An Alternatives to Violence Project workshop for parents

Alternatives to Violence Project I am currently helping to plan and facilitate an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshop for parents through Family Support Newcastle. We have a good team of four facilitators with a variety of experience and backgrounds.

While this workshop will be open to any parents, we are hoping to mainly attract parents who are facing significant challenges. We are working towards a number of short-term outcomes for the parents:

  1. Improved conflict resolution and negotiation skills
  2. Improved ability to show warmth and love towards their children
  3. Increased confidence in parenting
  4. Greater self-awareness in relation to parenting, making choices and conflict
  5. Improved ability to create boundaries with their children in a respectful, caring way
  6. Improved connections with their families, their community and support services.

Because Alternatives to Violence Project workshops are based on a number of building blocks and approaches to conflict resolution and nonviolence, rather than having a standard agenda or structure, the workshops can easily be adapted to a variety of contexts. We aren’t aware of other AVP workshops being run specifically for parents (although many parents have done AVP of course) and are confident that they have a lot of relevance to parenting.

Typically Alternatives to Violence Project workshops are a weekend or consecutive days but they can be structured in a number of different ways. In NSW we are now generally running them on two consecutive Saturdays (in Sydney) or Sundays (in Newcastle). Because AVP workshops should be at least 18 hours, they are long days and we decided that this approach would be difficult for the parents we are hoping to attract. We are trialling it as a series of seven workshops each of 3.5 hours (including a light lunch) during school hours. Because this is a total of 24.5 hours, if a parent has to miss one session, they will still complete the required 18 hours and be eligible for a certificate.

Childcare can be a significant barrier for parents without strong support networks, so Family Support Newcastle is providing childcare if needed.

One of the things we are incorporating into the workshops is the notion of parenting styles. An authoritative style (or active style as we’re calling it) is both high in warmth and the expectations placed on children. We think the Alternatives to Violence Project’s emphasis on respect for self and caring for others fits in well with this parenting style and active parenting provides a useful framework for many of the ideas from the workshops.

During the workshops we will also reflect on our own childhood and how we were raised, think about what we hope for our children, and focus on parenting when debriefing activities often found in AVP workshops.

I’m looking forward to doing some more direct work with families, reflecting on what worked or could have been improved, and exploring the impact the workshops had on the participants.

If you liked this post please follow my blog, and you might like to look at:

  1. What are Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops?
  2. What are authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved and authoritative parenting styles?
  3. Parenting styles – another look
  4. Parenting for a better world
  5. Domestic violence, family, friends and neighbours
  6. 12 principles of a problem solving approach to conflict resolution

If you find any problems with the blog, (e.g., broken links or typos) I’d love to hear about them. You can either add a comment below or contact me via the Contact page.

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP), Families & parenting and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to An Alternatives to Violence Project workshop for parents

  1. Anonymous says:


    I’m just curious about how to avoid violence against children and google bring me here. Basically it would be so easy to put handcuffs or straitjackets on children to make sure they don’t behave badly, instead of hitting them. I’m completely against hitting children, but I doesn’t really see effective alternatives. I don’t have a child yet, but I’m very afraid of children. They can be aggressive and can terrorize others, just because they are having fun, so there should be effective ways to stop them in those situations. If I see others’ children behave like this I just run away, but what could I do if my children do bad things and they don’t care what I say?



    • Hi Zoltan
      I think there is a big difference between setting boundaries and limits and hitting children. So I think it is fine to have quite clear expectations about children’s behaviour. But there are ways to do this without using force and coercion. We have never hit our children (including spanking), but have worked hard to ensure they treat others with respect, are kind to each other and think about others. I have certainly been angry with them, and they have certainly had to face consequences for their actions.
      I think we tried to lead by example, an to me using physical punishment is not the example I want to provide.
      You might be interested in reading four parenting styles ( I like the authoritative style because it includes love and warmth, with setting high expectations in relation to our children’s behaviour.
      I think your last line few words are important. “What could I do if my children do bad things and they don’t care what I say?” I think we really need to work to ensure that our children do care what we say. Not because they are afraid of us, but because they know that we love them, trust them, and respect them.
      The other thing I will finish with is that I find it helpful to remember that children do not need perfect parents. They need parents who love them, care for them and suport them, and who are doing the best they can.


  2. Pingback: Presenting 2 papers at the Family & Relationship Services Australia conference | Sustaining Community

  3. Hi Graeme, You would like to know about the Beyond the Violence program developed by Anglicare Victoria and delivered to parents and children through the Parentzone program. Mothers and children enjoy separate sessions over a period of 8 weeks, coming together at the end of each session for family time. The program works extremely well with families returning for a second stint if they feel the need to reaffirm the new practices they have learnt. The children’s program is for 0 – 18 and all unpack what it is like living life after exiting a violence relationship and experiencing a new family paradigm.
    I am family with AVP (being a Quaker) and applaud taking it to parents.


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