Love and Logic

How Empathy Helps Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma Inbox

It seems that more and more kids are suffering from the effects of trauma in their lives. Our hearts ache when we hear about children being hurt. A social worker, with over thirty years of experience working for her county’s Child Protective Services, put it well:

“After all these years, it still hits me in the gut. I mean the things these kids go through. I still find myself thinking, this sort of stuff just can’t happen—it can’t be real. No child should have to go through these things.”

Neglect, abuse, and other traumatic experiences can cause kids to live chronically in a fight or flight mode. This can make it very difficult for them to think reasonably when they face challenging situations, such as when a parent or teacher is trying to hold them accountable for their actions.

Over the years of teaching Love and Logic to parents and educators, we have learned that when an adult provides a strong message of sincere empathy before holding a child accountable, they are far more successful. With sincere empathy, the child can stay out of the fight or flight mode and learn from the consequences of their actions. This is especially important when working with a child who has experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect, and who is constantly in a fight or flight mode.

Because we care, we hate the pain kids with trauma have experienced and we yearn to help them heal. This motivation is wonderful. But we must also recognize that feeling sorry for kids isn’t the same thing as loving them and empowering them to heal. They need empathy, not sympathy. Here are some guidelines for helping to understand the difference between sympathy and empathy.

Sympathy
“Feeling sorry for” someone can lead us toward unintentionally sending the unstated message:

“This is so horrible that you’ll never be able to cope and find joy in your life.”

Empathy
“Loving” someone means purposefully sending a very different unstated message:

“I can’t imagine how much this must hurt.”
“I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m here for you. I believe in you.”

When trying to decide if you are acting with sympathy instead of empathy, keep the following questions in mind. Which style, sympathy or empathy, is the most likely to result in the adult eventually feeling burned out and even resentful toward a child? Which style is more likely to result in the child feeling manipulated? Which style is about the adult’s feelings? Which is about the child’s needs?

Working with kids who have been traumatized can be very challenging. Love and Logic can be used to help these kids learn to be responsible and learn from their mistakes. However, professional support counselors, therapists, or psychiatrists might be needed to address the underlying trauma.

Dr. Charles Fay

Showing Appreciation for Teachers

A recent article published in the Journal of the American Educational Research Association reported that teachers across the world feel undervalued and unappreciated. Teacher Appreciation Week is May 6-10 this year, and we encourage parents to show appreciation to teachers for their continued dedication to teaching our kids. This year we will look at some ways that parents can show gratitude to teachers throughout every school year.

The Best Gifts for Teachers
One way we can send a big thanks to educators is by helping our kids view all teachers with great respect. A powerful strategy for achieving this goal involves allowing our kids to overhear us talking positively about their teachers. You’ve probably noticed your children’s eyes glazing over as you’ve tried to lecture them about some essential truth. In contrast, you’ve seen how closely they listen when they see that you’re trying to have a private conversation! Experiment with this:

At least twice a week intentionally let your children overhear you saying something positive about their teachers. Do this for the rest of the school year.

All dedicated educators want to be appreciated for their hard work and long hours. It’s amazing to realize that teachers can take classrooms full of kids with different needs, abilities, behaviors, and troubles and turn them into high-powered learning teams. Teachers deserve to be appreciated for this miracle!

Another gift we can give them involves our own parenting. The most wonderful display of our appreciation is to send them students truly ready to be respectful, responsible, and eager to learn. No doubt this gift also benefits our children, who will rise to the top when equipped with such character attributes. In addition to letting our kids hearing our positive comments about their teachers, here is list of a few additional things you can do to help teachers help your kids succeed:

  • Ensure that they are doing chores without reminders at home, so that they know how to do assignments without reminders at school.
  • Allow very little time with technology, including video games, texting, surfing the web, watching videos, television, etc. These activities make it more difficult for our children to remain calm and content at school.
  • Have family meals together, where you enjoy each other and talk about all the things you’ve learned during the day.

Love and Logic has many resources that can help the teachers of your kids. Our books, curricula, and audios for educators can help them truly manage their classrooms with ease, which will allow them to focus on their passion—teaching and instilling the love of learning in your kids.

