America’s history with nonviolent communication is mostly centered around the Civil Rights Movement, although the history of that movement taught today isn’t completely accurate. Yes, there were people like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who believed in and practiced nonviolence, but there were aspects of that movement that resorted to violence, vandalism, and looting. Nonetheless, when Americans think of nonviolent communication that’s the first thing that comes to mind, and for good reason. Nonviolent communication is essentially the practice of using verbal communication and other non-physical and non-aggressive goals to achieve an intended result. In the case of the Civil Rights Movement, nonviolent communication was used to achieve fair and equal treatment of both whites and blacks. Over time, nonviolent communication has evolved in terms of its scope, and today it’s most commonly used in various programs that aim to teach people how to communicate with one another without having to resort to violence.
Perhaps the largest group of people that are the target of nonviolent communication programs are children. People have come to realize that if we’re truly going to build a society with individuals who never resort to violence and use their words and other actions to make their point, then it’s going to start with our children. When you can get to kids while they’re young and teach them why nonviolent communication is the way to go then they pass that on to their children when they get older, and eventually you live in a society where nonviolent communication is just a part of the ether. Gone are the days when people resorted to physical violence when they were upset or to make a point, and American society would be better for it.
For this to eventually occur, nonviolent communication programs have to focus on every group of people that are in a child’s life. In practice, this means that not only do the programs work with kids and teach them how to behave and how to deescalate situations, but they also work with the parents, with janitors, with teachers, with grandparents, with siblings, and with anyone else who ever interacts with the child. Nonviolent communication programs are only effective when they’re able to reach every person in a child’s life and train them on the practice. When parents, teachers, and siblings also know how to behave in a nonviolent manner, the children not only learn it themselves but they see it in action every single day. The only way nonviolent communication is going to become a central aspect of American society is if these programs can reach every type of person that a child interacts with on a regular basis.
Programs like Nonviolent Communication for the Next Generation understand this. That’s why when they run a nonviolent communication program for kids, they also work with the parents and the teachers in that child’s life. This allows the adults to model the behaviors they’d like to see in the child. At the end of the day, most kids are just modeling the behavior that they’ve seen anyways.