Honoring Greatness with the Nurtured Heart Approach
Tammy Small, M.Ed. and certified Nurtured Heart Trainer
"I Am Warning You..." Why Warnings Do Not Work to Honor Capabilities
October 12, 2008
Why warnings don’t work in building inner wealth and resiliency in our children.  One of the challenges highlighted in our discussions last week was the intention to step away from warnings, threats or “next time..” statements.  In theory, warnings seem a compassionate way to let a child know they are about to receive a consequence. However, warnings actually imply that the first time they broke a rule, it was okay. Or that, more tragically, they cannot HANDLE the consequence. As I work with parents and teachers around this issue, I remind them that the message we always want to give is that your children are capable – they are capable of handing a consequence, capable of calming themselves down, capable of following a rule.  Susan McLeod, a certified NHA trainer like myself (and co-coach with Glasser on www.energyparenting.com), highlights  FIVE ways that warnings actually weaken a child on the inside. 1. Warnings blur boundaries. A child cannot excel in reaching positive outcomes when rules, limits and consequences are unclear or inconsistent. 2. Warnings communicate mistrust. They tell a child, “I don’t trust you are smart enough to remember the rules – or wise enough to make good choices.” 3. Warnings create negative self-image. When a child hears repeated, Stop that! and No!, eventually the child’s experience is that “I am always doing something wrong.” Even if delivered with long, compassionate explanations, the message download is “I must be bad.”  4. Warnings interrupt important lessons. Children are programmed to test limits (as I recently ‘texted’ to my 16 year old daughter, “Your job is to test limits, my job is to keep you safe and set boundaries. Guess what? We are both doing our jobs!”) Children MUST find boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable behavior – and must find FOR THEMSELVES the consequences of breaking the rules. They are capable of handling this consequence. And the relationship is restored the moment they accept them!  5. Warnings are the first step to a pattern of negativity. The attention that goes into the lecture, warning, and negative behavior, creates a relationship where energy is to negativity.  It is addictive, and a child quickly learns that he/she increases connection and intensity when they act out – if warnings, attention and lectures are their payoffs.
So then what? Nurtured Heart is system of relationship where clear rules are consistently enforced – in an UNEMOTIONAL manner. Just as on the basketball court, a ref does not say, “You foul him again, and I will call it!”, you, too, will demand a quick, energy-withdrawn consequence for EVERY infraction of the rules.  BECAUSE YOUR CHILD CAN HANDLE IT – and because the TIME IN is so gloriously great.  This is your child showing: self-control, maturity, responsibility, respect, understanding, intelligence, cooperation, compassion, compliance, teamwork, etc.  And you proving to them how great they are!