how children learn to argue non-violently

how children learn to argue non-violently

Screams come from the nursery – first softly and hectically, then louder and louder. In the next moment, the siblings pull their hair and can hardly be separated from each other. Now only one thing helps: giraffe language!

Exciting insights into your life and your mind. (Scroll down to the article.)

What is giraffe language?

First of all: “Giraffe language” does not mean, of course, like chatting away in a “giraffe wreath” in the savannah. That would also be difficult, because giraffes communicate in the infrasound range that is inaudible to humans.

The giraffe language is rather a concept to resolve conflicts non-violently. It was developed by the American psychologist Marshall B. Rosenberg (1934–2015) and has already proven itself in crisis areas such as Palestine and former Yugoslavia. In many schools, too, the giraffe language is now a “compulsory subject”.

Last but not least, parents can also benefit from Rosenberg’s brilliant idea in everyday life at home.

No thanks giraffe.

Quarrel is part of it

Rosenberg initially surprises with a thesis: arguments are not bad. He is one of them. When two conflicting needs or goals clash, all that matters is how you deal with the situation.

The giraffe language does not try to avoid conflicts, but to solve them constructively. In everyday life, however, it is not only children but also adults who often react to arguments with a mixture of demands, withdrawal and blame. There is not much room left to understand the other person’s position.

This vicious circle can be broken with the giraffe language.

Broken Hearted Cowgirl

Why is it called “giraffe language”?

The giraffe is the land animal with the biggest heart, it is calm and, thanks to its long neck, has a perfect overview. Rosenberg is convinced that it also takes a big heart, calm and an overview to get out of confused conflicts. With the giraffe, the psychologist has chosen a symbolic animal that even small children understand well.

The opposite is the wolf: if he feels threatened, he crouches and bares his teeth. He always wants to be in control and assert himself, but does not see the whole of the situation.

1010 - frustration

When fighting, most people resemble the wolf – more precisely: their way of communicating resembles it. Rosenberg assumes that there is a certain way of speaking that turns us from “wolf” to “giraffe”. And this can be learned.

How does the giraffe language work?

Giraffe language requires empathy in two directions:

  • How is the other What does he need / want?
  • How am I? What do I need / want?

The answers to these questions are rarely open on the table. In order to get to them, one really has to formulate correctly in a dispute:

    1. Report what you are observing without judgment. Also avoid generalized statements like “you always do”, “I can never” etc.
    2. Make it clear how you feel about it. Ask the other how they’re feeling.
    3. Explain your needs that are causing you to feel.
    4. Make a clear request, which can also be refused if justified. The aim is to find a common solution in which there are neither winners nor losers.

Setting the record straight

Does giraffe language always work?

In order for the giraffe language to lead to success, it takes time, energy, a little courage to open up and leave your own positions, as well as a mature vocabulary – in the beginning it is not so easy to find out from the language of demands and accusations and to feel feelings to name.

But it’s worth it: after all, long-time opponents of the war have found compromises with the help of the giraffe language. It will certainly work in the nursery too!


If you want to know more about the giraffe language and its application in everyday life, you will find numerous books that deal with the topic: for example “When the giraffe dances with the wolf: Four steps to sensitive communication” by Serena Rust or, especially for children : “What do you need? Solving conflicts in a child-friendly way with giraffe language and non-violent communication ”by Hanna Grubhofer and Sigrun Eder.

Here are other articles that can give you helpful tips on parenting:

Source: Volksschule-ipsheim, wikipedia

Thumbnails: © flickr / viewminder © flickr / iluvgadgets

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