More About the Nurtured Heart Approach®

The Nurtured Heart Approach® (NHA) is more than just a parenting model or behavior management strategy. It is a philosophy for creating healthy relationships and recognizing that everyone has inherent greatness. We are not merely applying the Approach as an intervention; we are reflecting the greatness that is at the core of every child’s being. When we recognize the child’s strengths and focus on positive, everyday occurrences, rather than energizing negativity, we are creating an environment in which children can thrive.

Originally created by Howard Glasser in 1992, NHA is being successfully implemented through families, classrooms, foster care givers, health care professionals, social workers, and criminal justice organizations that are seeking successful, early intervention techniques.

The Approach consists of a set of strategies, The 3 Stands™, that has been found effective with children of all ages (as well as adults). Children learn to understand that they will receive endless amounts of praise, energy, recognition, and rewarding relationship through the positive behavior they display, and this supports children to build a positive portfolio of themselves, which we call “Inner Wealth®.”

Stand One: Absolutely No!
I refuse to energize negative behavior.
I will not react with elevated energy, attention, and relationship to disruptions and outbursts that distract children from their greatness.

Stand Two: Absolutely Yes!
I will relentlessly energize the positive.
As much as possible, I will work immediately to identify, describe, and express appreciation for steps, large and small, a child takes in manifesting his or her positive choices and intrinsic greatness. I will actively initiate opportunities for children to be successful.

Stand Three: Absolute Clarity!
I will maintain total clarity about rules that demonstrate fair and consistent boundaries. I will consistently enforce rules and provide immediate consequences through resetting each time a rule is broken, by way of a simple form of consequence called a “reset.” I will recognize the child in the moment they have reset and create that next moment as an opportunity for success.

Intensity is the key to Nurtured Heart thinking. Unfortunately, the word intensity has negative associations in our society and teachers, parents, and childcare workers can view it as the enemy. In Nurtured Heart thinking, we believe intensity is a powerful quality of life force that, if developed correctly, can propel children into amazing achievements. When a child learns to feel great about his or her intensity, the incidents of challenging behavior dissolve. Now the intense child is using his or her intelligence and energies in constructive ways and he or she often turns out to be an intensely gifted young person.

Despite the best intentions, traditional methods can deepen an intense child’s impression that the most interesting and energized responses happen when things are going wrong. Lectures, reprimands, and raised voices are not consequences, as most adults believe, but rather are rewards of connected energy. When energy comes into a child’s life only through negativity, the child’s experience deepens… the child believes that continuing to have problems will create richer relationships. “Thank you” and “Good job” as positive recognitions pale energetically when compared to all the ways we really show up when issues emerge. What appears to be ADHD is often simply a habitual response by the child to his environment.

The answer is not medicating away a child’s intensity, but rather in using a method that guides a child’s intelligence and energy in constructive ways. The medical community generally reports that ADHD is a genetic and bio-chemical condition and that only a modest amount of improvement can be made through a combination of medications and behavior management. What people do not always know is the sought-after prize of “improvements” can be disappointing. Neither the adults nor the child has accessed how to best handle the child’s intensity, and no real progress is made in healing the underlying condition.

With the right approach, you can cultivate an amazing level of success in challenging children, despite the propensities of a possible pre-existing genetic condition, living situations, stressors, and symptomatology. Adults skilled in the Nurtured Heart Approach always hold children accountable for problem behaviors but reserve animated and energetic responses for positive behaviors, and they have an uncanny ability to shift behavior into a new and enduring pattern of success. With the Nurtured Heart Approach, challenging children can use their intensity in wonderful ways, and instead of acting out problems, they can act out greatness!

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