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Giraffe Talk for Parents

Non-violent communication is probably the best way to convey any message to another human being.

It allows you to solve conflicts and improve communication in any type of relationship. The man who developed this great system was called Marshall Rosenberg, and he reasoned that there were two viewpoints through which we perceive and interact with the world; the Jackal and the Giraffe. His reasoning was that, while Jackal was often bound to lead into conflict, Giraffe was inclined to resolve it, and to relay its messages in a way that creates harmony. So, how does this actually work? And how can it be applied to the communication between parents and children? Here are some answers.

The Jackal and the Giraffe

The difference between the Jackal and the Giraffe talk relies on the role of language and words. Namely, the Jackal speaks from reason, from the head, and doesn’t shy away from pointing out to people exactly what’s wrong with them. It tends to classify people into good or bad, right or wrong, and this type of communication often elicits defensive responses and resistance. The language of Jackal is at odds with our compassionate nature, which desires tranquility and understanding. On the other hand, the Giraffe speaks gently and from the heart, allowing our compassion to take over, even in the most aggravating situations. It says words consciously, making requests, unlike Jackal, which speaks automatically and only makes demands. So, in order to communicate non-violently, it’s essential that we learn how to speak Giraffe, especially when talking to young children, who still haven’t formed their personality.

How can parents use Giraffe talk?

When parents are fluent in Giraffe language, they can use it to improve their communication and their relationship with their little ones. For instance, if a child creates a mess in your living room, leaving their toys all around the floor, the sofa, and the coffee table, you may react habitually and use Jackal language to snap at your child, telling them they’ve made a mess again, and you want it cleaned up immediately. However, this can upset both you and your child, resulting in them either doing what you want, but with a grudge, or refusing to do what you told them to in frustration. On the other hand, if you tell them kindly that you feel angry because the entire room is a mess, and you really want it to be tidy, and that you’d feel much better if they put their toys in their toy box, you can avoid the conflict, and still get the message through.

How can children benefit from Giraffe talk?

Children can benefit from Giraffe talk in many ways. For instance, it may encourage them to be more emphatic, more assertive, and compassionate. The patience and respect you show them are something they’ll be able to show in their encounters with other children and people. Children will mimic the way you communicate at home as a family. This can make it easier for them to meet and connect with other children their age if, for example, you enroll them in a creative playgroup. It can also help them with getting across any message once they start school, but also later in life, when they apply for different jobs, and are required to work in teams.

Clear requests rather than punishment

Jackal talk is designed to punish your wants and feelings, while Giraffe talk works towards getting a request through clearly. For instance, if your son is trying to break a toy your daughter likes to play with, yelling at him or simply ordering him to stop without an explanation may cause him to try and do it again afterwards, and retaliate for making them feel guilty and bad. However, if you use Giraffe talk, and ask him if he is upset his sister plays with the toy, instead of with him, and if you explain that the toy is precious to his sister, but that she loves her brother much more than the toy, it may calm him down, and solve the problem at its root.

How we talk to our children is just as important as what we say to them, so make sure you always approach your child with the understanding they deserve. Only then will they be able to treat others with that same understanding and respect.

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