Problems with "Nonviolent Communication" (NVC), for Unschooling

-=-On a side note, you mentioned to someone that you don't like NVC. I am very curious to know what it is that bothers you.-=-

It's scripted. It puts a filter between the parent and child. It was never designed for parent/child communications anyway.

I think it creates false peace, and hampers direct communication.

Sandra, in an e-mail in February, 2011

From a 2009 e-mail (name not saved):
Dear Sandra,

I am one of the hundreds of "lurkers" you often reference on your yahoogroup, and I wanted to say thank you for all the work you put into this group.

I was inspired to write because of how wonderful this conversation on NVC has been for me. My first encounter with nvc was through a "friend" (that I no longer talk to, as I felt the relationship was crushing my self-worth, though I didn't understand how) who, now as I look back with knowledge, was using all her NVC techniques at me in every conversation, and I never felt like she was REALLY talking to me and that she was being condescending, but, not understanding what she was doing, I thought that I had some sort of issue with communication.

Anyway, I know that you get a million letters every day but I just wanted to say thank you, and that, once again, this list is helping me move forward.


Sandra, quoting someone else, and responding, 2009:
-=-NVC is a great tool for understanding other people and your own emotion. I think with How to talk...well there is the assumption the parent knows best and can manipulate the child into some goal.-=-
It's an odd tool that doesn't help unschooling. It might be a way to help an adult deal with other adults who have all voluntarily chosen to deal with other adults in that stilted and artificial way, but unschooling needs more direct seeing and fewer filters.


From an interview:

What's your perspective on non-violent communication?

I don't like the false overlay "NVC" puts on the world. I've seen people fail to have direct presence and mindfulness because they were mentally trying to label people and judge their expressions of feeling or desire. I prefer people be compassionate and flexible about communicating with others, rather than to pre-decide there is only one way they will communicate or accept being communicated with.

Although it can be a good healing tool for an adult who suffered years of verbal abuse and is in recovery, as a starting place, as something to impose on or require of others, it's unnatural. As for communication between a child and his parents, it's overkill and takes time that could be better used just listening to one another without wondering what a book or a coach would have to say about it.

Choices and compassion will cover that, in an unschooling family where children and parents live closely together as partners.

August 30, 2010 interview

Meredith Novak, contributing to a list of "priorities than can hamper unschooling":
Specific parenting/communication strategies! Like Non-violent communication (NVC), or consensus processing. When sticking to a particular format for problem solving becomes more important than real people with real needs. Somewhat ironically, the NVC, consensus, and non-coercion folks seem to be the most likely to try to talk their kids into submission, explaining and explaining and explaining until the kids give in (if they're lucky).
The list is at

Andrea Quenneville:
I believe that Sandra has said (multiple times) that nonviolent communication (NVC) can get in the way of unschooling, because people get caught up in the NVC rules or insist that their children follow the method. NVC is often touted as a gentle parenting technique.

Here's an article with some thoughts on NVC:
Nonviolent Communication can hurt people

From a discussion preserved here: Other Ideas

A response to someone on the Unschooling Discussion list in 2007:
Sandra Dodd
Mar 14, 2007, 8:15:48 AM
to [email protected]

-=-I can say that non-violent communication training (not only reading - but actual practice with a certified trainer) for both my children and me has been so helpful! -=-

It puts another overlay of rules between you and your child. New rules, but still rules.
-=- There are ultimate 'No's' - like 'No, you may not destroy property, hit/hurt, threaten people etc.... However, in that "no", we can still say 'yes' to feelings..... and there is whole heck of alot training that we are in the midst of that helps with this....... -=-
This isn't a good direct road to understanding unschooling.

If a child wants to destroy something, you could find something he can destroy and say yes. He probably didn't want to destroy something at all, so you don't need to "say no to destruction," just help learn to keep him from getting to the point that he wants to destroy things.


Sven Hartenstein's image/humor:

Being your child's partner How to Raise a Respected Child Remember your choices

Clarity Quiet Seeing