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(31) Parents & Kids

Jerry Seinfeld Analyzes Modern-Day Parenting



In the sixteenth century, Chinese porcelain occasionally arrived in England, sometimes by way of the Levant, sometimes by sea around the Cape of Good Hope. As it was very rare and considered a special treasure, the most accomplished English silversmiths were often commissioned to make mounts for it. Pieces such as these were regarded as suitable for royal gifts or for the furnishing of princely houses. The ewer shown here is one of a group of Chinese porcelains of the Wanli period(1573–1620), with silver-gilt mounts made in London by an unidentified silversmith about 1585. They were all acquired by the Museum from the estate of J. P. Morgan. Ewer, 16th century (ca. 1585).


Only in growth, reform, and change, paradoxically enough, is true security to be found.

-Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Key 7 • Make Your Home a No-Fault Zone

Key Concepts:

• Choose to see conflict as a problem to solve.

• Trust that your needs can get met.

• Trust that needs will lead to solutions.

• Co-operate to resolve conflicts.

• Move from the Battle Zone to the No-Fault Zone.

Keys 1 through 6 have been gradually showing you how to transform your home into a No-Fault Zone.

These are the characteristics of a No-Fault Zone:

Everyone attempts to understand the good reasons people do things.

Everyone trusts that each person’s needs will be considered and cared for.

Everyone learns to focus on needs rather than on criticism or blame.

Everyone co-operates to make life more fun and wonderful for one another.

Transforming your home into a No-Fault Zone has the potential to reduce conflict by 90 percent. To handle the other 10 percent that does come up, we share a way of seeing conflict that may be new to you. We also address the choices you have for handling heated interactions and give specific suggestions for working with these interactions co-operatively. We realize that growing the capacity to sustain fault-free interactions requirepractice and that there will be days when you are in the zone you want to be in and days when you aren’t. For those off days and times, ideas are given for how to get back to your purpose for parenting and to your intention for co-operative interaction.

Choose to See Conflict as a Problem to Solve

 Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.


Conflict has gotten a bad rap. It is usually considered something to avoid, and parents often think that something’s wrong with them or with their family when conflicts arise. Wherever people meet, however, there are going to be some clashes-some occasions when you bump into each other in the hallway of life. Learning together how to move around and with each other at these moments will serve you and your children well, now and for the rest of your lifelong relationship.

The most common conflicts in homes everywhere have to do with ordinary, daily situations—bedtimes and rising times, sharing toys and household chores, what to buy at the store, and when and how to get out the door in the morning. These everyday occurrences don’t have to become conflicts. With giraffe eyes and ears they can be viewed as puzzles or problems to solve and turned into discussions rather than arguments or fights. From this less emotional perspective, disagreements and clashes can be a chance for family members to reevaluate and explore their options as well as an opportunity for them to learn more about each other.

What stands in the way of seeing daily differences as problems to solve, rather than conflicts, is fear. Specifically, it is the fear that I’m not going to be able to meet my needs. This fear can quickly lead to anger (or other intense emotions), defensiveness, or aggression. When every member of the family trusts that his or her needs matter and will be addressed, the fear, tension, anger, and defensiveness surrounding everyday interactions begin to dissolve. Only then will you be able to welcome differences as problems to solve and opportunities to deepen family connections. The good news is, it takes only one person-one person practicing the skills developed in this book and trusting that by addressing everyone’s needs differences can be worked out-to avert conflict. By developing your skills and holding this trust for your family, you can be the one to allay fears and prevent, reduce, and resolve conflict in your home.

The following story is an example of how a father averted conflict by focusing on his son’s and his own needs rather than letting his fear turn to anger:

Dale, a dad who practices NVC, came home from work one day. Before he was through the door, his four-year-old son, Stevie, bounced up to greet him, grabbing hold of his pant leg and exclaiming, Daddy, daddy, come play with me! Immediately, Dale put his hand out to get some distance between them. Tension was apparent in his voice, not right now. Daddy’s tired. I can play later. Feeling this resistance, the boy started jumping up and down with insistence. Dale reacted in kind, repeating his message with increased firmness: I said, not right now. I’ll play with you later.