Dr. Charles Fay

What’s It Take to Get a Happier and More Respectful Kid?

This big question sits heavily on the hearts of countless parents, and the answers often seem confusing and elusive. After decades of studying research and working with families (as well as being humbled by my own children), I’ve learned many parenting lessons the hard way.

I’d like to share one of these lessons in a story about a rebellious and unhappy son. Ethan and his parents represent thousands of parents who have benefited from Love and Logic over the years.

Ethan’s parents were growing more exhausted by the day. He’d developed a nasty habit of making negative comments about everything they said. Chores were not getting done, homework was suffering, and he complained incessantly about his deplorable living conditions—the Wi-Fi was too slow, his phone was too old, and the parents of his friends were far more understanding and compassionate.

Ethan’s parents were baffled. Being kind and conscientious, they tried even harder to provide a consistently comfortable and love-filled daily experience for Ethan. Fretting, they wondered, “What else can we do? Our son is so unhappy and disrespectful, and even disobedient! What can we do to improve our relationship?”

A friend of many years shared some wisdom with them:

“He’s acting this way because he sees you as weak.
He doesn’t respect you because you don’t expect anything of him.”

Though provided out of love, their friend’s remarks stung. As their pain subsided, mom and dad began to see the truth in it. As a result, they set a strong limit over what they would provide and under what circumstances:

“We are happy to do and provide extra things for you when we feel respected and you are completing your chores.”

As you can imagine, Ethan’s initial reaction was not positive. But as the days passed, Ethan’s parents were surprised to see a happier and more respectful kid. They remarked, “It’s true! Kids do need, and want, the loving leadership of limits.”

Have you seen this story unfold in your life? Have you witnessed a friend who discovered that avoiding conflict with their child was merely creating more of it?

For decades, Love and Logic has focused on helping parents transform kids like Ethan into adults who are responsible, resilient, and respectful.

Dr. Charles Fay

Teenagers and Spring Fever

Spring fever can be life threatening. In general, teenagers face more and more serious, potentially life-threatening decisions than a generation or two ago. These decisions, combined with the vacations and parties that come during springtime, can challenge the most sensible teenagers.

Fortunately, there are some simple, time-tested ways that parents can help their teens make cool decisions as the weather gets warmer. Here are four suggestions based on Love and Logic that can help you.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking teens no longer need their parents.
Because their adolescents are becoming more independent, many parents believe that it’s okay to leave them without supervision for hours on end. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wise parents understand this, and they recognize teens still need a watchful, yet friendly eye.

Set enforceable limits.
Teens need and want limits. However, instead of telling your teens what they should do, experiment with telling them what you will do or what you will allow. For example, instead of commanding your teen to be home on time, try saying, “I share the car keys with those who come home on time.”

Hold them accountable with empathy and logical consequences.
Providing consequences with anger, lectures, and threats will result in defensiveness, creating teens who think, “When I make poor decisions, it makes others really mad. I better not get caught.” If anger is replaced with a genuine dose of empathy or sadness, teens will realize that, “When I make poor decisions it makes my life really sad. For my sake, I’d better make wise ones!”

When you are too angry or worried to think—delay the consequence.
We are human and there are times when teens can throw us completely off balance. When this happens, buy some time by saying, “I’m going to have to do something about this. But not now, later. Try not to worry.” Take some time to calm down, think rationally, and get some ideas from friends.

Thousands of parents have used these principles, which are based on Love and Logic, and found that their parenting has become much easier and more effective.

Dr. Charles Fay

Creating Life-Long Learners

One of my passions is helping kids become life-long learners. Love and Logic believes that a genuine motivation to learn stems from internal curiosity, not from external coercion in the form of lectures or threats.

If we focus on character and the love of learning, academic success will come naturally. The following suggestions are dedicated to creating happier homes, where children are free to fall in love with learning and parents no longer dread homework hassles.

