Every parent wants to see his or her child succeed, to be a good person, to be liked, and to do well in whatever they choose in life. But what if you have a difficult child who constantly seems to be taking a wrong turn, a child that you just can’t reach or a child constantly at odds with you and the family. Perhaps you’ve turned to friends, your doctor, or even child development books but success still eludes you. That’s because most advice is geared towards the average child, one for whom the usual techniques and parenting style works. But your child is different. So what can you do?
There is a system designed for the “intense, difficult child”; it’s called The Nurtured Heart Approach, developed by Howard Glasser, and is a system that works with challenging behaviors. The premise of this approach is to “create actual experiences of success for children within the context of their activities and their relationships.” And success is powerful. If your child has been labeled as having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or simply is a “challenging” child, this approach can work for you. Parents of these children usually find that typical consequences such as lectures, redirection, reprimands, threats and yelling, or words of concern do not work. And they have also learned that these challenging children actually view these as rewards rather than consequences. To explore The Nurtured Heart Approach, consider the following:
“The Nurtured Heart Approach consists of a set of strategies that assists children in further developing their self-regulation and has been found effective with children of all ages. It focuses on transforming the way children perceive themselves, their caregivers and the world around them. Children learn to understand that they will receive endless amounts of praise, energy, recognition, and reward through the positive behavior they display and this supports children to build a positive portfolio of themselves, which is called “Inner Wealth.”
The Nurtured Heart Approach consists of three premises, or “stands”. “Absolutely No” is the refusal to give energy to negative behavior. “Absolutely Yes” is the recognition of new patterns of success and achievement children display, to acknowledge these efforts no matter how small. “Absolute Clarity” provides clear and consistent consequences when rules are broken. Following these guidelines will enable a parent to change their child’s troublesome behaviors.
This approach is strength-based and individualized. Parents need to talk to kids about what’s good about them and whatever parents pay attention to will grow. Think about this: for a difficult child, 90% of their teacher’s comments are negative. 10% of feedback validates something positive. Hearing constantly about things that aren’t right makes you want to hide them rather than talk about them. Parents and teachers need to talk to kids about what’s good about them, not what’s broken about them.
This seems like a lot of work but think about the amount of time parents and teachers spend talking about what the child has done wrong. An equal amount of time can be spent talking about what’s right and helping those things to grow. The reward will be a fulfilling relationship with your child, a child who can go to school and learn, a child who can self-regulate, and a child who is much easier to live with.
If you would like to learn about the Nurtured Heart Approach, there is an excellent website that includes books, audio material, online courses, and live trainings. www.ChildrensSuccessFoundation.com. Howard Glasser participates in the site and has also written “Transforming The Difficult Child, The Nurtured Heart Approach” with Jennifer Easley. Another website is www.DifficultChild.com, and there are a good number of other books co-written with Howard Glasser.
Many parents are at their wit’s end. They’ve tried everything to help their child. This approach just might be the answer.