our journey of hope and healing through autism

Book Review: Transforming the Difficult Child (The Nurtured Heart Approach) by H. Glasser

If you’re like me (ie- a parent of  one or more intense children), you may have read a LOT of books.  A lot of books that weren’t helpful, or at least not helpful enough.  After awhile, you get skeptical of a new book or system, because nothing really worked.  Sure- 1, 2, 3 Magic,  Parenting with Love and Logic, and The Out of Sync Child helped, and gave me some tools to work with, but they weren’t really a great overall solution to parenting my intense kiddos.

At the end of last school year, I was lead to find an amazing book.  It’s called Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach.  You can watch videos to learn the basics of the Nurtured Heart approach here

You know when you can just tell that you’ve  found a book that will change your life?  This is one of those for me.

According to it’s creater, Howard Glasser, The Nurtured Approach is based on three ideas, or “stands”

  • Neutralize Negative Behavior (avoid making negative behavior rewarding)
  • Energize Positive Behavior in Meaningful Ways (make even small good choices more rewarding that bad choices)
  • Demonstrate Fair and Consistent Boundaries (consequences are consistent, given with little emotion, etc)

In just a matter of days of applying, we had a lot more peace, and a huge amount more co-operation in our home.  I really feel like our kids feel more appreciated and nurtured, and the applying the principles in the book helped me enjoy being with them all-day-long (HELLO- SUMMER!).

Here were a few things we noticed early on, starting to apply the Nurtured Heart approach:

Day 1:  E said:  “I don’t know what I ate, but I’m having a great day!”

Near the end of Day 2, E.  said: “I’m getting really tired of being Mr. Nice Guy!”

Day 3:  E. – worked hard, with hardly any any complaining, shoveling dirt with Nathan and I. (We needed to load the dirt left over from the new window well into a truck we’d borrowed to haul it away).  Near dinner time, E. accidently hurt S.  He must have felt bad, because when I gave him a time out, he kind of lost it, and flipped into (what I now see as) a self-defeating way of trying to get us to affirm his worth.  He escalated, and escalated, but I held firm, found ways to recognized when he showed any evidence of coping skills, without reverting to the old way of trying to soothe him.  Eventually it blew over.  At bedtime, when I went in his room, I told recognized him again for one of the choices he’d made, and pointed out that he was learning to be hard working.  I asked him what he thought his best choice was, and he shared a choice he made to be honest when it was hard.  I recognized that choice, and told him that I could see that he is learning to be honest.  Then, he surprised me by saying, “I’m sorry for losing it tonight”.  He hasn’t apologized without prompting very often.

Day 4:  Another great day- with lots of quick cooperation, little arguing about chores, and E. staying on task when asked to get ready to get out the door.  The girls had friends over in the morning, then we went to the library, then we came home, and got ready to go swimming.  It was a busy, busy day.  After dinner, E. lost it, and escalated, trying every tactic in his book- I’m a failure, you don’t want me in your family, even.  I noticed and commended him when he took calming breaths, when he used a quiet voice, etc.  In the end, he calmed himself down.

Day 5:  The kids were really cooperative (best ever!) in getting ready to go to the lake.  The kids and I spent a really enjoyable day at the lake- no whining, no meltdowns.  For the first time ever, I’d taken the kids swimming two days in a row, and felt like I could take them again the next day!

Fast forward a few months- we weren’t so good at using the Nurtured Heart approach for the first few months of the school year, but I’ve worked hard at getting back into the groove this new year.  But reading over the notes I kept of our first week, I realized that E. doesn’t escalate like he used to.  That behavior is completely gone.  We have more peace and happiness in our home (do we have perfect bliss?  of course not!) , and my intense kids feel more appreciated for what they are doing well.

I’ll be posting more soon about how applying the Nurtured Heart approach is helping during homeschooling.  If you can’t wait to hear more, you can read another bloggers posts about their experience with the Nurtured Heart approach here and here.



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This entry was posted on January 18, 2015 by in ADHD, Nurtured Heart Approach.
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