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NVC in Action: How I Use NVC To Support My Children




As parents, we're constantly navigating the complex world of feelings and needs, not just for ourselves, but for our children too, and they frequently catch us off guard. Nonviolent Communication (NVC), pioneered by renowned peacemaker, psychologist, and conflict resolution expert Marshall Rosenberg, provides invaluable tools to enrich communication, understanding, and connection within people, relationships, and society. In this blog post, Parent Coach and NVC Practitioner Sophia Klopp shares personal anecdotes of how NVC has enriched her parenting journey.


Understanding Nonviolent Communication (NVC)


Nonviolent Communication, often abbreviated as NVC, is a communication framework developed by Marshall Rosenberg. At its core, NVC encourages authentic expression while fostering deep listening and empathy for others. It focuses on identifying and expressing feelings and needs rather than judgments and blame, creating a space for genuine connection and understanding.






“I’m angry and it’s your fault!”

Building a Vocabulary of Feelings with My 5-Year-Old

 

Ever heard those words, 'I’m angry and it’s your fault!'? As a parent, I've certainly been there. My now 8-year-old son went through a phase of expressing a lot of anger, particularly around school refusal around the age of five. Transitioning between activities was tough for him; he gets really absorbed in what he's doing. Balancing his needs with our family routine felt like a constant juggle.


In those moments, it was easy to spiral into thoughts of being a punching bag for his heavy emotions. Questions swirled in my mind: 'What did I do wrong this time? Why can't he just obey?' But through practicing Nonviolent Communication (NVC), I've learned to shift from blame and negative self-talk to empathy and self-compassion.


One memorable moment stands out when we decided to work on feelings faces with markers and paper plates. Together, we talked about different emotions that could be underneath his anger. From disappointment to hunger, each feeling found its place among his feelings faces. We even coined one for being 'hangry' – the 'hyena' face!


NVC has been instrumental in nurturing emotional literacy in our family. It's not just about naming feelings; it's about embracing them with empathy and compassion. Teaching my son that it's okay to feel a range of emotions and empowering him with the language to express them authentically is not an easy feat, but it’s worth all the effort. Through simple conversations and activities, my son and I explored feelings and needs together, laying the foundation for empathetic communication and self-awareness from an early age.




“Girl friendships can be hard!”

Navigating Friendship Challenges with My Tween Daughter


Navigating the emotional ups and downs of friendships can be a rollercoaster ride, both for our children and for us as parents. I vividly recall a challenging phase when my then 11-year-old daughter found herself overwhelmed by tears without a clear explanation. It was heart-wrenching to witness her silent struggles. I could feel her anguish as she grappled with emotions she couldn't quite put into words.


In those moments, I leaned on the principles of NVC to create a safe space for her to explore her feelings and needs. Leaving our NVC GROK cards on the table became a silent invitation for her to check into her inner world, allowing her to sort through the emotions that troubled her. Through gentle validation and empathetic listening, we journeyed together through her pain, inching closer to understanding what she’s going through.


As she made sense of her thoughts and feelings, a powerful realization emerged: beneath the layers of hurt lay a deep longing for clarity and connection with her friend. It was a significant moment—a testament to the power of NVC in fostering authentic communication and nurturing empathy.


While the urge to swoop in and fix her fractured friendship tugged at my heartstrings, I resisted the impulse, recognizing the importance of empowering her to navigate these challenges on her own terms. I had to remind myself not to go into a fear spiral that if she loses this friendship, she will not have any more friends because it is simply not true.


Friendships do evolve over time and as my daughter took courageous steps toward communicating her needs, I am grateful for the simple but powerful tools NVC has given us. It's a reminder that sometimes, just listening and being there is the best support we can offer.




"My heart feels heavy."

NVC Providing Clarity for My Teen Son


Recently, my then 16-year-old sent me a text message, expressing a sense of unease that had been lingering for a couple of days. Though he assured me he was physically fine, there was a persistent heaviness in his heart that he couldn’t quite articulate. In response, I let him know I love him and that I’m available for a chat whenever he needed.


Preferring solitude, he spent the whole day in his room. I knew I could reach him with food. (It’s amazing how much food they devour in their teen years!) I approached his door with a bowl of snacks and some NVC Grok cards. With his consent, I joined him for a snack and light conversation about gaming before introducing the Grok cards. I asked if he would like to give the cards a shot and he gave it a go. 


Together, we explored his feelings and needs through the cards, gradually narrowing down to those that most resonated with him. He revealed feelings of shame and a need for predictability and acknowledgment of his intentions. The “weight” of a heavy heart is something that is new to him, but honing into his feelings and needs provided him relief.


After a few days, I asked him how he’s feeling and he said, “I guess after we talked, I started to feel better. I guess those cards helped.” His acknowledgment reinforced the value of our conversation and the Grok cards in navigating his emotions.


I took the opportunity to share insights from Dr. Daniel Siegel’s "Name It to Tame It" approach, emphasizing the importance of making sense of our internal experiences before deciding on the next steps. Through this process, he found clarity and relief, showcasing the power of NVC in fostering understanding and connection, even with reluctant communicators.



Embracing NVC as a Parent


Integrating NVC into my parenting journey has been transformative. It's not about having all the answers but fostering authentic connection, empathy, and mutual understanding. NVC equips me with the tools to navigate challenges with compassion and curiosity, fostering deeper bonds with my children and empowering them to navigate their emotional landscapes.


As you embark on your NVC journey, remember, it's about intention, not perfection. Each interaction presents an opportunity for growth and connection, both for you and your children.



 

About Sophia Klopp


Sophia is a workshop trainer and a trauma-informed facilitator for Chapter Zero. She champions CZ’s ‘Respectful / Mindful Parenting Tweens and Teens Singapore’ Facebook community for more than 2k members.


As a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and co-founder of Positive Discipline Singapore, Sophia is dedicated to empowering parents, caregivers, and educators in cultivating authentic connections with children. With three children of her own, aged 17, 12, and 8, she believes parenthood is a continuous journey of learning, adapting, and growing alongside our children, as we shape not only their lives but also our own.


Sophia has led numerous workshops and webinars for diverse audiences. Her sessions provide evidence-based Positive Discipline strategies aimed at equipping children with crucial social and life skills. Additionally, she imparts techniques of Mindful Communication derived from Parent Effectiveness Training (PET) and Non-Violent Communication (NVC). You could also follow her parenting journey on Instagram @betheircalm and Positive Discipline work @positivedisciplinesg.


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