What are reconciliation gestures?

by | Apr 18, 2019

Reconciliation gestures is a technique used in the NVR (Non-Violent Resistance) approach. If you have never experienced NVR, much of it can seem counter intuitive, particularly if your parenting approach is currently based on traditional methods. 

For many though, as soon as they hear about it, they see how it can work and how effective it can be.

One of the areas people often find the hardest is reconciliation gestures.  They are also referred to as relational gestures. 

We use these gestures to show our children we love them unconditionally.  It might be as simple as a hug or a smile. For older children, it could be the language that you use to talk to them.  

We use these gestures even when things are difficult, not just when things are going well.  Understandably this can be hard to get your head around.  Why would you do a gesture when your child’s behaviour is challenging?

One parent said to me, ”they don’t deserve anything”.  That is arguably my point.  They are feeling bad about themselves and undeserving. That’s why we need to show them that we still love them.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we do something nice straight after a major meltdown.  These gestures are not a reward for bad behaviour, in fact they are not a reward at all. 

In the eyes of the child they are spontaneous and not something they have to work for.  They don’t have to work for our love because we love our children whatever (OK, I know that we may not always feel like that).

By focusing on and strengthening the relationship, your child will realise how much you value them and the bad behaviour will start to reduce.  This is not an overnight change unfortunately, it will take time and if you use the gestures with the other aspects of NVR it will be even more effective. 

You might find that they reject these gestures to start with because they genuinely don’t feel that they deserve them, and they can’t cope with you showing that you care. It’s only once you are doing them consistently that they will start to feel valued and deserving of this type of attention.

I always recommend to parents that they keep the gestures small. It’s not about buying things for your child.  Notes, text messages and their favourite meal are all ideas you can use.  If your child has low self esteem, very small gestures are easier to accept.

You can also use these gestures with family, friends and supporters.  Send them a note in the post, give them a call, or send a text message.  All lovely ways to say ”I’m thinking of you” and/or ”thank you for everything you do”.   

Give the gestures a try. They not only help the child feel better but they reconnect you, as the parent, with positive feelings for yourself and your child at the same time, which is always a good thing!

If you’d like more ideas and support with NVR, come and join my free community www.facebook.com/groups/connectiveparentingusingnvr.