Pushing All the Right Buttons


Heart Button Research

Become familiar with the three key emotional drivers for WIC clients.


Reinvention is inventing a different and better life for oneself and one’s family, whether by achieving greater financial security, educational degrees that lead to better jobs, more positive behaviors, or more opportunities for children.

Many families today feel trapped by “dead end” jobs, academic failures, overwhelming responsibilities, and dysfunctional families. These stresses can actually be the triggers that motivate clients to make significant improvements in their lives.

Speak the Language of Reinvention.

In counseling, consider using the following words and phrases to help put clients in a Reinvention mindset:

  • Fresh start
  • Breaking old habits
  • A better life
  • Forming new habits
  • A new you
  • Setting new goals
  • New attitude
  • Reassessing your situation
  • Escaping the past
  • Embracing the future
  • Switching priorities
  • Being who you want to be

Real Moms Speak the Language of Reinvention.

“My first child changed my entire life. To me, she saved me. I was on drugs. Bad, bad times and when I found out I was pregnant, it totally changed everything in my life. Everything turned out better.”

“I don’t want my kids to relive my life. For my child to have a different childhood than I did, I’ve got to change something.”

“I learned how to actually be there for family. You don’t have to be out drinking and having fun. You can just start a whole new life and make it better. Not just for you, but for your kids.”

“I want my children to not follow in my footsteps. I want them to go to college before they start a family.”

Family Values

Family Values are the set of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors transmitted — generally from parent to child — that help establish a foundation and roadmap for the child’s future growth and character development.

In a comfortable, supportive family environment, children are better able to learn what’s important for a satisfying life and develop their character accordingly. They experience firsthand the guiding force of a loving parent, discover what it means to be mentored, and build happy memories of family life.

Speak the Language of Family Values.

In counseling, consider using the following words and phrases to help put clients in a Family Values mindset:

  • Having fun
  • Talking about the child’s day
  • Togetherness
  • Making memories together
  • Sharing
  • Sitting down at meals together
  • Quality time
  • Playing cards and board games
  • Creative activities
  • Finding common ground
  • Putting family first
  • Storytelling

Real Moms Speak the Language of Family Values.

“Family time is really important. I believe in sitting at a table and eating as opposed to kids and family all over the place, one here, one there, TVs on in every room. I don’t condone that. I don’t like it. You’re teaching them a number of different things–how to behave, how to sit, how to communicate with your family and your immediate social circle. That’s where you learn everything.”

“We live in a crazy society and a lot of things are going on. A lot of things even between people– and that’s horrible. You have got to teach your kids. And then just spend time with your kids. Like I do, no matter how late I work or whatever, I wake up in the morning and I give them hugs, I play with them, I make sure I’m involved in whatever they are involved in. And I educate them. I teach them, ‘don’t do this, don’t do that, do it this way, the right way.’”

“My mom and dad were always working so I didn’t get to have both of them at the same time. We try to have dinner together every night because I want him to have at least some memories of both of us with him.”


Nurture is the unselfish practice of giving care, support, comfort, and encouragement to someone else, frequently reflected in a mother’s desire to be the child’s hero by putting the child’s needs first.

Nurturing is not only about providing the essentials of food, clothing, and shelter. It also involves meeting the child’s mental, emotional, and spiritual needs in order to help them achieve their full potential as successful, well-adjusted adults.

Speak the Language of Nurture.

In counseling, consider using the following words and phrases to help put clients in a Nurturing mindset:

  • Listening
  • Providing a secure environment
  • Understanding
  • Modeling behaviors
  • Sacrificing
  • Being there (for someone)
  • Pointing out strengths
  • Treating children with respect
  • Supporting
  • Giving children space (to grow)
  • Calming
  • Making ends meet

Real Moms Speak the Language of Nurture.

“I want to teach my son to be a better judge of character than me. I don’t think I was a good judge of character. I made friends with a lot of people that ended up being bad influence or not good friends. If I had surrounded myself with better people, I would have stayed in school and made a bunch of better choices.”

“I like to see them happy. They’re happy when they learn something. I like to see the excitement when they are learning something new.”

“We stress it very hard that we pray over everything. And we go to church two days a week and that is just part of who we are. That is how we were raised.”

“My mom didn’t give me the guidance that was necessary for me to actually be successful. There’s a major difference between somebody that actually basically cares for you and your well-being versus somebody that’s just drilling information in your head and expects you to catch on and do the right thing instead of helping you through it.”

Focus on the emotional drivers of expectant mothers and mothers with young children.

Research conducted over several years with WIC clients in two locations determined how to implement Heart Button counseling effectively.

Objectives: Primary objective was to determine which Heart Buttons would be most effective in driving behavior change among clients.

Methodology: A series of 15 focus groups were conducted with Chickasaw Nation and Texas WIC. Each session lasted approximately two hours and included five to six WIC clients. Sessions were segmented by pregnancy status and age of children. Projective techniques (questions with no single, “right” answer) were used to uncover key Heart Buttons.

Results: Three interrelated Heart Buttons registered above all others in importance: reinvention, family values, and nurture. Further information on each of these drivers, and an in-depth look at the focus groups, are available by pushing the appropriate buttons at the top.

Conclusion: Clients possess several powerful Heart Buttons that we can rely on to trigger behavior change.

"It makes me a better mom by hearing what others have to say and knowing that I’m not alone."

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