Greatness Wrap-up

The final two chapters in Howard Glasser's book, All Children Flourishing, deal with time out and problems/solutions.  There is so much in these chapters.  They are challenging and intriguing.  In this final blog I will give you a summary of these chapters, but I can't encourage you enough to go get this book and read it yourself.  I have said it before…it is a completely different way of seeing discipline.  It rocks the boat on everything that has been ingrained into our experiences and knowledge about how to redirect children and give consequences to bad behavior.  It's easy to look at this approach and be convinced that it won't work.  But as I read and reread these chapters, a voice deep in me sang out "Yes!"  As a parent, I want so much for my son to know he is loved deeply and purely.  I desire for him to feel confident in who he is as well as strong and wise in the decisions he must face in his life.  I do not want him to be afraid to try things and make mistakes along the way.  I want that so much that I am willing to challenge myself to truly try the Nurtured Heart Approach.  To not give up on it and believe that it will yield wonderful results not only in my son, but in our family.  I hope you will give it a try too!
Glasser's title for chapter six is "The New Time Out."  Here is what he has to say about this crucial part of the Nurtured Heart Approach:
Adults and children have come to see rule breaking as a terrible thing that must be avoided at all costs.  Warnings, lectures and other kinds of intense connections often surface around trying to prevent children from breaking the rules.  But focusing on trying to prevent rule breaking contributes more energy toward negative behaviors.  When adults stop thinking in terms of preventing rule breaking – when they step aside and allow children to experience what really happens when they break a rule, the children have an inescapably clear first hand experience that helps them cement their understanding of the benefits they need for following them.  Children know perfectly well that if they really want to break a rule, there's not much anyone can do to stop them.  Admonishments and threats put more fuel on the fire we are trying to extinguish.  Keep in mind that breaking rules is a part of learning the world.  Just remember not to look the other way when a consequence is needed.
The purpose of consequences in the Nurtured Heart Approach is to maintain the default to positivity.  We don't use warnings or lectures, but a simple, brief and immediate consequence for a rule broken.  Our culture has come to believe that a consequence has to be drastic in order to work, or it won't be effective in changing the child's ways.  There is some logic to this, and it works to keep most children in line to some extent.  But the level of punishment or severity of a consequence is not what makes it powerful.  A longer, stronger, louder or more frightening consequence is not the thing that will awaken the child to the error  of his ways and drive him never to do that deed again.  Here's what brings the child to a place where he does not want to break the rules: an awakening to his successfulness and greatness.  Why bother breaking the rules when rule-breaking only gets in the wa of the fun of being in the game of life?
The real truth is that time-out is an illusion; it's about the child perceiving that a result has taken place.  The power of the consequence lies in creating a momentary interruption in the occurrence of the problem.  And the purpose of the interruption is to allow the parent to jump to the next available moment of success – where inner wealth can be further expanded. Under the Nurtured Heart Approach, I (Glasser) recommend using only a brief, clean time-out.  By "clean" I mean with absolutely no fanfare – the simplest of instructions given with no energy or emotion.  Keep time outs short!  They can last anywhere from two seconds to a minute..(Yes!  That is what he says and he repeats it again.)  If time in is insignificant, this kind of time-out will have no effect whatsoever!   If time-in is sufficiently strong, this kind of brief time-out can move mountains.   As soon as the child completes the time-out, take immediate advantage of the opportunity to point out more success. Clear, clean limits and consequences are a gift that brings simplicity to a child.  Simplicity is yet one more gift of greatness, as is the greatness of closure: that there is always a result of a violation or a mistake, but it has an end…and on the other side is yet more success – often, greater levels of success than ever before.  The "kiss" of forgiveness that is inherent in being welcomed back into the game by way of these further successes is perhaps the greatest gift of all.  This kind of forgiveness lends sweetness to the heart, opening it to new beginnings.
Glasser goes on to talk about how warnings and lectures really do not work.  He talks about how to handle a child who refuses the time-out.  He gives a whole list of Dos and Don'ts when using time-out.  He gives examples for right ways to use time-out and wrong ways.  Glasser also devotes a whole chapter to problems and solutions.  I hope you'll read this for yourself.  It's great stuff!
I really can't say enough about this book.  I am going to get his first book; Transforming the Difficult Child" just to read more about the Nurtured Heart Approach.  If this Approach does work, I can see a new generation of young people growing up with a heart full of love, compassion and forgiveness for themselves, their family and the world.   What an incredible generation that would be!!!
Thank you to Howard Glasser for being brave enough to travel on this road and to share it with us.  Most of what I wrote in these blogs are his words.  I take no credit for them.  And thank you for joining me on this journey.  I hope to hear your thoughts.  Write anytime!   Blessings to you always!

