Nurtured Heart Approach & Medication
By Howard Glasser
Unfortunately, so many people today find themselves struggling with the intensity of a challenging child and wind up being advised to moderate the intensity by using medications as a first intervention rather than as a very last resort. The Nurtured Heart Approach puts parents, teachers and professionals into the driver’s seat and gives them the perspective and strategies to shift children into using their intensity in beautiful ways, so that medications can truly be a last resort.
Many children wind up on medications simply because there has not been an approach that consistently helps them to use their intensity successfully. The vast majority of all children evaluated for conditions such as ADHD, Opposition Defiance Disorder, and other symptoms that are currently considered as comprising behavioral disorders receive medication on the very first visit. The unfortunate underlying message is: your teacher can’t control you, your parent can’t control you, and you can’t control yourself… you need a substance to control whatever is going on inside you.
Parents and teachers can end up feeling inadequate and blamed, treatment professionals can sometimes be at a loss as to how best to help, and the result for the child is being at risk for both physical side effects that can rarely be adequately explained in the course of an evaluation and for greater loss of self than can ever be fully anticipated.
Ordinary methods of parenting and teaching typically backfire with intense children. Despite the best of intentions, the harder adults attempt normal responses, the worse the situation can inadvertently become.
The culprits are the techniques most people have at their disposal… not the parents, teacher, or child. Approaches designed for the average child are not powerful or encompassing enough to have a transformative effect on children with behaviors involving opposition, defiance or inability to manage strong impulses or emotions.
The excellent news is that The Nurtured Heart Approach has proven itself to create the transformation very quickly and in an enduring way. Instead of a child believing that they get a great deal more from adults through negativity and that positive choices are a less certain bet, the child is moved to believing that they can fully invest their energies and intelligence in successes.
Our experience is that children who have more than their fair share of intensity, for whatever reasons – whether born with more life force than others or whether acquiring it along the way because of stressors and other factors – are often children who inadvertently come to manifest symptoms that are frustrating or of concern to the adults in their life.
We have found over and over again that these symptoms are best seen as motivating forces to those who wish to help this child accomplish what everyone has wanted all along – for this same child to use their intensity in wonderful and great ways – rather than merely as inspiration to construe these symptoms as comprising a syndrome that needs to be diagnosed. It far better to use the frustrating behaviors as fuel to find an approach that works.
Once a set of symptoms is diagnosed, those professionals guided by the “medical model” are ethically bound to view the syndrome as pathology and as best treated by “best practices.” In the realm of children with behavioral issues the medical community’s “best practices” are currently considered to be dominated by treatment via psychostimulants and other powerful medications.
Our experience is that symptoms are simply symptoms and for parents and teachers learning the Nurtured Heart Approach and strongly applying it to their children these same intense children typically move to manifesting their intensity and intelligence in great ways within a short period of time – usually with a month. These children become extra-ordinary in then using their extra life force to propel a new kind of acting out in greatness. Instead of using their intelligence poorly to support the convoluted endeavors of acting out problems their intelligence now goes to support successful choices.
Many parents of children already on medications are successful at weaning a child off once the approach is fully in place and the parent feels confident that the changes are not an accident but rather the impact of the new approach they are using and that the changes and more to come are here to stay. An increasing number of Pediatricians, family doctors and other medical practitioners have become skilled at assisting families in this area.
The reason this may be important is that most parents and teachers are not informed about the true nature of Ritalin, Adderall and other stimulant medications as well as the other psychotropic drugs that might be prescribed as a result of the normal process of reactions to the original prescriptions. The body typically adapts to foreign substances and the dosage and medication that seemed to offer relief and “improvement” at the start of treatment may not be working in 6 months to a year, so doses are raised and additional meds may be given. The typical child innocently given one med at the start of treatment is often on a “cocktail” of medications within two years.
Parents and teachers are not typically informed of this pattern or that Ritalin and other psycho-stimulants are considered by chemists to be chemically equivalent to cocaine. They are not told of the well conducted long term studies that show that such medications are a gateway drug to much higher rates of high level use of illegal substances. They are not told of recent research that shows that even basic “life expectancy” is drastically lowered for children who wind up on multiple medications in the treatment of childhood behavior disorders and they are also not told that there is a high correlation between these medications “not working” and these very same children being deemed as having Bi-Polar Disorder within the first few years of treatment for ADHD, meriting then subsequent issuing of much stronger rounds of medications and much more serious life repercussions.
One reason medications do not work is that all they offer from the start is “improvements” which have built in limitations because the symptoms are always still right there under the surface. One way of accessing the reality of this is that before the meds kick in on any given day or after they wear off the problems are still right there. They haven’t gone away. There hasn’t been any real healing. The underlying patterns of negativity still persist, even if to a lesser degree. The parent and teacher are still typcially none the wiser on how to best help the child and nor is the child more adept at handling their more extensive intensity and life force. Nothing has really changed.
The child still feels that something is very wrong with them because the energy and intensity that defines them is seen by the world and themselves increasingly as problematic – instead of having learned to see the beauty of the very same intensity – seeing that it drives, inspires and informs their greatness.
This is the beauty of the Nurtured Heart Approach and it’s profound ability to accomplish the healing of the underlying energies that have simply gone awry.
The great news is that a growing number of those in conventional, alternative and integrative medicine and treatment have now taken up this cause and see this approach as a core part of a well balance model of helping children to become medication free.