How does NVR bring about change, and will it work for me?
It’s a question NVR practitioners are asked often. Does NVR work with autism? Does NVR work with ADHD? Does NVR work with FASD? Does NVR work with trauma? The list goes on.
It’s a tricky question to answer. The short answer is yes but the longer answer is actually more complicated.
NVR is a journey. It’s unlikely that a parent will attend a short NVR parent group of 8 or 10 sessions and by the end of that course embody NVR in their relationship with their child. NVR takes time to learn and understand how it all fits together, and it takes time to put into practice.
Often at the beginning of the NVR journey, we can’t even begin to consider incorporating some of the elements of NVR into our lives. Prochaska and DiClemente’s stages of change model describes the psychological phases we move through before we’re in a position to change a course of action: there’s almost always a level of resistance we need to work through:
“I couldn’t possibly let the neighbours know what’s going on in our home! What on earth would they think?”
“If I dared to try and set limits around my son’s gaming use, I dread to think what would happen!”
We all come to NVR at different points in our readiness to ‘do whatever it takes’ to connect positively with our children when they’re struggling, to have difficult conversations, to take a stand against unacceptable behaviours, to increase our influence in their lives.
Sometimes, we’re only able to take in a fraction of what’s presented in a parent group, or in one to one work with a practitioner. We hear what we can hear at any given point in time. For a complex variety of reasons, we’re just not in a position to hear any more at that point. As time passes, if we stay on the journey, if we build what we’ve understood into our lives, we’ll be ready to hear more.
There's a journey that begins with attending an NVR parent group, or working with an NVR practitioner. The length of time it takes to get to a place of living out NVR in the relationships with our children, and the support we need to get there, very much depends on our starting point as well as lots of other factors.
Whatever the circumstances, straight away, NVR gives us a set of tools that, if we put them into practice, will bring a level of change. Consistently pressing the pause button when things get heated, and saying less around an escalated child or young person, will reduce the intensity of the situation as well as any associated risk. Prioritising behaviours we find tricky, and deciding to let some of them go, will mean we’re spending less time interacting about problems which will soon impact how we’re perceived by our children. Making a point of demonstrating our care and concern through our actions, regardless of their behaviour, sends a positive message about who we are and what matters to us. And so on with the other elements of NVR.
So, if that’s all attending a parent group or working with a practitioner achieves, that’s still something of a positive impact on the relationship and on family life. What happens more often is that those small changes cause everybody to feel safer around each other and that paves the way for us to go deeper.
NVR is about us as parents - our wellbeing, our mindset, our values, our expectations, our actions, and our responses. It isn’t so much about how we support our children to change their behaviour, as it is about how we embody and communicate our values, how we interact with our children, and how we choose to respond to behaviour that worries us. For most of us that involves deep work, over time, sometimes with the support of professionals - getting to grips with our history and how that’s impacting our children’s lives today, understanding our nervous system and the states we move between, unpicking our unique triggers, learning what we need and exploring how we can take better care of ourselves. Holding ourselves to a high standard within the context of self-compassion and acceptance of our humanity.
Many of us, years down the line since we started out on this journey, are parenting largely the same core difficulties we were parenting when we started out. Our children who used to get overwhelmed easily are still wired that way, the same with our children who, by default, ‘leap before they look.’ Our boundary pushers are still testing those boundaries. Where harmful behaviour was fuelled by shame and rage, those deep-seated emotions are often still around, and still get triggered.
But we’re different, and so we experience everything differently, and we respond differently. As we respond differently, our children experience us differently, and they respond differently. Our connection deepens. Our influence increases.
So yes, “NVR works with ……”
If you want to hear more, have a story to share, or you think we can help, we’d love to hear from you.