Book Review: Transforming the Difficult Child - Stories of Triumph

Cover: True Stories of Triumph
Cover image courtesy of Howard Glasser

The Bottom Line

By Jennifer Easley and Howard Glasser; 244 pages. From the back cover: "We hope these 'Nurtured Heart' success stories move you -- stir your excitement, bring you great joy, and inspire you to either transform your own difficult child or greatly appreciate what you have already achieved with the Nurtured Heart Approach.

I'm a big fan of the Nurtured Heart Approach, as outlined in the authors' book Transforming the Difficult Child. You'd have to be to get much out of this book.

It's 244 pages of preaching to the choir, but if you're looking for inspiration, you may find it here.


  • Gives many examples of the Nurtured Heart Approach in action
  • Includes stories of use of the approach in school as well as home
  • Shows how the approach applies to working with adults, as well
  • Relentlessly upbeat and optimistic
  • May give you the encouragement you need to try the approach or keep at it


  • There may be such a thing as too relentlessly upbeat and optimistic, at least for a book
  • Feels more like a support group session, full of cheerful encouragement, than a reading experience
  • Assumes a knowledge of the approach and its terms
  • Many of the stories make the approach seem like some sort of magic wand
  • Perhaps better suited to the use of therapists than parents


  • Section I: The First Stand: Energizing Success and Greatness
  • Section II: The Second Stand: Refusing to Energize Negativity
  • Section III: The Perfect Consequences
  • Section IV: Expanding the Healing Vision

Guide Review - Book Review: Transforming the Difficult Child - True Stories of Triumph

Everybody has their preferences in parenting books. Some readers undoubtedly like case studies, seeing the advice being given by the author played out in the lives of families like theirs.

I'm not one of those readers. Case studies, more often than not, make it look too easy, and often make the approach being touted seem like a magic wand to suddenly solve hopeless situations. Just give me the advice, and let me create my own story.

That makes Transforming the Difficult Child: True Stories of Triumph a hard sell for me, because it's nothing but case studies. Many of them are so short that the Nurtured Heart Approach seems unrealistically effective. You won't learn the approach from this book; it's clearly a cheerleading session for the already converted, with Glasser and Easley popping up after each story to give the participants lots of that good positive recognition.

I was feeling pretty annoyed with the book early on, but then something interesting happened: It made me remember how well the approach worked with my son, and realize how far I'd fallen from doing it consistently. It made me try some of the techniques again, and you know, there really is a degree of "magic wand" to them.

We've had some good days and good conversations while I've been reading the book.

If you're familiar with the approach and need your own batteries recharged, this may be the book to do it. If you're new to it, you may feel at sea. I wish the authors had saved some of that space from their after-story praise-giving and used it to create a short primer on the approach to explain to the uninitiated or rusty-brained in somewhat more detail what the people in the stories are doing. Without that, unless you're just due for a tune-up, you're really better off with the original.

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