In our last blog, we talked about some of the struggles that parents face when their child is dealing with behavioral issues like ADHD or Oppositional Defiance Disorder or something similar. At The Compass For Life, we have designed a parental aspect to the Nurtured Heart Approach. With this approach, we can help equip you with the tools that you will need to help your child.

Who needs it?

Parents are always trying to do what is best for their children, but when you’re struggling to raise your challenging child, you may become frustrated and not know what to do. Sometimes the techniques that you have been using backfire, parents and children can have power struggles and arguments, and everyday life is a challange. It is ok to ask for help. With NHA, we can help.

How can it help?

All your child wants is your attention and when they don’t get it, they act out. We have learned that constantly correcting your child’s bad behavior can only result in negative attitudes. With the NHA, we empower parents to shift this paradigm so...


Sometimes working with a child who suffers from Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder or any other behavioral problems can be difficult. You can scream and fight with them until you are blue in the face but that will not solve anything. The most important thing that you can do for your child is to work with them and understand what they are trying to accomplish. But how do you do this?


It is important to research the disorder that your child has so that you can understand him/her. Understanding the challenges your child is facing everyday can be very helpful. You can even talk with other parents who have dealt with the same issues that you are. Getting advice from other parents may be a great start to communicating with your child.


Sometimes working with your child rather than against them can be helpful. Come up with a system that works for your family. Maybe that system is a reward/punishment system where if they do something that you have asked, they get a reward...


In 2013 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in nine kids had been diagnosed with ADHD. The report also said that about 15% high-school-age children had an ADHD diagnosis and 3.5 million children were taking medication for it. The New York Times reports that the reason for this is because of pharmaceutical companies campaigning to push drugs to doctors. True, this could be a huge contribution but there could be other reasons for this.


Sometimes a doctor could see symptoms that look like ADHD and are quick to diagnose. Some research has shown that up to 75% of children that have been diagnosed with ADHD are a result of a false/positive. When a patient comes in to see a doctor, the doctors have a sort of checklist that they cover to see what disorder the child has. Sometimes the symptoms of ADHD better relates to something else that the doctor has not considered.

Learning Disabilities

When children are having issues...


ADHD has come a long way since it was first recognized as a mental disorder in the 1960’s. Originally called Hyperkinetic Impulse Disorder, doctors began to realize that children who were affected by this disorder where the ones that were having a hard time staying focused in school. By 1980, the disorder name was changed to Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) because doctors realized that the hyperactivity aspect was not all that common. So there were two types of ADD; one with hyperactivity and one without.

In 1987, a new version of the psychiatric manual, called DSM for short, released its third edition, DSM-III. In this edition, the APA divided the disorder into three categories: inattentive, impulsive and combined. By 2000, the APA settled on the diagnosis that is still used today which is combined type ADHD, predominantly inattentive ADHD and predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type ADHD.

Although ADHD in children has been recognized for more than 45 years, doctors didn’t start diagnosing it frequently until the 1990’s. This is because of a lot of reasons including...


According to the Centers for Disease Control, diagnoses in children of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder increased an astonishing 42 percent between 2003-2011. This was a boom for pharmaceutical companies, and they have seen production and sales of ADHD medications skyrocket.

If you’re a parent of a child with ADHD, you may feel uncomfortable with medication, and opt for more holistic treatments such as counseling services. Counseling is highly beneficial, but here are 5 other natural remedies for improving symptoms.

  • Foods without preservatives and food coloring-According to the Mayo Clinic, some food coloring agents, and preservatives can boost hyperactivity. Try to avoid sodium benzoate, FD&C Yellow No. 6, D&C Yellow No. 10, FD&C Yellow No. 5 and FD&C Red No. 40.
  • Avoid allergens-Some diets that restrict allergens can improve behavior with children that have ADHD. Check with an allergist, but you can experiment by avoiding eggs, chocolate, and foods containing salicylates, such as berries, apples, and peaches.
  • EEG...

