Non-Violent Communication With Children: 5 Keys and Recommendations

Applying non-violent communication with your children will allow you to bond with love and respect and achieve harmony at home. See why.
Non-Violent Communication With Children: 5 Keys and Recommendations

Last update: 06 July, 2022

Many parents feel that communication with their children is a challenge. Without knowing very well how, their home has become a real battlefield, full of shouting and power struggles. They constantly repeat the same phrases, orders, and requests, without achieving the behavioral change they’re looking for. If this is your situation, you may be interested in knowing how to apply non-violent communication with your children.

The key to this approach is focused on achieving conscious dialogues and conversations, in which you avoid speaking on autopilot, but deliberately choose the tone and the words to be used. It’s based on empathy, compassion, and respect, aiming to understand one’s own feelings and needs, as well as those of children.

To reach a common understanding, there are a series of guidelines that we can apply on a daily basis and this is what we’re going to talk about today. Keep reading!

What is non-violent communication?

The principles of non-violent communication were described by the American psychologist Marshall Rosenberg and seek nothing less than achieving effective communication. In other words, an exchange that not only allows us to express ourselves but also allows us to make ourselves understood and achieve the objective we’re looking for in our interlocutor.

Unfortunately, many interactions with children are not only unhelpful but also quite harmful. Shouting, teasing, threats, blackmail, and criticism are much more present in homes than they should be and we’re often unaware of it.

But in addition to this, we also exercise communicative violence when we’re indifferent and cold toward others when we minimize their emotions and belittle their requests. In short, when we speak without thinking, moved by impulses, and focus only on ourselves.

All these elements are what nonviolent communication aims to eradicate. And for this, a series of guidelines are suggested that we must contemplate and implement. Take note!

A mother laughing with her young son.
When communication is based on respect, empathy, and assertiveness, the results make a difference in individual and family well-being.

1. Apply the four steps of nonviolent communication with your children

To communicate in a healthy and appropriate way, we must follow a sequence of four steps in any interaction. Be sure to put them into practice and you’ll see great positive changes:

  1. Observe the situation, without making judgments or evaluations, in an objective manner. For example, your child has left dirty dishes on the kitchen table.
  2. Analyze your own feelings, how does this make you feel? Instead of letting yourself be carried away by that emotional impulse, take a moment to see your feelings, recognize them, and identify them. In this case, you may think, “I feel irritated and angry.”
  3. Identify your needs. Why has this event made you feel this way? If it has caused you discomfort and conflict, it’s because it goes against one of your wants or needs. What are they? For example, “I need the common areas of the house to be clean and tidy.”
  4. Express concrete requests. In this fourth point, we can already communicate to the other party how we feel and what we want from them. But we should only do so after completing the previous process. However, this expression must be assertive, focused on our feelings, and not on what the other person has done wrong. In addition, the request we make must be clear. If we follow the previous example, it would be as follows: Seeing dirty dishes on the table irritates me because I need the house to be tidy. I would like you to put them in the dishwasher.

2. Be careful with the way you speak and act

As you can see, it’s essential to use appropriate forms to convey your message. Thus, shouting and impulsive actions have no place in non-violent communication.

Try to calm down before speaking, use an appropriate tone of voice, and create an appropriate situation. So, if your children are small, place yourself at their level when talking to them, look them in the eyes, and make sure they pay attention to you. What you say to them will be of little use if they’re engrossed in a TV series or a video game.

3. Choose your content wisely

Even if you’re furious about what your child has done or tired after a long day at work, take time to choose the right words. Remember that the goal isn’t to let off steam, but to communicate effectively and reach an understanding. So, avoid reproaches, judgments, and labels (“you’re lazy”, “you always do the same thing”, “I’m fed up with you”) and try to be clear and objective.

4. Keep the consequences in mind

Non-violent communication with children must be based on compassion and empathy. Therefore, it’s important to speak deliberately, with full awareness of what the words may cause in the other person.

If you compare or humiliate your child, you make them feel inferior. If you threaten or blackmail them, you make them feel fear and guilt. If you belittle their reasons and emotions, you make them feel unimportant and invalid.

The goal is honest and understanding communication that’s constructive and uplifting; that teaches your child to listen, express themself, and negotiate. Causing emotional harm or seeking only obedience isn’t acceptable in this paradigm.

5. Learn to listen

Finally, keep in mind that communication is bidirectional and that it’s not just about getting your children to behave the way you want them to. The idea is to be able to understand each other. So, just as you want them to listen to you, take you into account, and listen to you, you also have to be open to understanding them, listening to them, and giving weight to their reasons and emotions.

A mother kneeling down to talk to her toddler son.
When a solid bond is created between parents and children, it’s much easier to reach agreements. If a child feels respected, listened to, and taken into account, they’ll be much more willing to do the same.

Using non-violent communication with your children is a great learning experience

Applying the above recommendations will make communication with your children much easier, smoother, and more effective. Power struggles, shouting, and grudges will end and your relationship will improve significantly. But you’ll also set an example of assertive communication, a skill that will help them in many areas of life.

Growing up with this communication style will teach children not to be carried away by their impulses, to know how to select their words, and to listen to others. Being good communicators will make their social relationships much more satisfying and will open many doors for them in the future. So don’t hesitate to implement Rosenberg’s approach in your home.

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