My thoughts on Announcements…
I was recently inspired by a conversation that happened in my free Facebook group – connective Parenting using NVR (come and join us if you aren’t already in there!).
Announcements. This is an aspect of NVR which CAN be very good when used well, but could also have a very negative impact and experience on both the child and the family.
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“For me, the announcement is one of the aspects of NVR that is more formal, and if I’m honest, I don’t use it very often when I’m working with parents and carers.”
The reason being that all the other aspects of NVR are very much focused on the relationship building, parental presence, looking after yourself, de-escalation, reconciliation gestures, having supporters and using the baskets. All of these things really focus on building a relationship and creating connection with the child.
For me, and a number of my colleagues that I work with who are NVR trained, we know that when we focus on those aspects with families, we don’t need to use the Announcement aspect of NVR. We see big enough shifts with the relationship building and connection. We don’t need to use the more formal aspects of NVR which are the announcement and sit in.
When used well, prepared properly and thought through, the announcement and sit in are hugely powerful aspects of this approach. However I can see and understand why for some parents and children, it is not the right thing to do. It could be hugely shaming depending on how it’s done, how it’s delivered and who is there at the time.
If a child is emotionally unable to manage to have a deferred conversion and is not in a place to be able to recognize their own feelings or acknowledge what has happened, an announcement is not necessarily the right thing to do and isn’t going to help. There is much more work around helping the child to understand their emotions and be able to talk about what was happening before getting to the announcement step.
What Actually IS The Announcement?
It is a letter that parents and carers write to the child that is usually delivered by both of the parents or carers, usually in a neutral space such as the livingroom, usually read by the parent or carer that is experiencing the worst of the behaviour, and usually we would only have the parents or carers and child there.
I say usually here because as with everything, there are exceptions to the rules. We may choose to have supporters there. They might just be somewhere in the house so that they are there if the child wants to talk to somebody. Other practitioners will say that the supporter should be in the room and be part of delivering the announcement. I don’t tend to use this approach as I feel it could be very overwhelming for the child and make them very uncomfortable.
Why NOT The Announcement?
For many families that I’ve supported over the years, doing an announcement would have done a disservice to the relationship and connection that family are building.
I often now don’t cover the Announcement in my 1 Day Introduction to Connective Parenting NVR because I don’t want families jumping straight in to the Announcement and Sit in without first building the relationship. For me, Connective Parenting NVR is about building the relationship and through that, bringing around positive change.
If we are not supporting our children to grow and develop, and to understand themselves and their emotions, an announcement is not going to help. They won’t have the skills and the knowledge to recognise their own emotions and know how to regulate themselves.
Should You Use The Announcement?
The announcement CAN be a really important part of NVR, but for me, I believe it is not something parents and carers should feel they have to use.
It’s not an automatic next step and should only be used if it really is needed. When I’m working with parents and carers, I wouldn’t think about introducing an announcement and sit in unless we’ve been using this approach for at least 8 weeks, and that is assuming that the adults around the child are in the position emotionally and physically to be able to have created and focused on working on connection.
I know from my own experience, both as a parent and from working with hundreds of parents and carers, that parents and carers who reach out are usually exhausted and running on empty, and even possibly in blocked care. We need to top up their tanks first before we can start to implement the full NVR approach in terms of raising presence. They can’t do that if they’re running on empty.
In my approach to Connective Parenting NVR, it is not a one sized fits all. I do agree that an Announcement is an incredible powerful part of Connective Parenting NVR, but it needs to be done in the right way at the right time. I never do them with primary aged children (I’m always thinking about the emotional age of the child, not the chronological age of the child), and when it is time to the Announcement, I’d always support the families I work with through it.
I think the announcement can be really effective, BUT it needs to be done well. It needs to be done at the right time, for the right reasons and with the right support in place – not rushed and not done in a way that could shame the child. Shaming the child is not going to change their behaviour.
Thankfully, I haven’t needed to use it very often, because we focus on the relationship and connection building, and through that we see significant change.
Through my training and support in The Connective Parenting Hub, I can help you decide if The Announcement is the right next step for you and if it is, I’ll be there to support you at each step.
If you’re a professional who works with children and families, click here for more helpful resources and support.