Following the Nurtured Heart Approach, playing bass (a little)

Here’s a brief update, in case anyone is curious what’s happening in the SuzukiDad household. We let M quit playing the guitar about a year ago. We had plenty of misgivings, but we couldn’t handle the amount of conflict it generated.

We continued to have a lot of conflict over everyday life, though—truly unpleasant, scary levels of conflict, with M regularly throwing things, hitting us, and destroying things. We felt stuck. We read more parenting books and decided to seek professional help. But we weren’t sure exactly what kind of help to get.

Then we stumbled across a book by Howard Glasser called Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach. And it has been a revelation. Almost immediately when we started adopting some techniques from the book—giving no energy to negative behavior, and describing objectively whatever we saw that was going right in a particular moment—M’s behavior, and our relationship with M, was transformed. Through Glasser’s website, we located a parent coach who had been trained in the approach, and we hired her for consultation and coaching. The results were fantastic.

M is still a high-energy, high-spirited kid, but I feel—really for the first time—that we have found a way to interact with her that really works.

Admittedly, we’ve lowered our expectations. As far as music goes, she is now playing the electric bass (a Kala Ubass), and she has to practice with me for only 15 minutes a day. But she does it, and lately she does it with virtually no conflict.

I wish I had known about the Nurtured Heart Approach years ago. It lines up perfectly with the Suzuki philosophy, and if I had followed the approach when we were practicing Suzuki guitar together, perhaps she’d still be playing today. I still hold out hope that she’ll start back up on the guitar at some point, but it’s a very slim hope.

But regrets don’t get you anywhere. And a core element of the Nurtured Heart Approach is to focus on what’s going right in the present moment, not what’s gone wrong in the past or might go wrong in the future. And in most of our present moments today, things are going pretty right—certainly a lot righter than in the past. If anyone’s out there: check out the Nurtured Heart Approach. It could make a difference in your life.

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