The Nurtured Heart Approach: Learning to Transform the Difficult Child
Co-authored by Howard Glasser, M.A. and Tina Feigal, M.S., Ed. Tina is the Founder of The Minnesota Center for the Difficult Child Howard is the founder of The Children's Success Foundation. (See co-authors' bios & SEMINAR info below)
This co-authored introduction is the first in a series of Tina Feigal's forthcoming articles that will discuss Howard Glasser's Nurtured Heart Approach.(NHA)
Many parents with "difficult" children are desperate for help, yet prefer to avoid resorting to harsh measures or medication. The Nurtured Heart Approach, developed by Tucson, Arizona family therapist Howard Glasser, offers an alternative approach that reaches the child's heart and leads to remarkable behavior changes.
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(Glasser).
Research on the Nurtured Heart Approach has shown that ninety-seven percent (97%) of children who were candidates for medication were able to avoid starting them with the use of the Nurtured Heart Approach. I believe we owe it to these children to use alternatives to medication that breed success.
Intense children are seeking our energy
The Nurtured Heart Approach is based on the premise that intense children are subconsciously seeking the emotional energy of the adults in their lives. We often think of this energy as the attention we give to them. Instead, if we think of the children we care about as needing this energy in order to recharge their own internal batteries, it becomes clear what is really happening when they act with such intensity.
Their energy comes from our energy.
But, when do we typically choose to give children our emotional energy?
When things are going poorly.
A child's intensity is a gift that needs to be nurtured. Unfortunately, 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. I've developed an approach that 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 (Glasser).
A child's intensity is a gift that needs to be nurtured.
Many children wind up on medications simply because there has not been an approach that consistently helps them to use their intensity successfully. Seventy-five percent of all children evaluated for conditions such as ADHD and Oppositional-Defiance Disorder 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 (Glasser).
Parents and teachers can end up feeling inadequate and blamed. Treatment professionals can sometimes be at a loss as to how best to help. The result for the child is being at risk for both his medications side effects, that can rarely be adequately explained in the course of an evaluation, and for his greater loss of self than can ever be fully anticipated.
The techniques most people have at their disposal are the culprits ... not the parents, teacher, or child. Approaches designed for average children are not powerful or encompassing enough to have a transformative effect on children whose behaviors involve opposition, defiance or an inability to manage strong impulses or emotions (Glasser).
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 s/he gets a great deal more from adults through negativity, and that positive choices are a less certain bet, the child is moved to believing that s/he can fully invest his or her energies and intelligence in successes (Glasser).
Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach, by Howard Glasser.
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Tina Feigal's background
Tina Feigal is a former school psychologist who now trains and coaches parents and professionals in applying the principles of The Nurtured Heart Approach. The approach is a set of highly effective techniques used to help intense children, ages 3-18, to gain control of their behavior and to see themselves as successful. Tina was trained and authorized by Howard Glasser to share ideas with adults on ways to bring out the best in intense children. Tina holds workshops for groups, and phone coaching sessions for couples and individuals, who want to hone their skills in applying the approach. Tina is also a parent, whose second of three sons went through a period of opposition and defiance related to a serious illness. He is now a graduate student in counseling psychology and living a full, productive and successful life.
Howard Glasser's background
Howard Glasser's Children's Success Foundation has achieved national acclaim for work with children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) and other behaviorally challenging conditions. The "approach" has also had excellent results with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and other abuse, neglect and chaos related syndromes, as well as with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) and Autism.
Howard Glasser's website can be found at www.difficultchild.com