The 4th pillar of Non-Violent Resistance is ‘Refusing to Give-In’. And here you can really see how Ghandi used NVR effectively in India as ‘refusing to give-in’ was his mantra, despite all the aggression that he faced and throughout the violence that he experienced.
So, take a leaf out of Ghandi’s book and apply this to your child when they are behaving in a negative way. The process of ‘refusing to give in’ is all about showing your child, in a non-confrontational way, how much you mean business. You are showing them that you love them, but that you will not back down on whatever decision you have made, or line you have drawn and you will not accept bad behaviour.
There is a phrase used in the training for NVR that describes how you might put this into practice. It is referred to as acting in a ‘parentally disobedient’ way. In other words, you, the parent, are not behaving as the child expects you to. He or she may have got into the habit of seeing you back down or accept their demands when they exhibit certain types of negative behaviour. When you start to implement the fourth pillar, you change the way that you react to them, you don’t accept their demands, you are ‘disobedient’ and you refuse to give in. Channel Ghandi if it helps!
So if your usual response to anger or aggression is to raise your voice and shout back, then don’t. Your child will probably continue the bad behaviour for a while, trying to provoke you into shouting, but don’t. Just keep your cool and maintain a quiet response or silence. Your child will eventually be thinking: ‘what’s going on here?’ and they’ll stop acting out.
This approach is very simple, but it is highly effective. It can, however take a while to make a difference. You have to keep going and going and going, but eventually they will start to see that this time you are not going to accept their behaviour.
There are several strategies that you can put in place with this pillar, including ‘an announcement’, ‘the sit-in’ and ‘a campaign of concern’. I’m going to cover these next time so that you have some practical tools to use.
One thing you can do straight away is called: ‘breaking the taboo’. Up until now you may have kept quiet amongst your relatives and friends about your child’s bad behaviour. This is probably because you feel a sense of shame or that you might be ‘failing’ them as a parent. Firstly, I need to tell you that this is not true, you are not failing the child (I can tell that by the fact you reading this!) but you may need to change the way that you are interacting with your child.
When you ‘break the taboo’ you do it by changing your behaviour. Start talking openly, and in front of your child, with your friends about his or her bad behaviour. Do be careful how you do it though, so that you are not shaming or embarrassing your child. The idea is to get positive support not to give people a negative image of your child or for your child to feel ashamed. This type of unexpected or ‘taboo’ discussion is another way showing ‘parental disobedience’. Your child is used to you covering up for their bad behaviour, so that it isn’t public knowledge. By changing this and telling other people he or she will realise that you aren’t going to do that any more. This can have the effect of breaking their hold over you and stopping the bad behaviour cycle.
Let me know how you get on in the comments!