Then Dale stopped in his tracks. He noticed how uptight he was feeling and how sad, too, to feel and hear his negative response to Stevie’s exuberance and eagerness to play with him. He knew he didn’t want to continue on that track, so he took a couple of deep breaths and took a Time In to connect with his feelings and needs. Hmmm. I’m feeling afraid. I see I’m worried I won’t get a chance to wash up and unwind. I need to protect myself, so I can shift my energy and relax. I really want to connect and play with Stevie. Feeling more self-connected, Dale turned to his son with a proposal: Hey, Stevie, I see you are really ready to play. And I’d like to play with you, too. I’d also like to change my clothes and wash up a bit. I have an idea. How about we sit on the couch for five minutes and you tell me all about your day. Then I’ll go do the things I need to do before we play. What do you say? Stevie responded, how long will it take you, Dad? And Dale replied, I estimate fifteen minutes. Shall we time it?

In some situations it may take more rounds of conversation than this to come up with a plan that everyone agrees to. However, Dale’s ability to get into a problem-solving conversation with Stevie rather than get into a conflict is what made all the difference here. When Dale noticed his fear that his need for relaxation wouldn’t be met, he made a strategic choice: to stop going with the fear and instead take a Time In to check in with himself. He could then see that, along with relaxation, he also had a need to connect with Stevie. And he wanted to contribute to Stevie’s needs for play and connection. Since Dale knew that there are ample strategies in the world to fulfill needs, it didn’t take him long to shift his focus from protecting himself to proposing something that could work to meet both their needs.

When you don’t see how you will meet all the needs present, you might feel perplexed, frustrated, or conflicted. However, it is when you also believe that you can’t meet your needs that you will feel stronger feelings of fear, irritation, or desperation. Parents who know that there are abundant resources for solving problems find they can shift out of fear more quickly and relax when they don’t know exactly how things will work out. When parents relax and trust that solutions are just around the corner, kids will relax, too, and trust that there are almost always satisfying solutions to be found.


(33) Parents & Kids

What Kids Say To Parents vs What They Want To Say


Trust That Your Needs Can Get Met

The most destructive element in the human mind is fear. Fear creates aggressiveness.

-Dorothy Thompson

To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

-Buckminster Fuller

What makes it so difficult at times to trust that your needs can get met?


Read more...

(34) Parents & Kids

 Dr. Gabor Maté: Consequences of Stressed Parenting

Attentive Parenting® Program


Family Activities & Stories from the No-Fault Zone

 In all cultures, language sustains certain ways of seeing, thinking, expressing, and listening. Giraffe Language expresses and supports a culture that values honesty, compassion, and respectful interactions. It demonstrates the love that is promoted by spiritual traditions around the world.

For thousands of years, however, people have been learning and using language that makes respectful, co-operative relationships difficult. This language has contributed to a tremendous amount of pain in the world, including conflicts that arise every day in families.

Jackal Language

The Jackal is the symbol of this habitual language because jackals run low to the ground and have a limited view of things. When thinking and speaking in Jackal Language, a person sees a very limited range of choices about how to do things:

Labels people: You’re mean. She’s bossy. He’s dumb. I’m lazy.

Judges: I’m right. You’re wrong. We’re good. They’re bad.

Blames: It’s her fault. You should have. I’m to blame.

Denies choice: You have to. You can’t. I can’t. They made me.

Makes demands: If you don’t do what I say, you’ll be sorry.

Far from facilitating heartfelt connections and co-operation, Jackal Language serves to disconnect people from themselves and one another. Yet with no other models for a different way of speaking, it is taken for granted.

Giraffe Language

The language of compassion goes by many names: Nonviolent Communication (NVC), Compassionate Communication, and the Language of Life. It is also known as Giraffe Language because giraffes have the largest heart of any land animal and because the giraffe’s neck gives it a long and broad perspective on life.

A Giraffe perspective includes vision and a big heart-an integration of thinking and feeling. People speaking Giraffe Language can see many ways to meet needs, and they stick their necks out to be honest about what’s going on for them, to ask for what they want, and to listen to what others feel and need.

Many teachers of NVC use Giraffe and Jackal puppets and ears to clarify key distinctions. The puppets and ears also provide visual cues for role-plays and contribute fun and laughter to the learning process.

Puppets and ears are not necessary for learning NVC; however, most young children and adults enjoy them. Young people between the ages of ten and eighteen years old often view puppets and ears as childish.

Giraffe and Jackal metaphors are meant to be convenient and fun terms referring to two kinds of thinking, not labels to support a belief that there are two kinds of people. We are all susceptible to Jackal thinking, listening, and talking. And anyone can begin now to learn Giraffe, a language of compassion and respect.

Family Activities & Stories from the No-Fault Zone

1. The International Center for Nonviolent Communication’s use of the image and term Giraffe is in no way connected to The Giraffe Project, a completely separate organization that has its own training and educational materials.

