However much we love our children, there are times when we feel frustrated and angry with them. But trainer Julia Feste hopes to teach us new strategies for dealing with these situations at a workshop this Saturday, April 20 (repeated Saturday, May 18); and in doing so draws on her own journey from engineer to educator.
“I was excelling in math at school, and as many good math students in France, I studied engineering after high school,” she told beijingkids. “I never really questioned that choice until I started working, even though I was aware of painful feelings that I was carrying with me quite often. At that time I was not connected to my needs. I was acting according to what I thought people were expecting from me.
“After I got my master degree in engineering I worked as the coordinator of an environmental project in Wuhan. One day, a friend asked me for help to prepare and deliver an English class for 11-year-old children in a school, which I did in my free time. It was a revelation. There was much more joy in me when working with children than when working on my computer. I believe education saved me from depression. That’s also when I started learning about Non-Violent Communication (NVC), and it all suddenly made sense. I learned how to tune in and listen to my needs. I gradually accepted the idea that it was OK to drop engineering and follow what made me more feel more alive.”
Feste came to Beijing where she has worked as an educator in various settings, with children and adults. But she has not abandoned the skills she learned in her engineering days.
“An engineer is someone who analyses, simplifies, and solves problems. I approach education with my engineer mind: how can I make the complex adult world understandable for toddlers? How can I make math interesting and limpid for teenagers? How can I guide an adult who spent most of his life in his mind to connect with his feelings? How do I get a manager, who is all about efficiency, to understand that taking the time to listen with empathy to his subordinates will more likely bring him efficiency in the long run? In any topic that I teach, for any age group, I use my NVC skills, meaning that connection with my students is at the center of my teaching.”
We asked how NVC differs from other parenting approaches.
“NVC is based on the intention of creating connection,” Feste said, “and sharing the power with our child, which is common to other parenting approaches such as PET and Positive Discipline. The language that is used though is based on the non-judgmental awareness of what is alive in us and in our child in the present moment, which makes it a mindfulness practice. That practice is applicable to any type of relationship, including the one you have with yourself. In fact, a big part is focusing on you as a parent, what your feelings and needs are and how you can take care of them. That makes it very different from other parenting approaches which focus mostly on the child.”
The workshop is suitable for parents in all sorts of situations, Feste told us.
“It’s for anyone who would like to improve their interpersonal relationships as well as their intrapersonal relationships – at work or at home likewise. Particularly parents who want to adopt a respectful way to communicate with their child, those who want to create a deep connection with their child, and those who want to increase an awareness around emotions and needs in their family.”
One Day Immersion in Non-Violent Communication, Apr 20
Adults. RMB 3,000 for two people (register here). 10am-6pm. Beijing Mindfulness Centre, 44, Qian Yong Kang Hutong, Dongcheng District. 北京东城区前永康胡同44号. (firstname.lastname@example.org, 6403 4923)
Photos: Ba Phi via Pexels, courtesy of Julia Feste