When we have children, there are expectations that society has for us, and for them. They should be outgoing, yet well-behaved. They should do well in school, yet focus on sports. They should sign up for SAT courses, ace the SAT, get accepted to an excellent school, and stride into adulthood flush with confidence. But college isn’t always the best option for everyone. What if your child wants to head in a different direction?

Family therapy can help everyone consider alternatives, and also consider this. Some statistics will tell you that college graduates will gain greater job security and higher earning power. But here are a few other statistics you might not be aware of.

  1. Of the 30 most popular professions, most will require some form of post-high school education, but not a full four-year (or more) degree. Trade schools, community colleges and certificate programs all provide the means to learn in-demand skills for a much smaller financial investment.
  2. Entrepreneurs take a massive risk, but over 22 million people in America have tried to start their own...

Restoration or Retaliation: What Side are You On?

Our culture is so hyper focused on punishment, the crime, judgment and retaliation. Sure Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson need to be held accountable for their actions. But what are they learning from the punishments they have been given? What do their children, wives, and families need to heal? I can’t image how Rice’s wife feels knowing the whole world has seen her knocked out by her the fiancé. What about Peterson’s son who was whipped? Is society’s reaction and involvement in “protecting” him actually helping, or is it re traumatizing him every time he or someone he knows sees the pictures of his injuries.

I believe the question WE need to STOP asking is “What type of punishment needs to be dished out?” Rather, “What can Peterson and Rice do to have their dignity restored while helping their families eal?”

No amount of punishment is going to heal these families or relationships. Peterson’s boy is always going to need his father. He is much better off if Peterson can...


Welcome to Dan’s new newsletter and website at Become part of a society where all children flourish. Treat yourself to an infusion of useful teaching and parenting tips. Join a growing movement of parents and educators experiencing happiness and success with their children. Share your stories and successes with the community and PASS IT ON!

What is your New Year’s Resolution? To loose weight? Work out? Budget your money more wisely? Stop smoking? How many New Year’s Resolutions have you made, kept and achieved? Have you stopped making resolutions because you never follow through? If you answered yes to any of these you are the norm.

I had a conversation with a family member today who said his New Year’s Resolution is to retire in June. This is the third year in a row he has said this. He wants to retire, he wants to travel, he wants to move to the next phase of his life and has plenty of money to do so….so whats the problem?

The problem is he has no...


There has been a lot of news about bullying lately. Stories of children being bullied at school, on the football field or through social media streams, has led to many discussions on what we as the adults can do to create a safer environment for our children. One of the biggest concerns our children face, that we did not have to deal with, is that the bully has 24/7 access to their targets because of social media. This has led to many passionate conversations and suggestions on what we should be doing to create a safer environment for our children. It has also led to the development and introduction of several antibullying programs in schools. But did you know that for an antibullying program to be successful, it has less to do with the program and more to do with you? The number one indicator that determines whether or not an antibullying program will be successful is the climate, culture and relationships between the adults.

I recently read a book called, “Why Antibullying Programs Don’t Work” by Twemlow and Sacco. In a nutshell, they were asked to find the best...


New Data Suggests that ADHD is Misdiagnosed 75% of the Time!

I attended a workshop a few weeks ago on the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders). This book is used by mental health practitioners to diagnosis mental health disorders in children and adults. It contains research, data, treatment options and lists of symptoms to help assess a diagnosis.

This book has gone through several revisions over the years and strives to be as accurate as possible with the research and testing that is available. This latest version, DSM 5, has been in development since 1999 with a task force of experts from around the world contributing to its contents.

There are many significant changes, especially related to children….but the information that immediately grabbed my attention was this statistic: In their research groups, 75% of people who have been given the diagnosis of ADHD have a false positive diagnosis. What this means is many of these people have symptoms that look like ADHD, leading to the diagnosis, but actually do not...


