Honoring greatness with the Nurtured Heart Approach
Tammy Small, M.Ed. and certified Nurtured Heart Trainer

Parents set boundaries. Kids test them. Parents create rules. Kids break them.  One of the most dramatic (re)revelations I had as a parent recently, related to this simple checks and balances of parenting life. As a parent of two teenage daughters, I am constantly being tested by my Nurtured Heart roots, to be firm, consistent, and also positive.  The first two are easy when the boundaries are tested, the rules broken.  But how do you stay positive in that moment?  As we step into the certainty of an Easter alive, I thought it would be good Spring renewal of our own to coach us back into our kids capabilities.  Even when they break a rule!
A relentless pursuit of the positive – and a solid belief that, in relationship with your child, “There is nothing they can say or do that will dissuade you from believing in their ability to be successful!” This core conviction begins with ourselves first (i.e.I AM A SUCCESSFUL PARENT!), and with how we interpret and handle a broken rule.  So many parents place blame for a broken rule back on themselves (I wasn’t clear, I didn’t teach him well enough, I am a (gulp!) bad parent, I have worked too much, I should have said ‘no’ more firmly, not paid attention, etc.)  and so the list goes of leaking negativity back to ourselves.  We forget (and this part is hard to swallow as parents) that a child’s job is to test and challenge. It is the necessary growth of their separate identity – and the own understanding of their world.  Broken rules are not personal – and when a parent can step away from any emotion around them, then the real positive energy can win.  A child’s whining for a new toy, another treat, a trip to the mall/park/friend’s.  A non-Nurtured Heart parent might get frustrated, and snap, thinking, I buy you everything! She might lecture, ”You just had ice cream yesterday. You can’t have everything”…energy, energy, more negative energy. But if you are diligently positive, and see your child’s efforts as part of their “job”, then you can recognize their skills, even as they break a rule/push a boundary.  They are creative, problem-solvers, who love new things and desire to learn more.  They are flexible, motivated and energetic.  I heard a parent respond just so over break, as we were standing in Starbucks.  “I can see why you like that mug! Look at all the colors! I like the dark one over there. What else do you like?”  Sure it is a form of distraction – but it is also not dismissing their interests and desires.  You can honor patience – and for many, persistence in their quests to go and do and more and more. You can honor energy and goal-setting. “What would it take for you to earn that new shirt, I wonder?” (I did just this with my 14 year old on Saturday!)  Out of that discussion, I got a few more dogs walks, and several weeks of a cleaner bathroom.  (All privileges could be lost using our rule of  NO REMINDERS  – as that would be a leak of energy – and diminish her capability of following the rule/deal).  Children are brilliant negotiators.  Add this to the gifts/qualities I named above, and  who wouldn’t want to work under a leader with those skills?  Children can handle “no” and every time they do, you can honor their self-discipline, they way they manage their strong feelings, like disappointment, and their ability to be resilient.  Gifts of a leader. Gifts we parents pass on each time we name them – and keep our boundaries firm, our rules strict. And our recognition steady.  Kids have permission to break rules. And we have the duty to give quick, emotionless consequences. Because most of the time – they follow the rules, stay within the boundaries – and use their gifts of self-awareness well.  Be intentioned in your recognition of these qualities, because whatever we name we will get more of. I for one, want more patience!  This is me being patient for the sunshine.  (And look! My patience is rewarded!).
Thank Goodness They Break the Rules!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009