Greatness Part 6

The last method/technique Glasser writes about in relation to the Nurtured Heart Approach is called Creative Recognition.   This method deals with us creating situations that will transport children into success while promoting a child's sense of cooperation and collaboration.  Essentially, we are creating the compliance before the child can do otherwise and then we praise him for that success.  Glasser suggests some tips when applying this technique;  1.  Start with an utterly doable request.  Make the request, then energize the child's response and effect.   2.  Avoid polite or diplomatic ways of starting out a request, like "would you", "could you" or even "please".   3. Convey a message that every moment in the right direction is valued.  4.  When resistance comes up, remember your stands: relentless pursuit of positivity, strict rule enforcement and no leaks of negativity.
Some examples of this method are:
1.  At clean up, a request is made: "I need you to get started cleaning up."  The child starts to push the blocks slowly, but in the general direction of the block bin.  You respond right away with "I notice that you are starting to put the blocks in the bin.  I really appreciate how well you listened when I said it was time to clean up."
2.  You've told the kids that it's time to start preparing for bed.  Just as the child looks up from the computer or the TV and starts to stretch and get up – maybe not with the intention of heading to his room to change – you say, " I see you are getting ready to go put your pajamas on.  I appreciate that you are getting up and are starting to do as I asked.  You are following directions and I appreciate that.
3.  Joseph's Story:  Glasser worked with a family of a 6 year old who was pretty much off the map in terms of compliance.  He easily got himself kicked out of class often which in turn lead him to go to the office (reward!) and be surrounded by administrators and office personnel (attention!).  Glasser shared the Nurtured Heart approach with his family and the father pretty much laughed at Glasser.  He told Glasser that his son has never done anything that they have asked him to do and didn't believe he would cooperate anytime soon.  The next time Glasser saw them, the child had begun to turn around.  When Glasser asked the father how they did it, the father shared how it started…using the Creative Recognition method….The dad shared that Joseph was getting in the car; he sat down and was pulling the door closed when the father asked him to close the door.  It was already half done, too late to reverse it.  When the door clicked closed, the father said "Joseph, thanks for doing just what I asked you to do.  That's great following directions."  Joseph then clicked his seat belt on and dad turned around and told him to put his seat belt on.  And then his father accused him of being successful.  He said, "Wow!  This time, it was almost as if you heard my request inside your brain and I didn't even have to say it.  You know what I wanted and you cooperated.  I appreciate that."   Within a few weeks of this approach being used, Joseph had a complete turn around.
Glasser has worked with parents who struggle with putting this approach into practice.  It feels unnatural and strange.  Glasser encourages parents to keep at it.  It will become more natural and the results will be worth it.  He says that once it starts to feel more comfortable, it will only takes 5 to 10 seconds to find the moments and praise your child in them.  If you do this 10 – 30 times a day, that is less than 5 minutes of your total day.
Glasser reminds us that the four methods build on one another and are designed to be used fluidly, in combination. He encourages us to practice our vocabulary to where we can shower our children with praise effortlessly.  The simplicity and brevity of this approach are a key reason it is so effective.  It cuts to the heart of information that most strongly motivates and encourages children.  Specific praises and requests bring to light what the child can value in his or her self abundantly clear.
I'll end this method with some examples that I love.  Glasser shares them as ways to link the child's very existence to something great and wonderful.  Always feel free to share your thoughts.  I would love to hear them.
"It's such fun to have you in this family."
"Your presence adds a needed calmness to the family."
"I like seeing how your siblings smile when you enter the room."
"I love the energy and enthusiasm that you bring to all you do."