Each evening, set aside a time for family learning.
This is a time for your children to do their homework while you model the value of learning by enjoying a book. The best way to create a love of learning in your kids is to show them how much you enjoy it.

Avoid battles by offering choices.
Research shows that children are more likely to do their homework if they are given many small choices. For example:

"Would you rather do your homework right after school or wait until four o’clock?”
"Are you going to do your homework in your room or at the kitchen table?”

Help only when your child really wants it.
There is nothing that creates more homework battles than parents who “help” when help is not wanted. Your child’s desire to do it alone is a very healthy sign of independence and responsibility. Try asking:

“Would you like some ideas about that, or would you like me to leave you alone?”

Spend most of your time noticing what they do well.
Successful parents spend 99% of their energy noticing what their kids do well. They say things like:

“Show me the very best letter you made today. You really worked hard on that!”
“Look at that math problem. You got it right!”

It is very important to avoid focusing on what your child does wrong! Allow your child to get help in those areas from their teachers.

Help only if it’s enjoyable for both of you.
Too frequently, homework help turns into a homework battle. Smart parents back out of the helper role as soon as they sense conflict brewing. Try hugging your child and saying:

“I love you too much to help if it means we are going to argue. I know this is hard. Good luck.”

Help only if your child is doing most of the work.
There is nothing more destructive than stealing the struggle of learning by doing too much for your child. Say the following to yourself over and over again:

“This is my child’s homework. Not mine!”

Each time they achieve something difficult on their own, their self-esteem soars and they are better prepared for the real world.

This topic is so important to me that I devoted an entire Love and Logic book to helping parents instill the love and learning in their kids.

Dr. Charles Fay

Threats and Warnings

Parents desperately try to control their children’s behaviors by using commands, threats, and warnings. Over the years, I have seen many parents issue repeated threats and warnings, with the inevitable result that their kids simply ignore them and continue misbehaving.

It’s easy and convenient to threaten in the hopes that it will work. Occasionally it works in the short term. However, this is much like playing a slot machine. With an occasional payoff, we are tempted to continue to play the game. Unfortunately, we all know that the slot machine usually wins in the long run. And kids usually learn to ignore hollow threats.

Unfortunately, kids who are conditioned to ignore threats and warnings from their parents as they grow up will eventually lose in the long run. They become conditioned to require more and larger threats in all areas of their lives.

Parents who use warnings and threats soon wonder why their kids ignore their teachers and others in their lives. Kids who ignore the advice of teachers soon fall behind in school. But why should they listen to them or others? They don’t have to listen to their parents.

What a shock it must be for kids who grow up like this to discover that their bosses don’t give a lot of reminders and warnings. How unfair this must feel to young adults. I’ve seen many young adults lose their jobs. They view their employers as totally unfair and complain that they weren’t warned about the impending loss of the job.

Do your kids a favor. Tell them what you expect just once. If they don’t respond or remember, allow a reasonable consequence to follow. When they complain, simply say, with genuine empathy, “Not to worry, I’m sure your listening will get better.” Parents who run their home this way will get many rewards in the future, and their kids will benefit in the long run.

Dr. Charles Fay

Empathy: The Hardest Part

Those who understand Love and Logic know that sincere empathy is the cornerstone upon which the entire house is built. It’s the gift that allows our children to learn wisdom from life’s trials and tribulations, rather than developing discouragement and resentment.

However, many parents who call us find empathy very challenging. Some are exasperated and tell us, “Empathy is the hardest part! Too often my own frustration and anger get in the way.”

Why is empathy so important? Empathy demonstrates love and love provides hope.

Hope provides the motivation our kids need to choose what’s healthy rather than destructive.

For over forty-five years, the Love and Logic message has remained the same:

Hope and pray that your kids make plenty of affordable mistakes when they are young.

Hold them accountable for these mistakes with sincere empathy.

Do this so they can learn when the “price tags” are still small.

Providing empathy requires that we tolerate messiness rather than trying to create a sanitary life for our kids. Empathy is messy but it is necessary for developing the attitudes and skills required for adult success.