Most of us have confronted our children when they are acting out. We give our most passionate speeches, lectures, warnings and words of wisdom during these moments. The passion and energy generally comes from a desire to see our children succeed and the emotional angst we feel when they are disobeying or making poor choices. However, how do you feel about yourself, your child and your relationship during and after these exchanges? Personally, I feel discouraged, upset, angry, and frustrated. I love my kids and hate to see them make poor choices. If you can relate, I have an idea that is working well for many parents and teachers who are trying it.

Have you ever considered “confronting” your child with the same intensity and passion when they are acting out their qualities of greatness? If not, now is the time. Accuse them of being responsible by getting up on time. Confront them with evidence of their self-control when they don’t retaliate after a sibling provokes them. See the effort it takes to go to school every day and complete their school work. Save your...


Success in College begins with a Nurtured Heart™ – Part II: Seven Weeks Later

By Dr. Lisa Sharpe

Chair, Institute of Art & Design

Robert Morris University

This fall, I taught a group of college freshmen which included three 18-year-old males who were uncontrollable, shouting expletives, surfing pornographic Youtube sites in my classroom, and preventing others from learning. By applying the Nurtured Heart principles I learned from Dan, these young men began to see me as their ally rather than just another authority figure bent on dominating them. In just seven short weeks, their transformation has begun to take shape.

“Now I know what good teaching is,” one of the formerly out-of-control students said to me. “You know, I think I want to be a teacher.” “Me too!” chimed the young man next to him. “I want to be a teacher. How do we do that?”

I spent several minutes with my students going over the process of obtaining a teaching certificate and endorsements. They listened with rapt attention and began researching – because, of...


Hello, I’m April, a social worker in a suburban high school. I first encountered the Nurtured Heart Approach through a staff meeting at which Dan presented, and later at a large Institute Day. This approach impressed me, especially when Dan emphasized that the NHA had revolutionized his entire approach to working with both children and adults. I liked the focus on a strengths-based approach rather than delving into a person’s negative emotional baggage from the past.

Shortly after my first encounter with Dan, three of our district staff went to be trained in the NHA so the approach could be piloted in our schools. Some were skeptical at first. However, when they came back, their first comments were about how well the NHA worked in their homes with their own children!

At the high school level, rules, punishment, and consequences have been the norm for decades. Because of this, some staff can be resistant – initially – to the concepts presented by the NHA because they believe these techniques are only suitable for elementary students, not for teenagers. However, based...


By Dr. Lisa Sharpe, Guest Blogger

Professor and Chair, Graphic Design, Robert Morris University

As a university professor, I am in a unique position to see the results of 18 years of schooling and parenting. As teens enter young adulthood, the training they received both at home and at school becomes obvious when they enter their freshman year of college. Living away from home and surrounded by peers, the transition to college requires emotional resilience, discipline, and self-control.

In my classroom, there is typically a 50-50 split between students who are emotionally prepared to succeed in college and those who are not. Behavior issues, ADHD, and distractions like Facebook, cell phones, and Youtube are a national issue for colleges and universities, and the problem becomes worse each year. Ten years ago, when I walked into a room to lecture, students were waiting more or less attentively. Here is my reality in 2012:

This fall, I walked into my first freshman class of the year, and announced the start of class in a reasonable tone of voice. No one...


Part II of a series

For Both Parents and Teachers:

The roles of parents and teachers many times overlap. Both are encouragers and educators, comforters and counselors, and of course, disciplinarians. It is critically important however, that both parents and teachers handle their child’s behavior in a way that encourages growth and self-worth rather than shame.

Most parents and teachers are well-versed in common discipline and classroom management techniques based on punishment – time-outs, removal of privileges, and more drastic measures like corporal punishment, suspensions, detention, and so forth. This approach falls into the broad category of what is termed “retributive justice”, which mandates appropriate punishment for an offense. Retributive justice permeates our culture; up to and including our treatment of both juvenile and adult offenders within the prison system.

The Nurtured Heart Approach follows a different model – that of restorative justice. Restorative justice helps both offender and victim re-integrate into the community through acts of...


