The final two chapters in Howard Glasser's book, All Children Flourishing, deal with time out and problems/solutions. There is so much in these chapters. They are challenging and intriguing. In this final blog I will give you a summary of these chapters, but I can't encourage you enough to go get this book and read it yourself. I have said it before...it is a completely different way of seeing discipline. It rocks the boat on everything that has been ingrained into our experiences and knowledge about how to redirect children and give consequences to bad behavior. It's easy to look at this approach and be convinced that it won't work. But as I read and reread these chapters, a voice deep in me sang out "Yes!" As a parent, I want so much for my son to know he is loved deeply and purely. I desire for him to feel confident in who he is as well as strong and wise in the decisions he must face in his life. I do not want him to be afraid to try things and make mistakes along the way. I want that so much that I am willing to challenge myself to truly try the Nurtured Heart Approach. To not give up on it and believe that it will yield wonderful results not only in my son, but in our family. I hope you will give it a try too!
Glasser's title for chapter six is "The New Time Out." Here is what he has to say about this crucial part of the Nurtured Heart Approach:
Adults and children have come to see rule breaking as a terrible thing that must be avoided at all costs. Warnings, lectures and other kinds of intense connections often surface around trying to prevent children from breaking the rules. But focusing on trying to prevent rule breaking contributes more energy toward negative behaviors. When adults stop thinking in terms of preventing rule breaking - when they step aside and allow children to experience what really happens when they break a rule, the children have an inescapably clear first hand experience that helps them cement their understanding of the benefits they need for following them. Children know perfectly well that if they really want to break a rule, there's not much anyone can do to stop them. Admonishments and threats put more fuel on the fire we are trying to extinguish. Keep in mind that breaking rules is a part of learning the world. Just remember not to look the other way when a consequence is needed.
The purpose of consequences in the Nurtured Heart Approach is to maintain the default to positivity. We don't use warnings or lectures, but a simple, brief and immediate consequence for a rule broken. Our culture has come to believe that a consequence has to be drastic in order to work, or it won't be effective in changing the child's ways. There is some logic to this, and it works to keep most children in line to some extent. But the level of punishment or severity of a consequence is not what makes it powerful. A longer, stronger, louder or more frightening consequence is not the thing that will awaken the child to the error of his ways and drive him never to do that deed again. Here's what brings the child to a place where he does not want to break the rules: an awakening to his successfulness and greatness. Why bother breaking the rules when rule-breaking only gets in the wa of the fun of being in the game of life?
The real truth is that time-out is an illusion; it's about the child perceiving that a result has taken place. The power of the consequence lies in creating a momentary interruption in the occurrence of the problem. And the purpose of the interruption is to allow the parent to jump to the next available moment of success - where inner wealth can be further expanded. Under the Nurtured Heart Approach, I (Glasser) recommend using only a brief, clean time-out. By "clean" I mean with absolutely no fanfare - the simplest of instructions given with no energy or emotion. Keep time outs short! They can last anywhere from two seconds to a minute..(Yes! That is what he says and he repeats it again.) If time in is insignificant, this kind of time-out will have no effect whatsoever! If time-in is sufficiently strong, this kind of brief time-out can move mountains. As soon as the child completes the time-out, take immediate advantage of the opportunity to point out more success. Clear, clean limits and consequences are a gift that brings simplicity to a child. Simplicity is yet one more gift of greatness, as is the greatness of closure: that there is always a result of a violation or a mistake, but it has an end...and on the other side is yet more success - often, greater levels of success than ever before. The "kiss" of forgiveness that is inherent in being welcomed back into the game by way of these further successes is perhaps the greatest gift of all. This kind of forgiveness lends sweetness to the heart, opening it to new beginnings.
Glasser goes on to talk about how warnings and lectures really do not work. He talks about how to handle a child who refuses the time-out. He gives a whole list of Dos and Don'ts when using time-out. He gives examples for right ways to use time-out and wrong ways. Glasser also devotes a whole chapter to problems and solutions. I hope you'll read this for yourself. It's great stuff!
I really can't say enough about this book. I am going to get his first book; Transforming the Difficult Child" just to read more about the Nurtured Heart Approach. If this Approach does work, I can see a new generation of young people growing up with a heart full of love, compassion and forgiveness for themselves, their family and the world. What an incredible generation that would be!!!
Thank you to Howard Glasser for being brave enough to travel on this road and to share it with us. Most of what I wrote in these blogs are his words. I take no credit for them. And thank you for joining me on this journey. I hope to hear your thoughts. Write anytime! Blessings to you always!