Deep in our parental hearts is the wishful dream that our children will enjoy a fairytale life. A life where all issues are resolved cleanly, and they live happily ever after. Ironically, this well-intentioned urge often makes it more challenging for us to provide empathy when our kids need it the most.

Lectures, threats, frustration, and anger provide an illusion of control, a fleeting sense that we’re getting something done.

Empathy requires a strong conviction that we cannot fix others, but that life’s challenges are gifts that build maturity. It is only through empathetic responses can we reach our kids and help them to learn how to handle life’s challenges.

Dr. Charles Fay

Love and Logic’s Basic Principles

Many parents have told us how the principles of Love and Logic have helped them raise children who make good decisions, who are loving and responsible, and who are fun to be around. These principles are based on time-tested psychological concepts that are simple to implement, yet powerfully effective—they are the foundation of Love and Logic’s approach to parenting. Here is an overview of some of these Love and Logic principles.

Mutual Dignity. Love and Logic believes that mutual respect and dignity are critical for teaching children how to treat others. Children learn this by how we treat them, and by how we allow them to treat us. This requires setting limits that allow us to take good care of ourselves and the people around us, including our children.

Shared Control. Power struggles between parents and children are fundamentally about control. When we try to exert control over others, we lose it, but when we share control, we can gain it. Children become happier, more respectful, and stronger when they learn how to handle life’s consequences. They learn this when we allow them to learn how to make responsible decisions through having plenty of small choices and living with the consequences of their choices.

Shared Thinking. Enabling children to think about the consequences of their choices is a lifelong gift. By sharing the thinking process with them, they learn how to think on their own and solve their own problems at an early age.

Sincere Empathy. When we respond to children with anger and frustration, they will respond with defensiveness and defiance. When we respond with empathy, there is a much better chance that we will encourage them to think about their behaviors and consequences. Nothing works without empathy!

Loving Relationships. By following these principles parents will naturally develop a loving and mutually respectful relationship with their children. Kids learn to see their parents as both powerful and loving, and they are much more likely to grow up and become respectful, responsible adults.

By combining these principles from Love and Logic with neuropsychiatric practices for improving brain health from Dr. Daniel Amen, parents can raise children with healthy brains and hearts, children who will grow into responsible, respectful, and resilient adults.

Dr. Charles Fay

When Kids Say, “I’m Stupid.

Few things can tear at our hearts more than hearing our kids say, “I’m stupid.” At first glance the following parent seems to be right on track:

No, you are not stupid! Think of all the things you are good at. How about reading? You’re good at that! And remember how much you improved in baseball last summer. Stupid kids don’t learn how to hit curve balls like you did. And your art is wonderful. If you were dumb, would you have been able to learn how to create those drawings with such wonderful three-dimensional perspectives? I don’t think so!

At second glance, we realize that this well-meaning parent is lending credibility to their child’s remark by spending so much time and energy addressing it.

Listed below are other tactics that have created selfish kids rather than ones with a good sense of self:

  • Constant praise
  • Ensuring that they are always the center of attention
  • Making sure that they never encounter any hardships
  • Buying them everything they want
  • Rescuing them from the consequences of their misbehavior
  • Setting no limits so that they can “express their creativity”

Instead of using these tactics, consider employing a much simpler approach, one that avoids unintentionally reinforcing your youngster’s self-deprecating remarks. The most effective parents smile, pat their child on the back, and give this sweet and simple response:

Aren’t you glad I don’t believe that!

For truly improving self-concept, there’s only one approach that really works in the long term, and it’s based on the age-old truism:

The best way to feel good is to do something good.

When parents place a high emphasis on good and respectful behavior, children look at themselves and think, “I act pretty darn good and responsible. I must be pretty darn good and responsible.”

True self-concept is developed when children encounter struggles, are taught how to overcome those struggles, and see themselves acting in respectful and responsible ways. Stated quite simply, self-concept is an inside job.

Shaping Self-Concept, one of our most popular audios, teaches a very special type of love. It’s the type that allows our kids to struggle, lets them work through their trials, and guides them toward independence instead of insecurity.

