I suppose we all would love our children to have courage to disagree when they are not willing to do something, especially when they are teenagers and prompt to be easily influenced by their peers. I can imagine that we, parents, share the dream of seeing our children autonomous, value oriented, self-aware…

Yeah… So why is it that difficult to hear their „no” and how we can do it with empathy so their self-esteem stays strong forever?  

Here you can find 3 steps to do it.

Step 1

Empathy for yourself! 

First take one deep breath. I know it’s so obvious, and at the same time when we are triggered, we forget about it easily. So take a deep breath. 

Make a quick body scan. What are your body sensations? Are your jaws clenched? Is your heart bumping very fast? 

I can imagine that in some situations you might think you don’t have time to do it and you „have to” to do something else as fast as possible. Now, think of possible consequences of your reaction when you are not in touch with yourself? What do you choose? 

Connect to your feelings and needs. What is alive in you right now? Is it anger? Because you would really love to have more collaboration and ease? Or maybe you feel surprised and your need of predictability is not met in this moment?


Step 2

Empathy for your child

Remind yourself, that behind every „no” there is „yes” to something really important for your child.

It is not aimed against you! Your child chose the best way they could to express something dear and precious to them. Turn to your child with warm curiosity of what that might be. You can try to guess: Is it that you are feeling really angry when I don’t agree for another ice-cream, as you would like to choose on your own how many scoops you eat? Here we are trying to find what is there that “makes” your child say „no”. It does not have to mean that you agree to whatever your child wants to do. You can also say „no” to the strategy, a particular way in which your child wants to fulfill their needs. And at the same time you can say „yes” to the beautiful need


Step 3

Finding win-win solutions

Now, being aware of what is alive in you and what is alive in your child, you can turn to another step – to see what you can do to make your lives more wonderful.

Marshall Rosenberg used to say that NVC focuses on two powerful questions:

  1. What is alive in you and me?
  2. What can we do to make our lives more wonderful?

Maybe you can encourage your child to find new ways of solving this situation so that your needs and the needs of your child can be seen and taken under consideration? 

I know it may sound very simple and at the same time it’s not easy at all. It requires some time and commitment. I can see empathy like one of our muscles. When you understand how it works and when you train it, it can be useful in every moment.


About the author:


Paulina Orbitowska-Fernandez Empathic Way EuropePaulina Orbitowska-Fernandez

Trainer of Empathic Communication, Coach, eduScrum Trainer, an academic teacher

I am CNVC Certified Trainer supporting families, schools, business and organizations, through workshops, lectures or individually. The way we communicate has an impact on our personal and professional relations. I support people in leveraging the quality of them so they can enjoy more honesty and empathy. I also facilitate systemic transformation through Nonviolent Communication, neurobiology, and 3d-mapping inspired by and following the teachings of Sarah Peyton being in a constant awe how much healing her work brings. The first time when I heard the words of Marshall Rosenberg „Connect before correct” I imagined how would the world look like if we could remember them more often. What I do is rooted in that dream. I have finished postgraduate studies in Leadership in Education, Nonviolent Communication according to Marshall Rosenberg and Train the Trainer of Nonviolent Communication studies, at Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, Poland. I have also finished Business and Life Coaching at the School of Empathic Trainers in Warsaw. I am a mother of a teenage boy who is my source of love and wisdom. Websites: www.paulinaorbitowska.pl, www.widzeczlowieka.pl, www.eduscrum.info

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