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signs of winter and nonviolent communication classes

2017 December 10
by Rachel Turiel

Signs of winter:

Uke concerts by the up and coming band Ocean Blue. They have a fine repertoire of cover hits.

Deer hides coming out of storage for tanning (are you glad I didn’t include the photo of Dan spooning—not a euphemism—brains out of deer skulls?).

Foster dog’s favorite game: steal the stinkiest shoe from the untamed herd of footwear.

The nightly boardgame, in which family togetherness is easy and fun and we still get to bed at 8pm.

Rose’s dolls are back out after being tucked away all summer and fall. At night she pajamas them and reclines them into their shared doll bed. By morning she yanks their stiff limbs into day clothes, trots them out to the couch and bends them into an arthritic sit, where they watch us get ready for school with such lack of solid routine, it’s like we’re amnesiacs starting new each day.

“It’s fun to see the dolls back out again,” I tell Rose, meaning: stay innocent, please.

“No it’s not,” Col interjects. “I hate them.”

Because we’re huge fans of nonviolent communication around here, we believe Marshall Rosenberg when he says that “all judgments are a tragic expression of unmet needs.” Meaning, when we blame others we’re usually feeling pretty crummy (such as: disappointed/frustrated/angry/sad) because some basic, human need of ours isn’t being met (perhaps: autonomy/to be seen/compassion/contribution).

We try not to get ruffled by these verbal firestarters but instead look for what unmet needs might underlie these statements.

Additionally, we do not punish our kids, not because we’re permissive, but because when you understand that all behavior is an attempt to meet healthy universal needs, punishing a child because you didn’t like their behavior is like slapping a band aid on a broken arm. The arm will remain broken. What drives the behavior goes unexamined. Also, punishment is often used to assuage our own anger. So, if we can care for our anger, investigate it, see what thoughts are causing it (when one kid says something hurtful to the other I often think, “Really? We haven’t grown out of this? Come on. There’s enough pain in the world.”) Underneath this hot kick of anger is sadness (I want them to enjoy each other), fear (will they ever be allies?), and frustration (bickering is unpleasant!), none of which will be taken care of by punishment.

“Hmm. When you say you hate Rosie’s dolls, what feelings and needs are you having, Col?” I ask, sipping coffee, which, thanks to Dan, is our one reliable morning event.

Col regards the two dolls propped on the couch, their faces locked in inert perma-grins. “I feel hurt…because I have a need for…realism.”

Fair enough. I tackle Col and aim for the ticklish spots. (Because I have a need for lightness and laughter).

*********EDITED TO ADD:

Col and I took a walk recently to discuss the above incident. After he shared his new theories on Star Wars for about 20 minutes, I asked if we could discuss Rose and the dolls. He agreed. I asked what bothered him about Rose’s dolls. After a few comments about how they’re pointless toys, he said, “and you always say how cute they are!” I asked him if he would like more attention for what he’s into. Yes, he said. How can I best do that in a way that would be meaningful to you? I asked. And he gave me two, concrete, doable requests:

  1. Come into my room while I’m doing legos/reading/drawing and check on me to see what I’m up to and ask if I want to share it with you.
  2. Come into my room while I’m doing legos/reading/drawing and ask me to do something fun with you, like play a game.

I’m so happy that he named these two requests because I so want him to feel seen and to feel a sense of belonging in our house and these requests feel so doable and enjoyable for me!


I am excited to be offering two 5-week nonviolent communication courses here in Durango in the new year. This practice, developed by Marshall Rosenberg and taught on six continents, is a path to navigating difficult interactions with skills that keep you empowered and connected to your own needs while listening deeply to others, for the sake of creating mutually satisfying solutions. This practice has brought greater connection, peace and clarity to my life time and again.
More info here. Testimonials from former class participants here.
I am offering two 5-week courses in the new year:
*Thursdays 3pm – 4:30pm January 18th – February 15th. Smiley Studio 10 FULL with waitlist.
*Wednesdays 5:30pm – 7pm. January 31st – March 5th (break for Valentines Day). FULL with waitlist
Cost: $100
If these class times don’t work for you, but you’re interested in a future nonviolent communication class or a private session, let me know and I’ll add you to the list of people I’ll contact first with info on upcoming class.
Please contact me if you have questions or are interested in registering.

Not posed:

11 Responses leave one →
  1. Sheri permalink
    December 10, 2017

    As usual, so grateful for your perspective. I end up focusing on stifling bickering madness ASAP even though i KNOW that is short sided. Need to get to the root of problem…somehow.Ugh. So needed this read today—thanks!

  2. December 11, 2017

    there certainly is enough pain in the world, which is why it’s so important you are doing what you do. your kids will not be the ones to perpetuate pain. thank you for being you! p.s. any video recordings of ocean blue? love the smiles on their faces. if they need a drummer one day, i’ve got one in training.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      December 12, 2017

      I keep trying to film them, but they claim they’re not quite ready for a public debut. :)

  3. Lindsey permalink
    December 11, 2017

    Since I’m not local and cannot attend a nonviolent communication class, are there any books on the subject you would recommend?

  4. December 11, 2017

    Second the question on book recommendations. Our kiddo is about to turn 3 and while he’s delightful 95% is the time, we could definitely do some more reading for the other 5% :)

  5. December 12, 2017

    Om Mani Padme Hung…

    thank you for continually choosing again, and again, and endlessly again…
    to Be who you are!

    Thou Art Precious to our C(om)munity… and to my humble family… LOVE IS ALL THERE IS!

    head bowed,

    feeble ilg

  6. sarahkeith permalink
    December 16, 2017

    Really wish I were in Durango to take the class! I took one years ago but now have kids and find myself struggling with my five year old. I’m sure our family would benefit from this. Lucky people of Durango!

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