Self-concept is also important for empowering your kids to handle teasing and bullying, which is the topic we'll be sharing tips about in next week's free virtual event, When Your Child Is Teased or Bullied.

Reserve your spot for this free event

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

When Your Child Gets Teased

Does teasing end when kids graduate from elementary school? Does it stop when they move on from middle to high school? Will it magically disappear when they become adults? Or is it sadly true that most of us will encounter bullies throughout our lifetimes?

Because we can’t ensure that the world will always be sweet and kind to our kids, common sense tells us that we ought to equip them with skills that allow them to cope with this sometimes less-than-considerate world.

Listed below are some basic principles that can help kids when they encounter teasing or bullying:

  • Teach them that bullies get their power from our negative emotions. The more upset we get when picked on, the more powerful mean kids feel.
  • Show your child how to trick bullies by pretending to be calm. If our children can learn to act calm when bullies hassle them, they become far less attractive targets.
  • Teach your child to confuse or bewilder bullies by responding to verbal taunts with replies like, “Thanks for noticing” or “I appreciate the feedback.”
  • Help your child develop great social skills so that they are liked, accepted, and protected by positive peers. Kids who don’t know how to relate in healthy ways often find themselves gravitating toward peers who treat them poorly.

Using these principles, parents can empower their kids to handle, and overcome, teasing and bullying. Instead of rescuing them, you can walk beside your kids as they move from the role of victim to victor.

Learn more tools and strategies that will empower your kids to handle teasing and bullying by joining Dr. Daniel G. Amen and me for our next FREE Online Event, When Your Child Is Teased or Bullied. Register now for this event, which will be held January 11, 2024.

Reserve your spot for this free event

Dr. Charles Fay

Mentally Strong Kids

Mentally strong children who know how to solve their own problems and who will grow up to be the most competent adults they can be is our goal.

Love and Logic provides a healthy foundation that allows kids to practice solving as many problems as possible early in their lives.

The following process is an example of how Love and Logic can get kids thinking more about their problems than we do.

Step 1: Provide a strong and sincere dose of empathy.

Empathy allows the child to stay calm enough to solve the problem—and learn from it. Experiment with saying something like:

Oh no. This is a problem. I bet that’s really upsetting.

Step 2: Hand the problem back.

After you have proven that you care, ask:

What do you think you might do to solve this problem?

Don’t be shocked if the child mumbles, “I don’t know.”

Step 3: Ask permission to share what “some kids” have tried.

Avoid giving suggestions until you have asked:

Would you like to hear what some other kids have tried?

Step 4: Provide two or three alternatives for solving the problem.

Remember to avoid resistance by saying:

Some kids decide to ________. How would that work for you?

Step 5: Allow the child to solve or not to solve the problem.

Resist the urge to tell the child which alternative to pick. End the session by showing your faith in the child and say:

Good luck! Let me know how this turns out.

For decades, this approach has proven successful for thousands of parents!

To help kids become mentally strong, kids need healthy parenting as well as healthy brains. Combining the two was a no-brainer!

Dr. Charles Fay

A Gift That Will Last a Lifetime

Holiday seasons tend to bring more sources of stress than other times of the year. These can range from the usual financial strains and high expectations among family members, to chaotic world events. On top of these is one stress that always arises for many parents—finding just the right holiday gifts for their children.

Have you noticed how much effort some parents put into finding holiday gifts for their kids? I bet you know someone who doesn’t think twice about spending endless hours—or even days—scouring the Internet for that perfect gift that their child has been wanting.

Let’s think about it. Is there anything wrong with this? What’s the problem with spending lots of time and energy looking for neat and nifty gifts for our kids? Nothing. However, what happens when we exert more energy finding those gifts than showing our youngsters how much of a gift they are to us?

Unfortunately, I’ve done this too. I’ve also fallen into the trap and worn myself out trying to make things so perfect that I’ve forgotten the most perfect gift of all—the expression of never-ending, unconditional love.

We’re all wired to need it. All of us yearn for a relationship with someone who will love us forever, regardless of how stinky we behave. Isn’t this the greatest gift we can give our loved ones? Isn’t this what the holiday season is truly about?

