A review of the nurtured heart approach to parenting: evaluation of its theoretical and empirical foundations

Fam Process. 2013 Sep;52(3):425-39. doi: 10.1111/famp.12030. Epub 2013 Apr 8.


The Nurtured Heart Approach to parenting (NHA; Glasser & Easley, 2008) is summarized and evaluated in terms of its alignment with current theoretical perspectives and empirical evidence in family studies and developmental science. Originally conceived and promoted as a behavior management approach for parents of difficult children (i.e., with behavior disorders), NHA is increasingly offered as a valuable strategy for parents of any children, despite a lack of published empirical support. Parents using NHA are trained to minimize attention to undesired behaviors, provide positive attention and praise for compliance with rules, help children be successful by scaffolding and shaping desired behavior, and establish a set of clear rules and consequences. Many elements of the approach have strong support in the theoretical and empirical literature; however, some of the assumptions are more questionable, such as that negative child behavior can always be attributed to unintentional positive reinforcement by parents responding with negative attention. On balance, NHA appears to promote effective and validated parenting practices, but its effectiveness now needs to be tested empirically.

Keywords: Child Behavior Management; Parent Training; Parent-Child Interaction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / therapy*
  • Communication
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy
  • Education, Nonprofessional / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome