Nonviolent communication and empathy, the keys to self-accomplishment

Effective communication for a fulfilling self-development
Communication is the foundation of our relationship with others and it occurs from our early childhood, even before we acquire the ability to talk. It is first characterized by interactions such as screams, cries, smiles… Throughout our life, communication plays a double role: on an individual level, it is a tool to understanding and learning about oneself and about others, whereas on a collective level it helps us find our own place in a group, solve conflicts, and thrive. This social dimension is very present at La Petite Ecole, where the diversity of ages and nationalities represents a great richness and encourages us to promote mutual help and benevolence.

The necessity of expressing one’s needs

We are constantly confronted to our own needs, on a daily basis, but as we fail to identify them and listen to them, we tend to repress them. Furthermore, humans are inclined to judge, criticize and blame others. In our school, promoting positive communication within the community is a priority that we strive to sustain; it is necessary to reconsider the way we express ourselves, the way we listen to each other and build relationships.


Adopting nonviolent communication
Nonviolent communication (NVC) is based on mutual cooperation and on the identification of our own feelings and personal needs, in order to promote dialog and the use of nonviolent words. Developed by the psychologist Marshall B. Rosenberg, nonviolent communication transforms conflicts into dialogs, through listening, questioning, rephrasing and showing empathy. At La Petite Ecole, our communication is founded on mutual respect between adults and children, a benevolence that rejects the use of threats or punishments. For his brain to develop in a healthy manner, the child must be comforted and reassured.
“ Without stress, a child is able to understand the consequences of his behavior, find solutions by himself, and thus take responsibilities.”


hug-la-petite-ecole-singapour-comunication-non-violente-224×224Understanding and developing empathy
Empathy is a complex aptitude defined by Serge Tisseron’s pyramid. At the base, emotional resonance, then emotional empathy (from 14 months old), followed by cognitive empathy (around 4-5 years old) and finally mutual, two-sided empathy.
It is fundamental for us to train our entire pedagogical team in order to help each individual develop empathy and the capacity to understand and help each other. As the paediatrician Catherine Gueguen explains, receiving empathy naturally creates a virtual circle: in order to give empathy, we must first receive it ourselves. It is an aptitude that one must keep developing all life long.


Learning to manage one’s emotions

gere-emotion-petite-ecole-singapour-comunication-non-violente-1-224×224An emotion is a short physiological reaction that allows the body to respond appropriately to an external stimulus. Each thought, behavior, interest, desire or belief is motivated by an emotion that originates from a need. In order to help our children deal with their emotions better, they need to develop their emotional intelligence: rather than stopping the emotional crisis without understanding it, they must learn to live with and express their emotions. Thus, instead of saying “Don’t cry!”, ask “Are you sad? Are you angry? Tell me what’s happening” to help the child calm down and feel better. This is the reason why, at La Petite Ecole, we organize open discussions and role-playing workshops around emotions.
We suggest tools and offer solutions to our pedagogical team, such as the emotional corner, the pillow of anger or meditation. They can then apply them in their classroom. Meditation has now become a routine in our library, at the beginning of each session in order to create an environment ideal for listening, and at the end of the session for a smooth transition.
This year, we are very pleased to be able to offer Qi Gong to our students, a traditional discipline founded on Chinese medicine. The foundations of Qi Gong are all about listening of one’s own body and emotions, which helps channeling vital energy and expressing emotions in a more efficient way.
An approach that is part of coeducation

The child’s entourage plays an essential role in his learning acquisitions, which is why it is extremely important to use a positive and encouraging vocabulary when addressing a child. In order to create the best conditions for learning, the school must convey a similar sense of trust and serenity than can be found at home. At La Petite Ecole, we wish to include families in our pedagogical approach, through coeducation. Families participate in our events, celebrations and open houses, and parents are also invited to La Petite Ecole for thematic discussions lead by professionals. Together with the children’s families, we are committed to create an environment favorable to the well-being of the child, a necessary factor for his  current and future academic success and for his personal fulfillment. If you want to contact us: [email protected]

Article by Maria Raphel Lamrani Alaoui, School Director at La Petite Ecole Singapore

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