Mom teaches program to reach troubled kids

“Children learn very early on that parents (pay attention to them) when there’s a problem,” Julie Katz told a small group of adults at the Sahara West Library.

She was there to guide them in how to deal with misbehavior that is a constant issue.

Katz, a Summerlin resident, is a certified Nurtured Heart Approach trainer and coach who works with schools, foster parents, anti-bullying agencies, social workers, psychiatrists, school counselors and parents of intense children to help turn around children’s behaviors.

She held the library sessions throughout 2013. She plans to host an introductory talk at 7:30 p.m. Jan 12 at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, 10834 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 200. To reserve a spot, call 702-461-0749.

Katz said it was her 7-year-old son — whom she asked not be identified — who led her to try program after program until she learned of the Nurtured Heart Approach last summer. She read the book, “Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach,” and put its method to the test.

“The approach worked almost instantly, and over the next few months, I worked with a certified Nurtured Heart trainer from Texas, who guided me in using the tools to help me in energizing the positive and building ‘inner wealth’ of my son while watching his negative behaviors decrease significantly,” Katz said. “It’s truly life-saving. I mean, not to throw my child under the bus, but we were in a really bad situation. … We had to hit rock bottom in order to find this approach. I put this kid through everything. I spent the $15,000 (on other methods) when all it took was a $20 book to get my house quiet, so, shame on me.”

The Nurtured Heart Approach cuts short bad behavior and promotes good behavior — any good behavior. The method has even worked for parents whose children exhibit out-of-control behaviors and are disruptive. Katz referred to them as “intense” children.

“Intense children get a charge from seeing their parent’s reactions,” she said. “They’re going for the emotional response.”

The parents have to take away that emotional response if they want to reprogram the child’s behavior, she said.

De-energizing a child involves three components: refusing to give energy to negative behavior; relentlessly energizing the child for successes; and making the rules clear with the enforcement strict. Other tidbits:

When behavior calls for a timeout, the parent should remain unemotional and turn his back on the child. After the time limit, the child is welcomed back. Timeouts should be followed with praise about anything good, such as “I noticed you were quiet during timeout. That’s good” or “You didn’t kick the chair. That’s appreciated.”

Katz used the example of Sea World’s Shamu learning to jump over a rope. The trainers start by placing the rope on the floor of the aquarium so he can’t help but succeed. It’s the same for intense children, she said. Setting the “rope” low allows them to feel success and get the attention they crave.

Attendees at the last session at the Sahara West Library, 9600 W. Sahara Ave., ran the gamut from parents to educators.

“It’s almost like they’re addicts, like they get that charge,” said Susan Graham, a preschool teacher at Kids Campus Learning Center.

A man who asked not to be identified said he’d purchased the book and had been using the tactics for a few weeks.

“He used to push our buttons 24 times a day,” he said of his preschool-age son. “Now it’s down to two.”

“It works immediately. It’s just the parents who have to (keep up with it),” Katz said of the program.

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