2. Puppets and ears can be purchased at the website for the Center for Nonviolent Communication, Some of the activities in this book make use of Giraffe and Jackal Ears, so we have included a template for making your own. (See “Giraffe & Jackal Ears” in Topic: Giraffe & Jackal Play.)

Topic: Family Meetings

Title: Co-Create Agreements

Objective: To make and work with family agreements that meet needs for everyone

Type of Activity

When everyone who is affected by agreements also participates in making them, several things happen that contribute to respect and co-operation. Everyone becomes an active participant in family decision-making. And co-creating family agreements generally meets needs for participation, respect, consideration, and assurance that needs matter in the home, for parents as well as for kids.

In contrast, when parents set the rules and determine the consequences for breaking them, parents become the enforcers who note when transgressions occur and hand out punishments.

To co-create family agreements, begin by asking the question: What kind of home do you want? What do you need to feel safe enough to be yourself?

Needs most often expressed are safety, learning, respect, consideration for others, and care for the environment. Once a list of needs is generated, each family member can list some behaviors that would help meet those needs.

So what happens when someone in the family does something that doesn’t meet the needs expressed by the other family members?

Any family member can (1) express what s/he observes, (2) express how s/he feels about what is going on, (3) say what needs s/he has that are not met by what is happening, and (4) make a very specific request.

The primary point to be made here is that no one steps in to punish a wrongdoer. Those people who are affected when another family member doesn’t observe the agreements need to speak for themselves and ask for what they want.

Topic: Family Meetings

Title: Create a Mission Statement

Objective: To create a family statement of how you want to interact with one another and what is individually and collectively important to you (this is a good way to establish a sense of safety, trust, and belonging)

Type of Activity: Discussing and writing

Materials: White or colored paper, colored markers and/or colored pencils

Procedure: Each person contributes ideas about what she or he needs to feel physically and emotionally safe. Compile the ideas into one statement. See the following examples:

Example 1:

We want to make our home a place that is safe for everyone-A place where we are allowed to feel what we feel, to need what we need, and to ask for what we want to meet our needs,

A place where we can be honest and say the truth as we each see it,

A place where there is no criticizing, blaming, or shaming

A place where the needs of each of us are seen as equally important, and where

We all work together to meet the most needs possible.

Example 2:

This is a Safe Place.

We laugh, we learn, & we grow, together.

Your statement can be decorated, framed, and hung where everyone can see it as a reminder of what you have all decided you want your home to be. It serves as your mutual vision for the family you want to create. You can work together to bring your daily practices into alignment with your family statement.


(35) Parents & Kids

Parenting War Stories

Modern Families - Fresh Ideas - Parenting


Family Meetings

 Family Empathy Check-In

Objective: To connect with your feelings and needs, and with family members

Type of Activity: Interactive

Materials: Feelings and Needs Cards (find them in Topic: Giraffe & Jackal Play) (optional: a Feelings List and a Needs List to refer to and to make extra cards)


1. Sit around a table or in a circle on the floor. Spread all of the Needs Cards, face up, in the space between you, so everyone can see them.

2. One person (the Speaker) holds all of the Feelings Cards. The Speaker tells a short story about something that happened recently and chooses the Feelings Cards that represent his or her feelings in the situation, then puts these cards, face up, in front of him or her.

3. The person to the left of the Speaker makes an empathic guess by picking up one Needs Card, placing it in front of the Speaker, and asking the Speaker: I wonder if you feel/felt (reflect one or more of the Feelings that the Speaker mentioned) because you need/needed (state the need on the selected Needs Card)?

The Speaker does not respond to this or any of the subsequent guesses until all guesses are made. The Speaker simply receives empathic guesses and reflects on the needs that are offered.

4. Continuing around the circle, one person at a time takes a turn making an empathic guess and putting before the Speaker one Needs Card. When a player senses that the relevant needs have been guessed and there are no more Needs Cards on the floor that they want to guess, the player may say, I pass.

5. When all guesses have been made, the Speaker says which needs hit home the most. At this point, the Speaker can also select any Needs Cards that weren’t guessed that are important in the situation. Then, all Needs Cards go back in the center and the Feelings Cards are passed to the player on the left, who becomes the new Speaker.

Variation: Wild Cards

Jokers/wild cards can be used to guess any additional feelings and needs that are not already in the deck.

