Wanting change is normal and it’s often at this point parents come to me for help. Things are already difficult and they want change, ideally right away! I understand that (because I’ve been there) but unfortunately it’s not very often we can make changes at the flick of a switch. None of us can. It takes time and effort from the parents to change things within the house and that isn’t easy.
One part of NVR that parents often focus on is the Announcement. As soon as they hear about it they want to do it, thinking that it will change everything. It can be very effective but I don’t recommend doing it very early on. It seems to work better when we’ve spent time building the foundations of the relationship. Obviously every situation is different, and I never say never, but on the whole that’s my experience.
What is the Announcement?
The Announcement is a letter that is written to the child and delivered to them by the parents. It is a clear, firm, yet caring letter that shows your child that you love them, but that a certain behaviour must stop. In it we also include a behaviour that, as parents, we are going to stop as well. We have to be honest here because many of us know that at times we don’t help the situation. For example, I can shout when my son is escalating. I know I shouldn’t but at times I just can’t stop myself. I’m not perfect despite having used NVR for a long time. I do always make sure I apologise and repair afterwards though.
The letter is not about shaming the child, or punishing them, but making it clear that things need to, and will be, changing.
The letter is hugely empowering for the parents and increases the sense of authority within the family.
Planning and preparation are key for the Announcement. When it’s written in a rush, or done at the wrong time (like in the heat of the moment) it won’t work. It needs to be done when things are calm (or at least calm-ish) and the parent has prepared it.
The way the letter is written, the language used and style of communication needs to work for the child. There’s no point using words they won’t understand. The structure can vary a little but it includes:
- An opening sentence where we tell the child what we like about them
- The first statement saying what we will stop doing as parents
- The second statement clearly telling the child what behaviour needs to stop (1 behaviour, not a whole list)
- The third statement telling them which supporters are going to help us with this change
- An ending statement looking towards the future
You’re going to read it out to them, so if it’s too long they will stop listening and it can end up sounding more like a lecture.
Each announcement is only delivered once. If the behaviour continues we move on to do a ‘Sit In’, which can be repeated if necessary.
Done well, and at the right time, the Announcement is a powerful way for parents to actively resist the behaviours and show the child that things need to change. Done at the wrong time and it won’t be as effective.