In the fall, I came across a parenting tool that deeply inspired me. It's as set of strategies called the Nurtured Heart Approach.
It was built for spirited, intense children. It’s all about empowering parents and caregivers to relentlessly energize (appreciate) the positive, and decline to engage in the negative. And it’s very, very straightforward and satisfying to use.
The best part is the intention behind the Nurtured Heart Approach: to build the inner strength of each child through directing your attention, appreciation, and love. (There’s boundary-setting in there too, but first there’s relentless positivity.) This helps support mental health and well-being and it's useful in parenting and caring for all children. In fact, I think it's just plain good for all communication.
I was so moved by what I learned, I requested that we do a collection of stories about it. Thus "For the Love of Spice: Georgia Bean's Method for Minding Mice" has launched this week! You'll find all three stories here.
More About the Nurtured Heart Approach
The Nurtured Heart Approach has three pillars or "stands," as defined by the Childrens Success Foundation:
*1. Absolutely No! I refuse to energize negativity. I will not accidentally reward negativite behaviors with my energy, connection, or relationship.*
*2. Absolutely Yes! I will relentlessly create and energize positivity and success. I’m going to energize and nurture first-hand experiences of appreciation, recognition, and acknowledgement.*
*3. Absolutely Clear! I will set and enforce clear limits and clear consequences in an unenergized way. I will always provide a true consequence.*
(Italicized points above from the Children's Success Foundation Website)
The bottom line, as I understand it, is this:
Children read where we direct our energy towards them. If we are giving them the majority of our attention (love) when they are being responsible, being kind, being honest, being upstanding, they take that in. It directs them to start to see themselves as being valued and valuable.
However when we inadvertantly give them the bulk of our attention (love) when they are "misbehaving," they take that in, and it forms their sense of themselves and their own value.
Howard Glasser (founder of Nurtured Heart) has seen that relentless positivity can completely transform even the most challenging child by hijacking them out of their sense of themselves as "problems" and landing them in a place of deep self-worth and self-confidence.
How to Apply the Nurtured Heart Approach
Just so you have a clear image, let me give an example. Say a child has been refusing to do their normal chores. Heels are dug in.
The NHA would have you:
1) Notice the things they ARE doing well — even little things such as "Gosh, I really appreciate how you have your bag all packed and ready for school this morning! It's made the morning so much easier, and I feel so supported."
2) Refrain from fussing at them about the chores.
3) Enforce super clear boundaries about the chores with zero emotion attached. "Oh gosh, you can't go over to Zizi's today; you didn't do your part of the chores. Let's try again tomorrow."
My Own Experience
I've been experimenting with NHA with my own children, and it's absolutely lovely. Not only does the positive feedback make my kids light up, it lights me up with appreciation and delight as well.
I'm not always good about refusing to energize the negative or challenging behaviors (because, boy, I can fuss!) but I'm now aware of it.
And where I'm really working is maintaining those crystal clear boundaries and enforcing them without emotional charge. I find that having written rules and boundaries helps (with the consequences spelled out), because then you can simply refer back to the agreement.
If you'd like to dig in to the Nutured Heart Approach even further, I highly recommend you start with the Children's Success Foundation website.
I can't recommend it enough!
Want to hear more about Georgia? Listen to the "For the Love of Spice: Georgia Bean's Method for Minding Mice" collection.
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About the Author
Lisabeth Sewell has worn many hats at Sparkle over the years, from Sparkle Kitchen Blogger to Editorial Director to Doer of All Odd Jobs. Her primary role is as CEO.