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Thursday 15 March 2012


Descriptions and Definitions

Nurtured Heart is a classroom management system that can be used with any age group or maturity level. It is closely related to Canter, Lee's work on Assertive Discipline. Its goal is to reward desired behaviors with positive attention and to not reward undesired behavior with attention of any sort. The belief is that children, especially difficult children, desire attention and energy from teachers and parents. Many of these children have learned through classical conditioning that misbehaving earns attention from parents, teachers, and administrators. If this attention is not given, but peers are awarded with positive attention, they too will seek attention by exhibiting the desired positive behavior.

Howard Glasser of the Childrens' Success Foundation
Howard Glasser created the Nurtured Heart Approach in the 1990s when nothing else worked with difficult children. He recognized that behavior got worse with more attention and that "aduts are children's favorite toys," (7). Just as a toy is more fun if when manipulated it responds with exciting responses, difficult children are 'playing' you to try to get interesting responses. Nurtured Heart is not about ignoring negative behaviors, it actually requires strict consequences, but first a relationship must be formed between the educator and the students. Students must first realize that they are good and worthy; many students have never heard a positive comment about their character or decisions. You must not just catch good behavior, you must build the child's inner-wealth and not give attention to bad behavior. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy that we try to create. A student that has always heard and now believes that he or she is bad will act accordingly. Students that begin to view themselves as good people will behave accordingly, as well. Students will only change their self-image through stimuli, and in this case, positive stimuli. Compliments on what they do well and rewarding good choices helps, but the student must hear positive aspects of his or her character. "You are a risk taker, you are exceptionally creative, or you are a natural born leader," are a few examples.

In a Nut-Shell

Tom Grove states that educators need to remember these basics: 1. Your energy is the most valuable prize for kids 2. Responding to problems is like throwing gas on a fire 3. Be "totally captured by success- not problems," (18) 4. The rules must be clear from the beginning

Implementation examples

The difficultchild.com website provides a number of examples of successful implementations of the nurtured heart approach. Aside from classroom environments, it has been used as a tool for encouraging success in the placement of foster children, reducing medication associated with conditions such as ADHD, and in reducing recidivism amongst juveniles who have been assigned to juvenile hall. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) implemented a program where children who were referred to them because of behavior management problems were supported with Nurtured Heart before seeing a physician. When a physician typically saw a child, medication referral rates were close to 75%. Children who went through a nurtured heart program were referred for medication less than 3% of the time. Additional studies show statistically significant benefits associated with this program.


- Inner-wealth initiative - Nutured Heart - Focus on the Positive
Types of Application in Classrooms

Create Success in the Classroom

Difficult children need to feel success and see that it feels good. They have heard that they are 'bad,' 'going nowhere,' and 'worthless,' their whole lives. You need to nurture the hearts of these students and build their inner-wealth. Once they see that they can get attention for positive behavior, they will be more likely to repeat the desired behaviors. Sometimes you need to work hard to do this. When a child is trying to get your attention with negative behavior, you must not give any energy to the situation but rather compliment the behaviors of students that exhibiting the desired behaviors. You eed to find out what the difficult child is doing right and begin with that. It may be a big step for a child to simply bring a book or pencil to class; compliment this behavior. Recognize the great decisions that students make, even if you have to dig deep. If a student calls another student a name, you may recognize that it shows strong character that the student did not hit the other student. Once a student finds that he or she can get recognition for positive behavior, it is likely that the positive behavior will be repeated.

Critics and Their Rationale

There are many critics to this fairly new approach. Some feel that Nurtured Heart is 'too nice' or 'soft.' Tom Grove shows that the opposite is true, it is strict as the expectations are high and the consequences firm. Others claim that teachers are actually hurting students as they learn to only behave if being complimented. Nurtured heart is about buildig inner-wealth. Students will no longer only exhibit the desired behaviors for compliments as they begin to believe that they are good and capable of not just behaving, but doing quality work.
Alternative Explanations due to Diversity Considerations

Nurtured Heart has proven to be effective in all schools, even in schools with high numbers of minority and low socio economic statues students. Schools in Tuscon, Arizona have found it to have great positive effects on the entire student population. Schools such as these have even found that additional students are not being diagnosed and treated for ADHD because the students are finding success in schools implementing Nurture Heart (11).

Life Experiences, Testimonies, and Stories

I have taken the Nurtured Heart training and am currently working with Tom Grove on how to incorporate these ideas into my classroom. I teach high school mathematics and am in my second year. I think there are some great philosophies in Nurtured Heart but there are some things I don't fully agree with. I am trying to show these students that I do value and care about them and want to praise them as often as I can. From my little experience with Nurtured Heart, the idea is to praise these students deep down for everything that you can. When they show up to class, this means that they value being in class and they could have chosen to not be here, but what greatness are they showing by being in class, and then tell them that greatness. When students do their homework, this means they took responsibility for their learning and that they want to be successful. These are the kinds of praise they are looking for with this approach, it is more than just saying "good job" and "way to go". Really praise them for how great they are! E. Kaffel

References and Links of Interest

Grove, Tom, Howard Glasser, with Melissa Lynn Block. The Inner Wealth Initiative: The Nurtured Heart Approach for Educators. Nurtured Heart Publications, Tucson, AZ. 2007.


1 comment:

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