Variation: Show of Cards

For a quick family check-in, each family member starts with a deck of Feelings & Needs Cards. At the beginning of Family Meetings, or anytime someone calls for a “Show of Cards,” each person can hold up for others to see, the Feelings Card(s) and Needs Card(s) that express what’s going on for them.

Topic: Family Meetings

 Title: Is That an Observation?

Objective: To distinguish between observations and evaluations Type of Activity: Reading, writing, sorting, discussing, and game playing

Materials: 3 different colors of construction paper, felt pen, Statement Strips (see following page)


Observation: A statement that is free from judgment or evaluation of any kind. To make an observation, pretend you are looking through the lens of a video camera, and then describe the sights and sounds the camera would record. An example of an observation is, I see you looking in your book while I’m talking to you.

Evaluation: A statement that contains your beliefs, thoughts, and opinions about what you are seeing or hearing. An example of an evaluation is, You never listen to me.


1. Review the difference between observations and evaluations.

2. Cut out the Statement Strips, fold them in half, and place them in a bowl.

3. Write headings on the construction paper: OBSERVATION, EVALUATION, and “?”  for statements you are uncertain about) and place the papers in the center of a table.

4. One at a time, each person at the table draws a folded strip of paper, decides whether it is an observation, evaluation, or whether she or he is uncertain, and then places it on the appropriate piece of construction paper.

5. Continue taking turns until all the strips have been placed on one of the three pieces of paper.

6. Then, discuss and decide together where to place strips placed on the piece of construction paper marked “?”.

7. When all strips have been placed on the Observation or the Evaluation papers, read all of the Observations to see if any Evaluations have been mixed in. Also, read all of the Evaluations to see if any Observations have been mixed in with them.

Topic: Family Meetings

Title: Needs List

Objective: To understand needs, develop a needs vocabulary, & have a common list of needs to refer to

Type of Activity: Discussing and writing

Materials: Large piece of white paper or poster board, colored markers and/or colored pencils


1. Discuss the things that everyone in the world needs and write them on the paper or poster board.

2. Illustrate the needs where possible.

3. Make a decorative border and put it on the refrigerator door.

 Topic: Family Meetings

Title: Needs Mandala

Objective: To develop a vocabulary and appreciation of needs

Type of Activity: Art and writing

Materials: Large piece of cardboard, old magazines with lots of pictures, glue, ribbon


1. Cut a large circle from a piece of cardboard.

2. Draw lines to divide the circle into six parts. (The divisions don’t need to be pie shapes.)

3. Write one of the following in each area: Survival needs (food, water, shelter), Safety/Protection, Belonging/Acceptance, Learning/Respect, Choice/Self-Direction, Community.

4. Cut out pictures from magazines to represent these needs and glue them on the circle.

5. When all of the cardboard is covered, glue a piece of ribbon or piping around the edge of the circle to frame it, and then hang it on a wall. If you want to make it into a mobile, decorate both sides and hang it from the ceiling.

 Topic: Family Meetings

Title: Needs Treasure Chest

Objective: To develop a vocabulary of needs; to honor the preciousness of needs

Type of Activity: Art and writing

Materials: Colored paper cut into jewel shapes (circles, diamonds, hearts, squares, rectangles, etc.), envelopes


1. Ask everyone what is important to each of them (what they value) in relationships with friends, in themselves, in family members, in nature, in school, at home, etc.

2. Suggest that needs are like precious jewels.

3. Write what you value on the paper jewels.

4. Decorate the envelopes to be the treasure chests for the jewels.

5. Share your jewels with one another.

6. Notice common needs and values that everyone agrees are important.

Topic: Family Meetings

Title: Fortune Cookies

Objective: To learn to distinguish between observations and evaluations

Type of Activity: Co-operative game

Materials: A plate of fortune cookies, enough for 4–5 cookies for each family member; a set of 4 cards for each person (3 x 5 inch index cards work well). On the first card, write a 

large F or the word Fortune; on the second card, make a large E or Evaluation; on the third card, write a large O or Observation; on the last card, write a ? (Question mark).


Discuss the distinctions between:

A Fortune: a statement that something will happen in the future

You will have good luck tomorrow.

An Evaluation: a statement pretending to know what a person is

You are a happy person.

An Observation: something that a video camera could see or a tape recorder could record The cat is sitting in your lap purring.


This is a dessert game so you could make a pot of tea to go with the cookies.

The idea is to have fun while exploring together the difference between a fortune, an evaluation, and an observation by reading from the slips of paper in fortune cookies.