Greatness Part 5

Yes, I am still reading and writing about Howard Glasser's All Children Flourishing book.  With an 18 month old, I am finding it hard to sit and read and write lately, but I am still at it.  I am almost finished with the book, so this series should be coming to an end in a couple of more blogs.  I am still in love with this approach. It is completely different from what I have been taught or have used, and I find it refreshing.
We are now on the third of four methods/techniques Glasser uses in his Nurtured Heart Approach. It is called Proactive Recognition. This method builds on both Active and Experiential Recognition.  At the heart of this method are the household rules.  Glasser says a lot about rules in this chapter, too much for me to write about.  I will continue to encourage you to get the book and read about it yourself, but I will summarize it the best I can.  Glasser emphasizes that when it comes to the house rules, they need to be specific, which means that they must be stated in a negative way to make them effective.  Now this runs contrary to the "positive discipline" approach that is so popular today.  (The positive approach is what I was trained to use as a teacher.)   Glasser explains that positive rules such as "be respectful",  "do as you are told", "keep your hands to yourself" and "use good manners" can be fuzzy and confusing for children.  What exactly is being respectful?   What are considered good manners?  To be successful with boundaries, children need to know exactly what they are.  It is much more helpful for parents as well.  When rules are stated positively, we tend to give warning after warning as a child pushes the boundary.  Glasser encourages us to state rules in this way; no hitting, no pushing, no grabbing things away from others, no talking back to adults, no name calling, no teasing, no disobeying a request from a parent/teacher, no chewing with your mouth open, no playing with your food, no interrupting, no tantrums, no bad words…   With these rules, it is clear to children and adults when a rule has and has not been broken.  Glasser states that if we also look at rule breaking as a matter of choice than a mistake, this helps us further appreciate a child's choice NOT to break the rules. 

Glasser says that different households will have different rules, but it really doesn't matter how many rules you have.  He also says that writing down the rules for the child is not necessary.  If we are using the Nurtured Heart Approach and its methods the way it is intended to be used, children will learn the rules simply through our recognition of them following the rules.  Writing down the rules for ourselves, though, is a good idea.  As I stated earlier, in Proactive Recognition, we are pursuing success in moments when children are making the choice to not break the rules.  This is what builds up their inner greatness, helping them recognize that they are great and are making great choices as they are doing it. Here are some tips for applying this method;  1.  Take a moment where your child is following the rules, view it as a photo opportunity and then celebrate it verbally.  2.  Consciously find moments when nothing seems to be happening, then, capture those moments by acknowledging your child for not breaking the rules or pushing the limits in that instant.  3.  Create at least one rule, preferably many, that your child seldom, if ever, breaks.  4.  Don't concern yourself, at the outset, with having a big discussion of "the new rules" with your children.  Let the child be taught the rules through the experience of following them and being acknowledged for that.
Glasser assures us that if we are genuinely using this approach, we do not have to worry about "giving children ideas about how to break rules".  If we are strongly focusing on success and devoting little energy to poor choices, children will gravitate to making good choices.  They want recognition from adults.  It is what they hunger for.  Glasser also states that we can't praise our kids too much, as long as it is genuine and sincere.  Children, like adults, know when a compliment is not from the heart.
Each method to the Nurtured Heart Approach is interconnected.  It is important to put each phase of the book into practice and build upon them in order for this approach to really take root and grow.  It will feel strange at first because it is not what we are naturally use to, but in time it will become second nature.  I believe that it will feel so good to celebrate the greatness of each other as we grow and live together.
Here are some examples for Proactive Recognition:
"Brandon, I appreciate that you have not used foul language at all this morning.  Thanks for following the rules."   "Jason, I like that you are not teasing your brother.  That's a great example of following the rules and also a great way to be a friend."  "Jon, I love that you have not argued with me at all while I've been helping you with your project.  That shows you are patient."  "Maggie, choosing to not grab back that toy from your brother shows me that you really think about things before you decide what to do.  You chose to be considerate, and you chose not to break the rule.  Choosing to be fair is a great quality that you have."  "I noticed that you made a very big decision, Kelly, to go to clean up the toys without arguing or fussing.  I can tell you really didn't want to do it.   A lot of kids think power has to do with aggression, but great power has to do with great decisions and great actions."

