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Parenting - Your Child's Behavior

Understanding the Nurtured Heart Approach Method of Parenting

Are you the parent or caregiver of a child that is particularly intense, or what some people may refer to as “difficult?” If you are, you are probably well aware of the struggles that come with trying to help your child succeed in academia and in building meaningful, positive relationships with others.

Children with certain behavioral, emotional and medical difficulties such as ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome (among many others) can be challenging to reach as you attempt to build them up for success later in life.

That is where the Nurtured Heart Approach can help.

What is the Nurtured Heart Approach?

The Nurtured Heart Approach is practiced by parents, caregivers and educators of these intense children to help them channel their intensity into constructive and creative outlets. This approach was created by Howard Glasser.

The conventional way of dealing with trying children, such as punishment and firm-handed discipline, can often backfire and result in greater outbursts and even stall their success.

Far too often, children are given minimal praise and attention when things are going well. It is when they misbehave or fail to meet certain standards that attention is paid. Once a child picks up on this dynamic, they may actively choose to engage in “bad” behavior to get the attention that they crave.

The aim of this approach is to not energize negative behaviors while energizing positive ones. This changes the way that children relate to their parents and vice-versa, thus influencing how the child will relate to the rest of the world around them as they grow up. Parents, caregivers and educators should offer positive reinforcement and acknowledgement when the child doesn’t act out.

No, this doesn’t mean that you don’t define lines between right and wrong. In fact, with the Nurtured Heart Approach, the line should be exceptionally clear. When you leave any aspect of a rule up to the child’s perception, the lack of clarity can result in bad behavior.

For example, instead of saying “Keep your hands to yourself,” you can try a simple and no-nonsense “No hitting.”

When the child exhibits the unwanted behavior, the Nurtured Heart Approach encourages disengaging with the child for a moment after telling them that they need to “reset.” During this time, the parent will observe the child and see if the behavior stops. When it does, the child should be encouraged and appreciated for putting an end to their bad behavior.

In truth, the Nurtured Heart Approach is very simple: Show appreciation and attention when good or neutral behaviors occur while refusing to give energy to bad behaviors.

Should I Consider Using the Nurtured Heart Approach with my Child?

Many parents struggle for years with their intense and energetic children before finding the Nurtured Heart Approach. Testimonies aren’t difficult to find online, with hundreds of parents and educators praising the way that the approach has turned the lives of children around.

All children stand to benefit from the Nurtured Heart Approach, but the “difficult” ones are the children for whom the approach was designed. If your child seems to have limitless and unfocused energy that causes them to act out in negative ways for attention, the Nurtured Heart Approach could be exactly what you need to improve your relationship and reinforce the behaviors that are healthiest and most productive.

By implementing the Nurtured Heart Approach in your household or classroom, you let children know that they will be rewarded with praise for doing the right thing. When a rule is broken, they don’t get to feed off of the negative energy that often comes with punishment and disciplinary measures. Instead, they get to have a time-out that grants them the ability to strive for success once more, when it’s “time-in.”

Call Dr. Clare Albright, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist CA License PSY11660 at (949) 454-0996 at

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