Joel Hektner, Associate Professor in Human Development and Family Science at North Dakota State University, describes his research study titled A Review of the Nurtured Heart Approach to Parenting, An Evaluation of It’s Theoretical and Empirical Foundations published in the peer review journal Family Process (April 2013).


Joel M. Hektner, Alison L. Brennan, Sean E. Brotherson

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.  (2013)

A Nonrandomized Evaluation of a Brief Nurtured Heart Approach Parent Training Program


Brennan, A.L., Hektner, J.M., Brotherson, S.E. et al

Parent training programs are increasingly being offered to the general public with little formal evaluation of their effects. One such program, the Nurtured Heart Approach to parenting (NHA; Glasser and Easley in Transforming the difficult child: The Nurtured Heart Approach, Vaughan Printing, Nashville, 2008), contains elements with strong theoretical and empirical support, but NHA as a whole remains to be empirically evaluated.


The purpose of the present study was to provide an initial test of the effectiveness of NHA through a quasi-experiment in a community sample.


The present study uses data from 41 five-week NHA parent training courses offered to the general public in a Midwestern U.S. city. Participation in programming occurred through self-selection. An information-only comparison group was recruited from the same community using convenience sampling. Baseline and follow-up questionnaires were completed by trained parents and comparison parents.


Program parents reported gains in well-being, while comparison parents remained relatively stable in well-being scores. Parents trained in NHA increased in providing positive attention to their children and decreased in yelling, scolding, and responding with negativity; comparison group parents demonstrated no changes with regard to these practices. At both baseline and follow-up, parents in the comparison group perceived more strengths in their children than did program parents, but at follow-up the difference had narrowed by half of a standard deviation, indicating progress in changing parent perceptions of children.


Though the present study is limited by weaknesses in study design, the evidence is compelling enough to suggest further investigation and implementation of NHA with parents. (2016)

Family Process Atricle Banner
To subscribe to the article:
Family Process, Vol. x, No. x, 2013 © FPI, Inc.
doi: 10.1111/famp.12030
NDSU Research Poster
Parent training in the Nurtured Heart Approach:
Effects on Parents’ Well-being, Practices, and Perception of Child Strengths
Click Here to Download PDF: NHA Research Poster
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