In Non Violent Resistance (NVR) parenting, we ask parents to step out of the fight with their child at times of conflict. When one person steps out of the fight it reduces the conflict and diffuses the situation. You may worry that this is ‘giving in’ but in NVR, we refer to it as a tactical withdrawal. You can come back to deal with the behaviour later, when everyone is calm. Afterall, it is impossible for an escalated adult to de-escalate an escalated child.


Escalation Patterns

In order for the parent to understand how to step out of the fight, it is useful to look at escalation patterns which tend to occur in families and can lead to violence/aggression. Typically, we see two distinct types of escalation patterns. The first where the parent finds themselves reacting to the child’s violent/aggressive behaviour by bribing, coaxing or ignoring the child. Or secondly, the parent may react to the child by shouting or threatening. In both scenarios the parent’s reaction then becomes part of the escalation pattern.

When we talk to parents about their part in the escalation patterns, we are very clear that by doing so, we in no way lay blame for the child’s behaviour on them. In my experience, parents dealing with the issue of CPVA have already felt blame, perhaps unintentionally from well-meaning friends and relatives. Rather, NVR is about giving the parent the skills to deal with the conflict in a de-escalating way. When parents become aware of their own part in the cycle, they suddenly have the ability to drastically change, for the better, the types of interactions they have with their child.

Influencing the Climate in your Home

As a starting point this can be surprising and difficult for parents, but also extremely empowering. Suddenly they feel able to influence the climate in their home as well as their relationship with their child, instead of waiting for the child to behave better. The message is this: If you desperately want your child to change their behaviour, you can influence this by focusing on and managing your reactions to them.


Respond rather than react

Focusing on your reactions and choosing how you respond shifts the focus from the assumption that the child’s behaviour is the problem and feelings of frustration, to feelings of hope and the assumption that you can help this situation. You no longer need to wait for them to behave better, you can influence their behaviour now.

If you step out of the fight, you choose to break the pattern and thus the fight. When the conflict is reduced the relationship is strengthened. If you are dealing with a violent/aggressive child that prospect may seem impossible however, I can tell you that it is not only possible, but achievable. Contact me for more information.


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