During this holiday season, try to keep the following in mind:

  • Spend more time playing with your kids than you spend shopping for them
  • Remember that the gift they really yearn for is you
  • Hug them and smile into their eyes as often as possible
  • Show them through your never-ending, unconditional love what a precious gift they are

Unconditional love is at the core of Love and Logic. As Love and Logic parents, we teach our kids to be responsible for their behaviors and we do it by giving them constant, unconditional love, regardless of whether they make good choices or poor choices. That’s a gift that will last a lifetime for them.

Thanks for reading!

If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend. Our goal is to help as many families as possible.

Dr. Charles Fay

Quiet Times: The Greatest Holiday Gift

We live in a frenetic world, one that is constantly bombarding us with text messages, emails, news, and unsettling events beyond our control. The holiday season adds to this sensory deluge and the effects can be overwhelming. My most cherished holiday memories from childhood are of sweet times when we were quiet and still, and we had time to just enjoy being together as a family.

In addition to helping us relax and recharge our energy, recent neurological studies have shown that peace and quiet, and even silence, can help restore our nervous systems and enhance our ability to respond to the world around us. These studies suggest that quiet might even stimulate development of new nerves cells. However, quiet time is a precious commodity these days, even more so during the holiday season.

One way to ensure we have enough quiet time is by setting and maintaining appropriate limits. The greatest holiday gift we can give our kids is the gift of limits—mostly limits on ourselves and the other adults in our lives. The limits we set with ourselves mostly involve curbing the natural inclination to do the impossible—make the holidays a perfect experience for everyone. We all know what happens when we attempt to make everyone happy.

The limits we set with the other adults in our lives involve taking good care of ourselves and our kids. Caution! Some of these might cause severe shock:

  • We can’t wait to see you guys. We’ll need to leave by six so we can spend some quiet time with the kids before bedtime.
  • We love you and want to spend time with you. We are trying to help the kids be more relaxed and rested, so we’ll need to do this on another day.
  • We want to spend a relaxing time with everyone, so we’ll be ordering pizza.

The true meaning of the holidays lies in the connections we make with our families and with others in our communities throughout the season. These relationships are an invaluable part of all our lives. Cherish your relationships and create truly joyful memories this holiday season.

In whatever holiday activities you have, connect with the people you love, and not just those under the same roof, and balance your activities with adequate rest and quiet times for you and your kids.

Dr. Charles Fay

The Roots of Sibling Rivalry

In recent years, families have come under enormous stress in many ways from the outside world. These external stresses can enhance internal difficulties with relationships, including relationships between siblings. When it comes to sibling conflict, it’s very common for all of us to focus on the relationship between siblings instead of focusing on the parent-child relationship, which can often be the root of the problem.

Healthy parent-child relationships are characterized by two things. First, the child feels unconditionally loved. Second, the child sees their parents as the undisputed authority figures in their home.

People who care enough to study Love and Logic materials rarely have an issue with the “love” part of this equation. It comes naturally! The part they struggle with (and which I have struggled with!) is the authority part. Perhaps it’s helpful to remember that when we provide strong leadership, not just friendship, we see:

  • Happier kids who tend to get along far better with us

  • More secure kids who have fewer conflicts with each other

  • Kids who respect us enough to stop arguing with each other when we ask, “Guys? Will you stop that, please?”

When we display relational weakness, chronic sibling conflict is a sure result.

Kids almost always fight with each other more when they lack consistent and loving limits.

Too frequently, we slip into the habit of addressing symptoms rather than core causes. When we do so, we find ourselves endlessly spinning our wheels, dealing with recurring symptoms, as well as ones that continuously erupt in new and unpredictable ways.

Real and lasting solutions to recurring family issues involve taking strategic steps toward re-establishing loving authority in the home. The first step involves asking the following questions:

  • Are we setting enough limits that we can enforce?

  • Are we enforcing these limits with empathy and logical consequences rather than trying to do so with empty threats and lectures?

  • Are the kids able to manipulate us, their parents, against each other?

