time (observation). And that it is important for me to be present (need) with Pepijn and for him to know that he matters (need). That I want for him to have the experience of being heard (need) and seen (need). And to be included (need). I make a request to Vincent. The request includes the strategy to pause our conversation when Pepijn speaks to me.


“Yes, I would very much like to do that”, says Vincent. “I recognise the intensity you experience in those moments, and I would enjoy having a relaxing time at the dinner table together”.

Listening > I listen to Vincents response to my request. What I hear from him is that he recognises what I am saying from what he sees and hears from me in moments like that (when they speak at the same time). And that he resonates with the need to have an enjoyable time together at the table. That this is also something that is important for him.


I feel relief. I enjoy the silence again. I am celebrating that I had the clarity at the moment and discussed it with Vincent. And I am grateful for our mutual intention to care for Pepijn’s needs as much as for our own.

Self connection > I notice a relief in my body hearing Vincents words. Also I enjoy the silence. It brings me a calm feeling and space to feel my body and notice what happend in my heart and mind. I celebrate that I had the clarity in the moment to pause and make a request and the way I did that, because it brought us connection and understanding and a sense of togetherness (needs). And I feel warm in my heart knowing that Vincent wants harmony, and togetherness and fun (needs) when we are together. My need to be seen and heard are met, as well as my need for togetherness and support in our parenting together.


Reflections:

You might notice the reflections give much more information than the actual words being said in the moment. For me this is about being in the consciousness of Nonviolent Communication, rather than using the ‘perfect’ language or saying everything out loud. In myself I am holding the intention to focus on our needs. Those of Pepijn, Vincent and myself. I am clear about seperating my thoughts from what is actually happening in the moment. And I try to make doable requests. It is important to me to honor the life in all of us in that moment. I want to remember that our welbeing is interconnected and that it serves all of us to keep our hearts and ears open to what is alive.


It took several moments at the dinner table for me to get clear about what was important for me and how to express that in the moment in a connecting way. And I am guessing this also counts for Vincent. Nonviolent Communication is not about doing it ‘right’. It is about the intention we have to stay in connection, and about putting our attention on our feelings and needs, to understand what is important for us.


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