Nonviolent communication: A tool for working with children who have emotional or behavioral challenges

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Author: Liz Rose
Date: Winter 2006
From: General Music Today(Vol. 19, Issue 2)
Publisher: MENC - The National Association for Music Education
Document Type: Article
Length: 990 words
Lexile Measure: 1140L

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Children with emotional or behavioral challenges are typically mainstreamed into music classrooms. Sadly, music teachers often do not have the skills necessary to engage in productive dialogue with these students when conflict arises. Here is a scenario: Ashley is a student who is behaviorally challenged and is trying to engage Josh in a conversation during your music class. Josh is not responding, but is clearly distracted. A typical response might be, "Ashley, when you talk during my, class, you will go to time-out." Many children with emotional or behavioral challenges respond to a demand with rebellion. At this point, you may find yourself with a rebellious child who needs physical redirection in order to go into time-out or who continues the conflict by engaging in unproductive dialogue. The bottom line is that Ashley is removed from music class and as a result does not have an opportunity to experience music, which she may desperately need.

So, what is an alternative? I have become very excited about using Marshall Rosenberg's (1999) Nonviolent Communication (NVC) method in my music classroom, not only with emotionally and behaviorally challenging children, but also with typically developing children, it consists of using direct and nonjudgmental language, expressing feelings and needs, and finally making a request as opposed to a demand.

The first step in the NVC method is to observe and verbally reflect the child's behavior in a direct and nonjudgmental manner. A judgmental tone or gesture towards a child is the quickest...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A167774579