Greatness in our Children

Being a mom is beautiful and amazing as well as exhausting and challenging.  
With some of our latest behavior challenges, I wanted to go back and revisit a book I read a while ago.  As I read through my blogs about this book, I thought I would “re-share” it with all of you. 
They are a bit long, but filled with great reminders for me.  
Perhaps they do not relate to your season of life right now, but if they do, I pray this book may speak to your heart like it did to mine.  
I will forever recommend this book.  
Brian and I used this approach with Zachary, but I am finding we have fallen away from it; going back to reacting to the negative with more energy.  
I want to turn that around again.  We need to turn it around again and nurture all our hearts.
I am reading a new book, All Children Flourishing; Igniting the Greatness of Our Children
by Howard Glasser, M.A. with Melissa Lynn Block, M.Ed.  
This is a companion to his first book,
Transforming The Difficult Child.  
Approximately 5 years ago, I attended a workshop led by Howard Glasser which addressed his first book.  
It was a wonderful workshop.  
He focused mostly on his work with families whose children were full of high energy and high intensity.  His books talk about a new disciplinary approach for parenting called the Nurtured Heart Approach. 
 As I read his new book, I am falling in love with this approach.  I am only on Chapter 4.  The first four chapters introduce the Nurtured Heart Approach.  The rest of the book will talk about the nuts and bolts of the approach; how it works.  As I read through All Children Flourishing I have decided to blog my thoughts to help me process this approach. 
 I hope you don’t mind.  Perhaps we can all learn something from it.
You can find more information about Howard Glasser and the Nurtured Heart Approach at difficultchild.com or nurturinggreatness.net.
As I work on finishing chapter 4, let me try to sum up what I am learning about the Nurtured Heart Approach.  I do recommend the book as it says so much more than I will be able to in this blog, but I’ll do my best to summarize.  I will use his words often as he describes this approach so well. 
 Glasser first began to use this approach as he worked with families who were struggling.  
Their children were making bad decisions and ending up getting into serious trouble. 
 Parents were feeling a loss of control.  
Discipline and structure were not working in school or in family life.  
Glasser’s new approach to discipline began to show such dramatic positive results, that he wrote a book about it, Transforming The Difficult Child.  
Parents began to write to him, telling him how they have used the approach with all of their children even if they were not all struggling.  Because these results were so positive, Glasser wrote his second book, All Children Flourishing.  
He says that the events of 9/11 compelled him to write this second book.  He sees a generation of children carrying more uncertainty and less hope than just a few years before.  They sense the fears of adults and have a great need to be significantly stronger on the inside.
The Nurtured Heart Approach is designed to be proactive vs. reactive.  
It is an approach to greatness, a method of recognizing and appreciating the gifts each child possesses and helping the child discover their greatness.  
He describes this greatness as a child’s inner wealth.   
Glasser begins his sessions with families with an illustration comparing adults to a child’s toy.  
Imagine a child with a new toy.  He’s likely to spend time exploring it and finding out how it responds to his manipulations.  Most likely the child will find features that he will return to over and over, the ones that make the most noise or create the most movement or spectacle, that is most exciting.  
I know Zachary loves to push the buttons that make the lights turn on or the music play.  So much so that we sometimes hide those toys that we need a break from!  Can you relate?   
So think about us adults and how we typically react to situations with our children.  
Aren’t we far more animated and energized when there is adversity?  
Adults tend to be more tuned in and captivating when things are going wrong. 
 Think about how you react when your child says “no” to doing what she’s told or when she snaps back at you with sarcasm or disrespect.  Perhaps your voice gets louder and more expressive, your body gets more active or you get more physically close to your child in an attempt to deal with what you see as a problem.  While we might consider this to be a punishment, Glasser goes on to explain that a child may not view it this way.  He may dislike that we are angry but energetically, he’s being fed in a way he rarely is when he’s doing the right things.
The Nurtured Heart Approach is about flipping this “upside-down” approach to a “right-side up” approach.  It is about creating successes in our children and giving them the attention and energy during these times, in the moment.  
Glasser explains that at their core, children want adult presence and energy.  Some need bigger and more powerful doses than others, but all children desire it. 
 It does not mean that we ignore problems.  
In fact, Glasser says that we must be consistent and strict in those times, but that the way we approach them and react to them must give off much less energy.  
When things are going well, when a child isn’t having issues or problems, we are relatively boring.  
We tend to have little presence, not much to say and don’t give much energy to what we do say.  “Thank you” or “good job” are frequent responses to a child behaving in a positive way, but compared to our reactions in negative situations, this is pretty boring.  So our challenge as adults is to reverse this.
So how does this approach actually work?  
How are we ‘supposed’ to react during positive times and how are we ‘supposed’ to react during problem times?   
All good questions and all to be answered in future chapters.  
There are many questions I have about this approach, as you probably do as well.  
Nevertheless, this approach is speaking to my heart.  
 I believe that kids not only need to hear they are special and loved, but that they need to know it in their heart and soul.  
How do they come to know it?  
I really believe that it is through stong, positive interaction and experiences with adults that they come to really know that they are special, strong and loved.  Adults have such a huge impact on how children at any age see themselves.  I have witnessed it so often as a teacher. 
 So I am looking forward to reading more and hopefully grasping a greater picture of how this approach works.  So this might be quite a journey.  
I hope you will hang on with me.  
Thanks for letting me “think out loud.”  Please know that I am processing all of this as I read and write.  My thoughts may change as I continue reading.  We shall see.  Feel free to write your own questions and thoughts. I’ll do my best to address them as I continue to read the book.

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