NON VIOLENT RESISTANCE
NVR stands for Non Violent Resistance and is a newly developed approach that is used to respond to aggressive, violent, self-destructive and controlling behaviours. Modifications of this model have successfully been used with young people with anxiety, addiction to the internet, substance misuse, risk of child sexual exploitation, self -harm, refusal of school attendance and many other problem areas.
In Non Violent Resistance, parents or caregivers learn to raise their parental presence, avoid the unhelpful and painful battles of the past, acquire a position of strength and not give in to unreasonable demands of the young person.
NVR is not about changing the behavior of the child but changing the behavior of the adult responding to it. There are four areas in which parents – with support – become active:
Parents will develop tools to manage risk without getting into escalatory conversations or power struggles. Removing themselves from these conversations allows the parent to not act in the heat of the moment, but instead take time to reflect and challenge the behavior once calmer.
TAKING BACK PARENTAL FREEDOM
Parents and carers of young people with challenging behavior may have a tendency to avoid taking action because of fear or shame. With support, they are able to resist the ‘rules’ set by the young person, regain parental presence and take back the freedom to act as adults and parents.
TAKING NON-VIOLENT POSITIVE ACTION
Parents or carers raise their presence in and out of the home by carefully planning delayed action. Punishment in response to consequence no longer works and results in escalatory behavior patterns.
These are small, unconditional gestures of love that give the supporter, parent or carer the chance to do something nice for the young person. This allows an opportunity for you all to show affection and care and focus on the child’s needs.
NVR POSITIVE ACTION METHODS
When a young person repeatedly demonstrates harmful behavior, positive action can address this. As the supporter, your role may change depending on which action method is used. Prior planning will take place for each of these.
This is a letter that is read to the young person by one significant or relevant adult with the support of their network. The letter will allow the adult to highlight the positive traits they see in the child, whilst also addressing the harmful behaviour and informing the child that they will resist such behaviour, not keep it private or secret, involve other adults to help everyone, but that they will not act violently themselves or humiliate the child in any way.
A SIT IN
A sit in is where we gather together a small number of supporters who care about the young person and deliver a silent protest whilst also giving a strong message that we as the group will no longer accept the negative behaviour. Sit ins can take place in different locations including the young person’s bedroom, at school or even the family home. This is planned carefully beforehand. Part of the message is the request for a solution. Once the message has been delivered, the group remains in this space and sits silently for up to 30 minutes or leaves once the young person has made a realistic suggestion of how they will control themselves in the future or make reparation for what they have done.
CAMPAIGN OF CONCERN
After an incident, supporters are asked to send the young person a message individually about a particular behaviour. They may be asked to acknowledge positive behaviour or challenge the child them after a problematic incident. Supporters are also encouraged to send or offer reconciliation gestures spontaneously throughout.
HOW LONG DOES NVR LAST? HOW INVOLVED DO I NEED TO BE?
Resisting violent and controlling behavior is a hard struggle. Parents or guardians of our young people require a commitment from their friends, family or supporters to invest an agreed amount of time to help resist and take action. It is important that the time agreed is achievable so involvement can be consistent.
All interventions should be planned for up to 3 months and then reviewed. Supporters meetings can be booked to take place once a month to allow an opportunity to discuss each person’s role and the action they have taken to gain feedback and support.
IS THIS APPROACH EFFECTIVE?
A number of recent outcome studies have shown that NVR is very effective in improving the behaviour of a large percentage of young people, reducing parents’ feelings of helplessness and raising their confidence, as well as bringing about a more peaceful atmosphere all round in the family.
CAN THIS BE DONE WITH OTHER PROBLEMS, AS WELL?
NVR is a model which can easily be adapted to challenge a number of difficult and damaging behaviours. By non-violently challenging destructive behaviour, it makes it an appropriate course of action for a range of harmful or self-destructive behaviours. Eating disorders, self-harm and suicidal behaviours are amongst many that have effectively been challenged. NVR can also be used as a support in resisting domestic violence.
THE DIFFERENT ROLES OF A SUPPORTER
When supporting a family and young person, there are many roles a supporter can play. These roles do require commitment, so it is important that when choosing your position, you take into consideration the time you have available to lend. Some examples of support are as follows:
CAMPAIGN OF CONCERN
Sending messages in response to behaviours demonstrated by the young person. This could be to challenge negative behaviour or praising the good, or even a welfare check to show them your unconditional love. These messages can be sent via email, text, by phone call or (best even) face to face.
SUPPORTING POSITIVE ACTION
You are actually physically present when parents or carers take action that may be chosen to resist riskier or dangerous behaviours. This may be to support a parent whilst they deliver a strong message during an announcement or to actively take part in a sit-in or ‘house occupation’.
This role is to help support family members in their own journey with NVR. You may e.g. provide childcare if and when necessary for other siblings or help check in and support parents and provide emotional support.
THE DIFFERENT ROLES
OF A SUPPORTER
As a supporter, you may be called upon to send a young person a message when they have demonstrated a particularly harmful or negative behaviour, or to acknowledge when they have achieved self -control. We structure these messages in 2 parts.
First – This is where you challenge the behaviour and where you ask for a solution from the young person.
Second – You end the message with something you look forward to sharing with the young person.
"Hi (name) I was sorry to hear you had (behaviour) and not used your solutions, you need to find a way you can stop this
from happening again. I look forward to seeing you soon and enjoying (something you will share with the young person)."
Interactions with our young people may not always be pleasant, and you may find yourself on the end of a difficult and challenging behaviour. Here are some simple statements you can use to avoid escalating conversations.
I can see you are angry so I’m going to give you some space and we can talk again when you feel ready.
I can’t accept the way you are talking to me so I’m going to end the call and we can speak again once you feel ready.
I can’t answer that right now; I need time to think about it.
It is important that you follow your statements up with the action. Strike while the iron is cold! Allow yourself time to reflect, discuss the unwanted behaviour once everyone is calm and settled.