Greatness Part 4

The second method/technique Glasser talk about is Experiential Recognition.  I would like to take a look at this method in this post.  Once again I will use Glasser's words often as I write.   Experiential Recognition is where we use positive reflections to help instill values.  We create, for the child, a picture of a current or recent event and frame it in a way that shows the child how a desirable value is or was reflected in that moment.  Glasser uses examples from the first method, Active Recognition and adds the element of values…
"I see that you are using red, yellow and green yarn to make your weaving.  You are sticking with it, even though it's taking a long time to finish.  Great work!  Great perseverance."
"I can hear that you and your other group members are collaborating on your homework project.  You're being a valuable member of the team, showing cooperation.  I appreciate that."
"I see that you're really frustrated right now.  You're handling those tough feelings without lashing out or yelling at anyone.  You are using great restraint and power and using good judgement."
So what are values exactly?   Values are qualities of behavior, thought and character regarded by a society as intrinsically good; as having desirable results; and that are worthy of imitation by others.  They are principles that govern behavior and reflect what is considered to be good or bad, or moral and immoral, in a culture.  In essence they are attributes of the heart.  Some are… patience, respect, tolerance, integrity, leadership, perseverance, confidence, courage… I listed some more at the end of my Part 2 post.
Glasser explains that we can talk and talk about these values to our children without really teaching them how to live those values.  When we think about a typical "teaching moment" with our children they usually happen when the child is doing something wrong.  We say things like, "That's not very considerate!" or "You need to be respectful!".  We tell our children to stop doing the behavior we are observing and then we launch into a lecture about the values they should have…sharing their toys, waiting their turn or thinking of others' feelings.  At this time our children are on the defensive.  They are probably not going to leave that situation with an internal desire to be more considerate or respectful.  Energetically we are rewarding the misbehavior.  How much more powerful is it for us when we are acknowledged and praised when doing something good, instead of when we make mistakes?  If that rings true for us, how much more does it relate to how our children respond?
Some tips Glasser gives when applying this method are 1. Start with Active Recognition and add a comment about how what the child is doing or has done is a reflection of a value you wish to instill.  2. Make an effort to apply this technique in moments when your child is behaving well.  3. Express your excitement about what you're seeing in the child.  4.  Remember that every desirable quality has many ways of being expressed and observed.
Glasser goes on to say that Experiential Recognitions deepen children's growing sense of who they are as people of greatness – as having and honing the qualities that comprise a great human being.  I know that in my own experiences in life, I have been in environments that have challenged me and built me up to be the person I am today.  Mixed in with those environments were ones that really caused me to doubt myself and my abilities.  I remember for my husband who spent 11 years doing youth ministry and is now a pastor, there was one experience that almost caused him to leave ministry and pursue a different vocation.  That environment continually focused on what he was not doing and should be doing, instead of what he was doing and how he was valuable.  When I think about how situations have influenced us, I am convinced that this approach can be life changing in our children, no matter what age they may be.
I will leave you with a few more examples of Experiential Recognition.  I would also love to hear your stories about those people or environments that changed your life.
"James, you're showing a respectful attitude in the soccer game.  Excellent sportsmanship!"
"I see that you are very focused and using a lot of concentration.  That is super effort!"
"I heard you ask Alex to stop chasing you, and I see that you got really frustrated when he didn't listen.  I like that you used your words first and then you chose to walk away.  You used really good judgement and great inner strength."
"I want to praise you for the honesty you showed in this tough situation.  That is not easy, and doing the right thing like this is a great quality."

