Ourselves, our kids? Nonviolent Communication and Neurobiology of Attachment

Have you ever wondered why, even despite our best intentions, our knowledge, the books and articles we read, our being part of parenting communities, our wanting the best for our children, nonetheless when we are under stress and pressure, our best intentions and knowledge sometimes fly out of the window? Have you, in your family, as a parent or a child, ever witnessed or experienced moments when you’d lose your temper? threaten? shout? or would even feel close to physically manhandling your child? Or maybe you have lost your temper with a loved one, a spouse or a friend? All of this, tragically, despite your best intentions and accumulated knowledge.

In this video interview, Sarah Peyton, an internationally renowned Certified Trainer with the Center for Nonviolent Communications gives a brief and fun digest version of why this happens to us, despite our best intentions. I’d totally recommend watching this, as Sarah also shares what we can do to reduce the occurrence of such moments, as parents and family members.

Have you ever wondered why, despite your best efforts and knowledge, you find certain aspects of life with your child difficult, despite these things being important for you or said to be important by many parenting experts? Whether it’s playing with your child, or talking about his feelings – or not talking about his feelings – or supporting your child during difficulties with her friends?

In this interview, Sarah talks about how our early relationships with our caregivers (mothers, fathers, grandparents or nannies etc) shape our Adult Attachment type. That is, how we tend to relate to our children and loved ones. Did you know that, according to studies described in Daniel Siegel’s “Mindsight” your Adult Attachment type*  influences whether your child would have secure attachment to you, as a caregiver, or one of the types of insecure attachment? And, in turn, this may influence the formation of your child’s own Adult Attachment pattern. This, further, would influence how your child is with their own children, loved ones, friends and even at work, achieving their goals! And this would also reflect on how their nervous system and brain would form and perform (source: Daniel Siegel “Neurobiology of We”, Audiobook).

* (this can be identified, for example, via an Adult Attachment Interview, by Dr Mary Main)

As an example, an adult with secure attachment may have an easier time soothing their crying child, and supporting their child through difficulties more fully. An adult with avoidant attachment may say “Never mind!” and may leave their child to cry alone or would get irritated with the display of emotions, so the child would learn to tend to themselves and not rely on that adult in such situations. An adult with ambivalent attachment would sometimes try to soothe their child, and sometimes would loose their temper, so the child would not have reliability in their caregiver. An adult with disorganised attachment may fall apart emotionally when something occurs that reminds them of traumatic events from their past, so the child would be both petrified witnessing the adult’s state and also biologically driven to seek security with their caregiver. (Source: Daniel Siegel, “Parenting from Inside Out”)

The good news (and listen for more in Sarah’s interview) is that you can change your Adult Attachment type from insecure types to secure if you want to. You can start at any point, even now. It’s never too late. What you would get then would be “learned/earned secure attachment”. And you would be able to change your relationship with your kids too.

I hope you may enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed this interview!

Thank you Sarah for so generously agreeing to share your knowledge, skills and wisdom with us. You can look up Sarah’s articles, writings, lectures and training schedule at her website . Her next in-person training in Europe is in Munich, Germany, and she also offers a lot of online events . If you can make it at all, I highly recommend it!

If you have more questions on how our relationships with our kids shape theirs and ours brain and nervous system, you can pick my brain at the upcoming talk in Dublin on 24 March :). Or if you decided to take a plunge and get the skills for changing your relationships with your kids and loved ones, you can join us at the upcoming one-day NVC course in Dublin on 26 March.

NVC does work for bringing more joy, cooperation and peace into your family life, see the testimonials here :).

“The workshop has helped me hugely in identifying the needs behind my own emotions and reactions (following through is something I’m still working on!). It has been very beneficial in working with parents both as a breastfeeding counsellor and babywearing consultant and also in navigating difficult situations as a chair person in a voluntary organisation. And I am much more able to take a step back from situations with my own (now 3) children and being empathetic towards their needs and views of the world.” (Ina D, mother of three, breastfeeding counsellor, babywearing consultant)

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