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."