Parental presence: A child’s or young person’s sense that their parent is there for them, that the parent is a safe, solid and dependable person who can be relied upon. A child’s sense that their parent knows their whereabouts and cares what they are doing. The child knows what their parent’s values are and what they believe about right and wrong.
Loss of Parental Presence: Parents are supported to acknowledge fluctuations in their levels of involvement and presence they have in their child’s physical, emotional and social life and how they relate to the development of unacceptable behaviours. By exploring their own experiences, unmet needs and developing an inter- and intra-personal awareness, parents affirm their parental values and become conscious how they communicate them. This helps them to (re-) build their parental presence.
Rebuilding the relationship: When relationships have become characterised by challenging, harmful and self destructive behaviour there are very few opportunities for people to relate more positively. The relationship needs to be rebuilt based on acknowledging the negative, escalatory patterns and committing to learn to adopt connecting ones.
De-escalation: Parents learn to identify when things are escalating and to step out of the pattern. Two types of escalation tend to occur: one where both sides escalate and the escalation may end in violence and another where the parent chooses to give in. Parents often do both. In NVR parents learn to wait until things are calm and respond instead of react using the maxim ‘strike when the iron is cold’.
Supporters: Parents identify individuals who can support them and their child; they are specific about how they want these people to help them resist the young person’s challenging behaviours.
Breaking the silence: Parents tell others about the child’s difficult behaviour and how they feel hopeless and helpless about it and need help
Helping siblings and others: By taking time to listen to their experiences and explaining the changes in approach, parents support siblings and others, who have been impacted by the child’s destructive behaviours.
Sit-in: If the child repeats the behaviour/s that were addressed in the NVR Announcement (for example, punching a sibling), parents will plan a sit-in. They will enter the child’s bedroom and sit down and tell them in a calm and quiet way, that they are there to assist the child in thinking of ways forward and to change things. They offer to assist the child in thinking about ways forward. Then they sit quietly or silently for a period of time, to demonstrate their love and their commitment to working towards change in a peaceful way.
Campaign of Concern: Originally called ‘message campaign’ by Haim Omer, concern is the attitude or mindset in which we would like the family to communicate with the young person after a problematic or positive incident. The support network is informed by parents or other caregivers of such an incident, and the parents nominate certain supporters to approach their child by text, email, letter, video call or in person. In case of a problematic incident (a ‘small basket behaviour’), each supporter expresses their concern for everyone affected by the incident, including the young person who has instigated it. The messages should be neither blaming nor minimising. There should be at least as many ‘positive incident’ messages as ‘problematic incident’ messages. Positive incidents are exceptions to the problem – e.g. when the young person has controlled themselves during an argument rather than resorting to aggression as in the past – or an example that shows the young person beginning to thrive or reconnect with other family members, e.g. when they have become able to sit through a maths lesson which they had previously been unable to, or when they have sometimes taken a meal with their parents again as in the past. In the campaign of concern, the support network becomes a containing social environment for the child or young person.
Tailing and Telephone Round: When young people run away from home, truant from school, or stay out at night rather than returning home at an appointed time, risks that present themselves to them increase. Some of these risks are drug misuse, gang involvement, child sexual exploitation and rape, use in drug dealing and trafficking. The physical and psychological harm to the young person tends to be significant, and parents or other caregivers lose parental presence when the young person withdraws from their sphere of influence. ‘Tailing’ reverses this process. By ‘leaving footprints in dangerous places’, caregivers strategically raise their presence with people and in places the young person frequents, e.g. by meeting other parents of other vulnerable young people the child has contact with, gathering contact details, communicating with other adults and young people when their child has not come home, and seeking to find the young person’s whereabouts. In the telephone round, caregivers contact a wide range of people who may be able to communicate with their child. It is important to persist in these efforts, time and again, when young people show a pattern of absconding.
Announcement: Parents carefully construct an announcement they will make to their child explaining that they are going to resist the negative behaviour, that they love their child and they want things to be better. They commit to a non-violent stance (verbal and physical). There are no threats or warnings. The announcement is short and specific. Parents practise making the announcement until it embodies and resonates with both their love for their child and their stance of resistance.
Reconciliation gestures (or ‘relational gestures’): Parents may make regular small gestures of unconditional love and kindness towards their child. These may be small gifts (items of food, repairs to things that have been broken, special messages, watching the child’s favourite TV programme) which are made irrespective of how the child has behaved and without expecting anything in return or pointing out the act of kindness to the child. Reconciliation gestures are intended to help the parent enact feelings of warmth and love. If the gesture is spurned, parents do not react.
Active resistance: Parents choose to resist attempts to engage them in escalation. They resist the temptation to have the last word. Parents engage in peaceful protest against harmful behaviour. Parents stop giving in to unreasonable demands (internet access throughout the night, bribing the child to attend school, unlimited taxi and laundry services).