For Families
June 19, 2023

Using Nonviolent communication to address challenges/conflict

Unlock the power of Non-Violent Communication (NVC) to strengthen and navigate the delicate nanny-parent relationship. Dive deep into observation, feelings, and needs to foster understanding and build lasting bonds.Communication is the key to creating and maintaining a solid foundation for the nanny-parent relationship. When challenges arise in a nanny-parent relationship it can be emotional and stressful for all involved. Non-violent communication is a tool to approach these tough situations with compassion and consciousness. The basic concept of NVC is that at the core of our actions are needs that we are seeking to meet. NVC is an excellent framework for approaching challenging situations and conflict with the goal of understanding everyone's needs and maintaining trust and connection. 

NVC is made up of two parts: expressing ourselves to others and hearing others. These two parts can be expressed through:

  • Observations- identifying what is happening in each moment without attaching meaning, judgements or evaluation.
  • Feelings- Identifying, connecting and naming how we are feeling. Focus on how we are feeling in our own experience as opposed to what we think about other people's actions.
  • Needs- Our needs are what connect us all to our humanity. We all have basic survival needs as well as other needs which can have varying degrees of importance for each individual person. Identifying, expressing and connecting with our needs can help us move forward in solving issues. Our feelings are a result of our needs being met or not met at each moment.
  • Requests- we might make a request to get support in achieving strategies to meet our needs. We first identify what action is needed and check in with others to see if they can support or participate in meeting this need. Two different types of requests you might make are
  • Connection requests: these are used to foster connection and understanding with another person.
  • Solution request: concrete question, usually asked after we feel connected to another

How to Use NVC (Non-Violent Communication) with Your Nanny

When a situation arises that you would like to discuss with your nanny, first make the time to connect with them. An ideal time is at the beginning or end of a shift, with plenty of time built in to make sure you’re not going over their assigned hours, or during your weekly check-in. It’s also helpful to make sure your children are occupied during this time, so you won’t be interrupted. 

The first step in resolving an issue is recapping what you observed without judgment. Focus on only the details and not your interpretation of the details. For example: “I noticed this morning that you were in a hurry when you left to take the kids to school and when I asked if you had their lunches you responded in a raised voice.” 

Then you can express your feelings that are triggered by the observation, or you can guess your nanny’s feelings and ask. “Were you feeling frustrated or stressed this morning?” Then you can go on to stating the need that is caused by that feeling. “I’d like to support you in the morning so that getting to school feels smooth and easy.” Finally, you might make a request: “Would you be open to spending a few minutes checking in with me in the morning so we can chat about the flow of the day, and I can ask you if you need any help?” 

Lastly, another helpful way to approach conflict is by utilizing “I” statements and focusing on expressing only your own feelings and needs. In addition, using the phrase “the story I’m telling myself is…” can be a humanizing way to talk about our own assumptions or insecurities that might come up during situations.

As you enter difficult conversations, know that resolving conflict with compassion and respect can build a stronger and healthier relationship between you and your nanny.
Interested in learning more about NVC?

Marshall Rosenberg who developed NVC in the 1960s has written several books on the subject. His website offers many resources. You can also check out his first book- Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships. is a Bay Area group that offers lots of resources on this subject. Their website features many helpful articles and they also host classes/groups- many meet online