The Bottom Line
If your attempts to address your child's extreme behavior are met with extreme aggression, trying a more passive and nonviolent approach is a good way to change things up and redirect the conversation. Avoiding escalation and power struggles is good, but as with any parenting technique, this one might not work for everybody. When you're desperate for solutions, though, a short concise action guide like this one is just what you're looking for.
- Short and well-organized for quick reading and action
- Approach helps parents offer resistance without escalating a bad situation
- Techniques are simple and well-explained
- Straightforward and nonemotional communication is great for all parents to learn
- Authors have a second book that goes into more detail on the approach
- May not work for every kid, especially those with more complex special needs
- Not every parent can muster this kind of patience and endurance
- Potential for violence toward parents
- Case study doesn't really illustrate what's gone before
- Chapter 1: Avoiding Escalation
- Chapter 2: The Declaration or Statement of Intent
- Chapter 3: The Sit-In
- Chapter 4: Going Public
- Chapter 5: Telephone Rounds
- Chapter 6: Linking
- Chapter 7: The Sit-Down Strike
- Chapter 8: Refusing Orders
- Chapter 9: Reconciliation
- Chapter 10: Summary: Empowerment and Readiness
Case Example - Thomas: Non-Violent Resistance in Practice
Guide Review - Book Review: Happy Families
Dealing with a child's defiance and aggression can be tough for parents, whether it's a stubborn five-year-old or a rebellious teen. Some moms and dads draw a hard line and confront every bad behavior, escalating a difficult situation into an impossible one. Others withdraw themselves so far from the conflict that they lose all ability to make a meaningful difference.
Happy Families, written by a researcher and a co-director of the Nordoff Robbins Centre in Witten, Germany, proposes a "non-violent resistance" approach that avoids escalation while making it quite clear that silence does not equal acceptance. Through techniques like sit-down strikes and calling everyone in your child's social circle, the approach allows parents to confront dangerous behavior without turning up the emotional volume or allowing the child to be in control.
This is a process that requires a lot of patience, perseverance, and daring from parents who may be feeling embattled and overwhelmed themselves, but this slim guidebook does a good job in presenting the steps in a simple and straightforward way. You can read it quickly and start to think about how you'd put it into action.
If you need more detail and rationale, there's a 190-page version by the same authors, titled A Non-Violent Resistance Approach With Children in Distress: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, but for my money that one spends too many pages on case studies that are specific to the families and critical of the parents. I prefer the shorter, snappier version (even if the case study there doesn't illustrate many of the techniques put forth). The format of the shorter guide also makes it easy to pick and choose the strategies that might work best for your difficult child.