Greatness Part 3

You may want to read the past two blogs to get updated on where we are.  I am now reading the second part of the book, All Children Flourishing.  The second part is called, The Parent's Guide to the Nurtured Heart Approach.  I am still in love with this approach.  It's a totally different way of thinking when it comes to discipline.  I have begun to implement it in my own family and it takes some getting use to because it is not what comes naturally.  It is so easy to point out what is going wrong and use language to try to fix the wrongs all the time, but I am committed to sticking to it.  I think it is worth trying as I want to build up my son to have confidence, strength and courage. I think it may just rub off on Brian and I as well!
So I keep reading…Chapter 5 talks about the "stands" and the methods with this approach to parenting/discipline.  Howard Glasser states that at the core of the Nurtured Heart Approach is the ability to zero in on what's going right instead of giving all our energy to our children when things are going wrong.  Let's review the four underlying concepts of the Nurtured Heart Approach that we've examined so far.  1.  We are our child's favorite toy.  They can make us "pop" and react easily, but it is important for us to control when we "pop" and how.  2.  Catching goodness vs. Creating goodness; Shamu  3. Choosing the way we see things; recognizing success and celebrating those successes.  4.  Clear rules, Clear consequences and right back in the game of greatness; Video Game Theory.
Now let's take a look at the three stands.  The Nurtured Heart Approach is founded on these three stands.  Each stand is supported by the four underlying concepts.  Essentially they are the "commandments" of this approach.  The key in using these stands is not perfect execution.  No one is perfect and these stands may get broken from time to time.   They hopefully will become motivation or guideposts to help us get back on track when needed.   Stand I:  The relentless pursuit and celebration of positivity.   Stand II: Strict Rule Enforcement.   Stand III: Not leaking negativity.  Glasser uses an illustration of a three legged table.  Keep all three legs in place and your table won't topple.  And if you see it wobbling, act quickly to get it steady once again.  For me, this means I must be honest with myself.  To accept that I make mistakes and may not always be handling situations in the best way.  I have experienced this while teaching.  I have apologized to more than one student in my teaching experiences so far because of how I may have reacted in a situation.  I am not perfect.  I do fall short.  It has been humbling and enlightening to accept that and be vulnerable in those situations.  It surely has strengthened relationships with students and peers as well as in my own marriage.
Today I will focus on just one method.  Glasser encourages us to start applying each method/technique on its own before going onto the next.  So I am working on the first one now.  It is called Active Recognition.  This technique is all about observing and verbalizing what the child is actually doing, without judgement or evaluation.  Glasser refers to it as a "verbal snapshot".  For example:  "I see you are using red, yellow and green yarn to make your weaving."   "I can hear that you and your other group members are collaborating on your homework project."   "I see that you are really angry right now and I see that you are handling it beautifully."   Basically we are showing the child that they are not invisible.  We are sending the message that they are being seen, acknowledged and appreciated.  Glasser emphasizes that we only do this when the child is doing something positive, never when they are doing something wrong.  Once a child has crossed the line, it's consequence time.  This technique is used to help wire a child toward positivity.  Children may rebel against this technique, especially if they are use to us pointing out what they are not doing right.  Glasser tells us to not give in!  Stay away from being sucked into that negativity. (Stand III)   It is good to acknowledge that we are trying to be more positive and use our energy and interaction by noticing each other in positive ways.  When applying this technique, Glasser tells us to use neutral, non-judgemental language to make the message as "digestible" as possible.  Children may resist this technique, but they can't argue or deny direct observations that we give.  Also, Glasser writes to be as specific as possible.  "Good job, "thank you" or even "that's beautiful" with all the emotion and good intentions in the world isn't going to help the child know exactly what you mean.  Glasser makes great empahsis on using this technique to help support children with healthy experessions of emotions.  So often parents tell their children to "Stop crying.",  "Stop acting so angry, no one did anything to you!", "Don't you start crying!",  "Don't be a baby!"   We may be trying to help our children be stong on the inside, but encouraging them to hide their feelings will not help them grow stronger. Instead, we are acknowledging that they do experience emotions and show strength by handling them in healthy ways.  I can only imagine how frustrated children can fell when they are dealing with strong emotions.  Even after 30 plus years of experiencing life, I don't always know how to handle emotions like grief, envy, dissapointment and anger, to name a few.  Glasser says that even asking children to talk about how they are feeling and why they are feeling that way doesn't help.  It's the acknowledgement, support and unconditional love that helps a child find greatness within even in the midst of emotions. I want to end this blog by sharing more examples Glasser gives for Active Recognition. The latter ones deal specifically with connecting qualities of greatness with the verbal snapshots we give to our children.  I hope they are helpful to you.   I am alway open to hearing your thoughts.  Let me know how it is working for you if you choose to try this technique.  I know my son is still very young, but I am enjoying sharing these snapshots with him.  I am even trying to do it more with my husband.  I don't think I give him enough recognition and acknowledgement during a regular day.   I say "thank you" too much!   It's been fun to work on my vocabulary!
More examples for Active Recognition:  "Jo, I see you are building a tower with colored blocks and you are being extremely careful as you place them to keep the tower balanced!"  "Paul, I can tell you are eager to go outside."  "Erin, you're gluing colored paper scraps to your project.  I see pink, purple adn green scraps in your pile and you're connecting them at all kinds of interesting angles."  "Tom, I saw how those kids were annoying you and how you chose to not give them any enery.  And I also can tell you are frustrated, and you are handling that strong feeling well.  I really appreciate how powerful you are being, not taking your anger out on those kids or anyone else.  That power is a great quality you have."  "Bob, I noticed you wiping down the counter after dinner.  I know it's your job, but I just really appreciate that you do this so well and take it seriously and hardly ever need to be reminded.  Your helpfulness is a quality of greatness that I admire in you."
One last thought… When I first read these, I thought they were strange and drawn out, but the more I thought about it, I realized that when children usually do something wrong, adults tend to get at their level and have this conversation asking the child what they did, why they did it and what should they have done.  So it's really very much the same thing, except it's done when the child is doing the right things, reinforcing the activity and actions that we want to see them doing, instead of trying to tell them what they should be doing when they are not doing it….giving energy and "popping" at the right time.  I think I am getting this, Howard Glasser!