Love to Nurture is a parenting philosophy developed by a group of behavioral psychologists, together with Hope & Home Executive Director, Ross Wright, over 20 years ago.
Watch an overview of the Love to Nurture parenting philosophy below.
“Love to Nurture” is an innovative, relationship-based parenting philosophy. Whether parenting toddlers and/or teens from birth, adoption or foster care, utilizing the building blocks of Love to Nurture is revolutionary to strengthening the parent/child relationship and working with trauma-informed behavior.
While this philosophy was initially designed to work with children who have landed in foster care or institutions, Love to Nurture has proven to be effective in all parenting scenarios and even applies to friendships, the workplace, marriage, and beyond.
Love to Nurture Parenting Overview
While you can read more about the Love to Nurture Parenting philosophy in Ross Wright’s book, Kids In Crisis, let’s briefly review the four basic principles of Love To Nurture.
Love to Nurture Parenting Step 1: Relationship! Relationship! Relationship!
If you don’t have relationships with people, you can’t accomplish anything.
Kids need to feel emotionally and physically safe and they need to trust that those around them are invested in their success, especially parents or guardians. So instead of working against kids, we need to be working with them to promote a healthy, thriving lifestyle.
The first step towards successful parenting is to form a relationship.
Show them that you love and care about them and that their success is your top priority. Team up with them to learn who they are, where they want to go, and what they want to accomplish.
“It is the interplay between rules and relationship that creates a family!”
In today’s parenting culture, we are starting to hear more and more about the importance of accountability and correction of behaviors. While those things are important, they must be secondary to forming the relationship.
As Wright often says, “Punishing trauma is like pouring gasoline on fire to put it out.” Most behaviors encountered in foster children, or children facing unique challenges, are actually past traumas manifesting themselves in the form of “defiance” or negative behavior.
After the relationship is formed and established, then and only then, can you begin working on the accountability piece.
One thing that we know is this:
Rules Without Relationship = Rebellion
Relationship without rules = Chaos
It is important to remember that people of all ages resist change. It is critical that we work with kids to facilitate change instead of trying to force it upon them.
All of that to say…slow down! Form a relationship first.
Love To Nurture Parenting Step 2: Teleology
The word Teleology is of Greek origin and to understand it, you can break it down into two parts:
Telos = The End
Ology = The Study of
Therefore, teleology is the study of the end or the art of becoming.
It is impossible to analyze anything or anyone without knowing where they’re going. Imagine if a complete stranger walked up to you and asked how to get “home”.
In response, you pointed west, and instructed them to walk until the next intersection, hang a right, then a left, then two more rights. at which point they will arrive “home”.
That’s absurd! You have no idea where “home” is without asking where they live. The same concept applies to parenting
You need to figure out where the child is wanting to go in order to help them get there. Additionally, it can only strengthen the relationship to connect with the child, discover what makes them tick, and help them uncover their dreams.
Love to Nurture Parenting Step 3: Avenues of Achievement
Help them be successful. Be their champion! This is a critical step.
So many kids, especially foster kids, feel defeated and like they have failed over and over and over. On the outside, their attitude can look very resistant, indifferent, and sometimes even hostile towards goal-setting.
Sadly, this is indicative of a behavior called “learned helplessness”. We have to help kids get beyond this learned helplessness in order for them to be successful.
We need to create an avenue for them to work towards something, see proof of their progress, and feel celebrated along the way. This will enable them to break through their learned helplessness to continue growing and moving forward.
Now, I want to caution you against something that is easy to do. Don’t become the child’s critic. Become their coach.
There is a crucial difference. Critics draw attention to negatives. Coaches draw attention to positives on which to build. This is what Love to Nurture Parenting is all about.
Love to Nurture Parenting Step 4: Rewards
We all need to encounter the fruits of our labor. Children are not exempt from this. They need to see and feel the benefits associated with hard work!
Whether it is a point system or small rewards for “littles”, or something more substantial for teens, rewards are powerful and necessary for helping people feel empowered to apply themselves.
While rewards are useful and important, the old adage is also true. “Be very careful about what you are rewarding because you are going to see a lot more of it.”
Make sure that rewards are associated with behavior you want to see more of. To make matters more complicated is the fact that even a negative reaction can be received as a “reward” because of the attention given.
You must really be in tune with your child to detect these nuances and respond proactively.