Honoring greatness with the Nurtured Heart Approach
Tammy Small, M.Ed. and certified Nurtured Heart Trainer
I have written in the last issues of Counselor Corner about the value of nurturing a person toward their greatness, and as a terrific tool for moving students toward their best behaviors and choices.  Tom Grove, co-author of The Inner Wealth Initiative:  The Nurtured Heart Approach for Educators, points out that in our attempts to get ‘good behavior’ or compliance from our kids, we are often quick to correct and slow to praise even the simplest of behaviors.  Yet, we help kids recognize their own greatness best – and step into their best selves - by naming the very behaviors, attitudes and attributes that make them such amazing learners, teammates, siblings, listeners, thinkers.  Our goal as parents is to help our children rise to themselves!  Help them know these qualities are in them already – and name them every time we see them being exhibited.  Be a ruthless opportunist, as Tom says, in building their inner wealth, in noticing when they are showing effort, kindness, self-control, compliance.  Students that believe in their own greatness, can handle consequences and set-backs because they know they are great – but they have stumbled.  Don’t just tell them you love them – name the qualities they exhibit that are remarkable.  Give them irrefutable evidence of their greatness – so that when they do slip, you can help them re-step back.  Own their mistake – but move again toward becoming the best version of themselves they can.  I remind my students often that just because I know I am great, does not mean I am perfect.  But a great person, a person who believes in their own powerful qualities, is resilient, and can look at their flaws – and focus on their strengths to move past their problems.  
For example, I am a very good multi-tasker.  I can do many things and track many things simultaneously.  This is part of my greatness.  Sometimes, because I am not perfect, I forget things.  Sometimes, because I am a great multi-tasker, I am not a perfect multi-tasker.  And so I learn to use my greatness to overcome the flaw.  I use a day planner.  I make lists.  I put things (my keys, my phone, my IPod, my children – well, I wish!) in the same place each time I come home.  I have learned that if I don’t, then I forget.  My greatness overcomes my flaw.  The flaw is still there.  But I focus on what I can do – not how I can mess it up!
You might begin by sitting down with your kids and naming the behaviors and skills you want from them as active, family members.  List the attributes – include dozens you already see exhibited by your children.  Then post them on the fridge – pick one for the task in front of you (eating breakfast, getting dressed) or a couple for the day ahead (in class, in soccer practice, at grandma’s house)  (See my list at the bottom of this article for a starter list to draw from).   Decide which great attribute you need from them.  Then name it every little time you see it.  One child not exhibiting it?  Ignore them.  Praise and name the behavior in the other.  I will say more on non-compliance in future columns.  
Meanwhile, practice nurturing your own inner wealth.  Did you read this column all the way through?  Did you think about your own flaws – the ones you waste time focusing on?  Did you think about the great qualities of your kids?  Way to go – you are well on your way to building your inner wealth and the inner wealth of those you touch!
CUT and POST these inner wealth qualities of greatness you can recognize and build:
  1. Readiness
  2. Attentiveness
  3. Cooperation
  4. Patience
  5. Reflectiveness
  6. Problem-solving
  7. Deciding
  8. Guessing
  9. Asking for help
  10. Self-control
  11. Remembering
  12. Deducting
  13. Respectful
  14. Sensitivity
  15. Listening
  16. Prepared
  17. Organized
  18. Participating
  19. Cooperative
  20. Alert
What is Inner Wealth and why is it critical to resilience?
Monday, June 9, 2008