According to the National Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2009 Report:

  • During the 2007-08 school year, 25% of public schools reported that bullying occurred among students on a daily or weekly basis.
  • In 2007, 32% of students ages 12-18 reported having been bullied at school during the school year.
  • Of the students who had been bullied, 63% said that they had been bullied once or twice during the school year, 21% had experienced bullying once or twice a month,

    10% reported being bullied once or twice a week,

    and 7% said that they had been bullied almost daily.

The typical school solution is very often an “anti-bullying” program, and punishment for the bully. In my work with schools, I seek to empower administrators, teachers, and parents with the tools and awareness they need to create an all-encompassing culture change that makes bullying the exception, not the norm.

The Nurtured Heart Approach offers deeper insights into the very nature of bullying. The typical child who bullies has often been the victim of bullying...


How can we as parents and teachers create relationships with children that weather the teenage years with grace?

Parents and teachers, if you have not already watched this video, please do. With over 30 million views (and counting) on YouTube, this video of an angry father, Tommy Jordan, has generated thousands of comments about a hot-button issue – parenting in the age of social media.

In the video, Mr. Jordan reads a letter his daughter put on Facebook, titled “To My Parents,” which she blocked from family, but allowed all friends to see. However, her father inadvertently discovered the video, and created his own response, which culminated in his destruction of her laptop with a 45-caliber handgun.

Bloggers, news outlets, and even Dr. Phil have commented on the video, and there has been much discussion of his parenting. The majority of the responses are highly polarized; either sharp criticism or accolades.

There are indeed lessons we can take away from the controversy created by this video. Disciplining disrespectful teenagers has been...


Teachers: Three Quick Tips to Energize Your Classroom Today

1. Fearlessly Positive

Before your students arrive, think specifically about the character trait you value most in yourself (kindness, diligence, hard work, teamwork, and so forth). Make it a point to draw your attention to those qualities when they are demonstrated by your students. Get excited about it! Strive to give your energy and voice to those traits, and enjoy your students when they are displaying them. Refuse to let problems in the class distract you.

2. Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Rather than resetting your students, only talk about resets when they reset themselves. For example, if a student is talking without permission, don’t reset them.Wait until they stop – then recognize them for resetting themselves without needing you to point it out. Try this for a day. If you are feeling really fearless, try it for the whole week!

3. Secret Agent

Get your students involved in noticing when things go right. At the beginning of the school day, confidentially...


1. I have tried many different parenting approaches, with little success. How is the Nurtured Heart Approach different?

The Nurtured Heart Approach functions on the understanding that intense and challenging children act out because they crave the energy we emit when we respond to their outbursts. As parents, we do the best we can with the tools we have at our disposal. When our children misbehave, we become more animated, our voices rise, and we become more intensely involved. When this scenario repeatedly plays itself out, children form the impression that in order to get relationship and connection from the important adults in their lives, they must act out.

The Nurtured Heart Approach emphasizes super-energizing time-IN using a few simple techniques. The relationship is the prize for the child, so providing continual emotional nutrition, in concert with clear consequences and boundaries elicits profound results.

2. Why should I praise my child for doing what is expected?

While reading the book many parents ask this question. One of the main ideas of...


Many parents ask this question. One of the main ideas of the approach is to create successes that might not otherwise exist. When we actively create these moments of success, we open the door for our difficult child and begin to challenge the negative portfolio that is filled with failure and disappointment. By lowering the rope, like Shamu’s trainers, we create successes that might not otherwise exist and we begin the change the context through which we interact with our child.

Doesn’t all that praise get old and “wear off” after a while?

On the contrary. When done in a way that is authentic, difficult children begin to experience, sometimes for the first time in their lives, what it feels like to be successful. They have a physiological response to this specific, heartfelt praise. When they feel it in their bones, the awakening happens. For the first time, they get to be the hero of the story- and they find it feels pretty good.