Take turns picking out a fortune cookie, opening it, and reading the fortune. (And eating t if you want.) Everyone then holds up a card to indicate they don’t know or they think the statement is a Fortune, an Evaluation, or an Observation. Continue as long as everyone’s having fun.

Variation: Paper Cookies

Make your own paper fortune cookies by cutting out 3- or 4-inch round pieces of tan paper. Fold each piece twice to resemble the shape of a fortune cookie. Open up the “cookies” and whoever wants to writes a statement inside that could be a fortune, an observation, an evaluation, or something else. Then fold the cookies and place them in a bowl. One at a time, select a cookie, read it, and discuss what type of statement it is.




(36) Parents & Kids

Prof. Susan Engel: "How We Should Educate Today's Children"

Center for Nonviolent Communication: An International Organization

Learning SuccessTM Institute


Topic: Family Meetings

Title: Feelings Leaves

 Objective: To see the connection between feelings and needs (feelings arise from our met and unmet needs)

Type of Activity: Art

Materials: Large chart paper, several 6-inch squares of green paper, crayons, markers, tape


Introduce the concept of universal needs and create a Needs List prior to this activity. (For samples of needs lists, see Keys 2 See the Needs Behind Every Action & 5 Use a Language of Respect and the activity - “Needs List” in Topic: Family Meetings.)

Familiarize yourself with the connection between Feelings and Needs. (See Keys 2 & 5.)


1. On the chart paper, someone draws two large trees without leaves. One tree has upturned branches and the title: When Needs Are Met. The other tree has downturned branches with the title: When Needs Are Not Met.

2. Explore where feelings come from, suggesting that all of our feelings come from our needs. Some feelings arise when our needs are met.

Explore: What feelings do you have when your need for hunger is met? For play? For learning something new? Some other feelings arise when our needs are not met. Explore: What feelings do you have when your need for rest is not met? For understanding? For friends?

3. Make Feeling Leaves by folding squares of green paper in half and tearing them in the shape of a half leaf, then unfolding the paper to reveal a leaf. You can also use scissors to cut leaf shapes. Copy feelings words from the Feelings List in Key 5 onto the leaves, one feeling word per leaf.

4. Spread the leaves on a table or on the floor. Place them so the feeling word is showing. Then, one at a time, pick up a leaf, say the feeling word, and decide if you feel this feeling when your need is met or when it is not met. Then tape the feeling leaf to the tree you think it belongs to. (Note: Most feeling words are clearly associated with met or unmet needs. Some feeling words, like “surprise” could go on either tree.)

Topic: Family Meetings

Title: Chain of Gift Giving

Objective: To appreciate the many gifts family members have to give

Type of Activity: Interactive

Materials: Typing paper, strips of construction paper (1 x 9 inches) in many colors, glue, tape, or stapler Procedure:

1. Have each member of the family put his or her name at the top of a piece of paper and make a list of the gifts they have to give. Other members of the family can contribute to what goes on the list.

2. Cut construction paper into strips about 1 inch by 9 inches.

3. Each family member then copies each gift from their list to a colored strip of paper.

4. Assemble a chain of gifts family members have to give and tack it around a doorway or place it in some other agreed-upon place.

5. Keep adding to the chain.

Topic: Life-Enriching Practices

Title: Give Gratitude

Objective: To nurture your compassionate heart; to develop a practice that supports choice and respectful interactions Type of Activity: Family discussion, family journaling, individual journaling

Materials: One notebook for a Family Gratitude Journal or individual notebooks


1. Discuss the meaning and feeling of gratitude. Use the following quotes for inspiration:

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. - French proverb

The more you practice the art of thankfulness, the more you have to be thankful for. This, of course, is a fact. Thankfulness does tend to reproduce in kind. The attitude of gratitude revitalizes the entire mental process by activating all other attitudes, thus stimulating creativity. - Norman Vincent Peale

2. Take turns giving one answer to the question: For what are you grateful?

3. Make a Family Gratitude Journal, where family members can add one gratitude per page, writing or drawing about what it is they are grateful for.

4. Individuals can make their own Gratitude Journal to fill in at the end of the day. You can use purchased notebooks with lined or blank pages or you can make your own book. You can also create Gratitude Journal pages with a form similar to this:


My need for… was met today… when ….


Key 1. Parent with Purpose

Key 2. See the Needs Behind Every Action

Key 3. Create Safety, Trust, & Belonging

Key 4. Inspire Giving

Key 5. Use a Language of Respect

Key 6. Learn Together As You Go

Key 7. Make Your Home a No-Fault Zone



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