  • Are we trying too hard to be their friends rather than focusing on remaining friendly authority figures?

Dr. Charles Fay

Thankfulness

On my tenth birthday, my great grandfather handed me a new fishing rod and reel. Without thinking, I ran out of the house and onto the lawn, then started catching an imaginary five-pound rainbow trout out of my mother’s flower garden.

In my state of euphoria, I’d forgotten to thank him. Like a lightning bolt, my mother shot out of the house, screen door smacking behind her. “What did you forget to say?” she asked with loving authority.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where three words were modeled and always expected. Two of them were “Thank you” and the third was “Please.” We heard them use these words a lot. They used them with each other, with other adults, and with us.

Are your kids developing this habit? If not, it’s never too early to start. We believe that the best way for kids to learn life’s most important lessons is via the Three Es of Love and Logic.

Example
Do we show our kids how thankful we are for what we have, or do they see us grumbling and complaining?

Kids need to witness us being sincerely thankful for the air we breathe, our health, making it home from work without having a car accident, the food we have, the water we drink, our family, and all the other good things in our lives.

Experience
There are many people around the world today suffering from hunger and starvation because of food shortages caused by many different forces beyond their control, such as famine and war. People who experience hunger and starvation are very grateful when they get a decent meal and do not have to worry about their next meal.

Although we certainly don't advocate that children must experience this sort of suffering before they can learn to be thankful for what they have, will they ever experience true thankfulness if they are given everything they want without having to wait or work for it?

Empathy
Parents who use anger, lectures, threats, or punishment to coerce their children into being thankful, will find that they only create resentment and rebellion instead.

Parents who demonstrate their genuine empathy and love, as they allow their children to learn sometimes uncomfortable lessons about humility and thankfulness, are far more likely to raise kids with an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful and enjoy your kids this Thanksgiving!

Dr. Charles Fay

Grandparenting With Love and Logic

According to recent U.S. census data, over 7 million American grandparents live with grandchildren under 18 years old. Over 2 million grandparents are entirely responsible for their grandchildren. We see these numbers reflected in calls that we receive from grandparents, who are involved in some way with raising their grandkids, and they ask how the principles and techniques of Love and Logic can help them.

Some grandparents who call have had previous experience with Love and Logic, but many are new to our approach. We have found that grandparents can benefit from Love and Logic and help them build healthy relationships with their grandkids while setting firm, loving limits that can turn problem behaviors around.

Many grandparents, just like many parents, tend to be helicopter grandparents. They are eager to swoop in to rescue their grandchildren. This behavior is ultimately based on their love, but rescuing, by parents or grandparents, is not always beneficial in the long run for kids.

Children face many problems in today’s world, including getting to school on time, being hassled by other kids, keeping their grades up, feeling lazy, making poor choices of friends, and learning how to use technology safely, just to name a few. These problems often involve conflicts between the child and others, or between the child and herself or himself. They are also very tempting situations for rescuing by a loving grandparent.

Grandparents who intervene or rescue with these sorts of problems often think that they are showing their love for the grandchild. However, it is important to understand that when we fix things for our kids, they cannot learn how to fix things on their own. We believe that most of the time children can find their own solutions. If there is a good chance that children can solve their own problems, we should let them.

When a grandchild is facing a difficult situation, the grandparent can apply the principles of Love and Logic and help by handing the problem to the grandchild using the following five steps:

  • Show empathy to the grandchild.
  • Imply that the grandchild is smart enough to find a solution to the problem by asking “How do you think you’re going to handle this”?
  • Ask permission to share alternatives.
  • Help the grandchild look at the consequences of the alternatives.
  • Let the grandchild decide to solve or not to solve the problem.

Dr. Charles Fay

What is Healthy Preteen and Teen Behavior?

Teens and preteens can be very challenging for parents, compounding the everyday stress that parents feel these days. If you have a preteen or teen, it’s very easy to start wondering, and even worrying, about the things they do and how to respond to them. One way to help reduce this stress is to understand the difference between what is and what is not normal behavior. Here’s an overview of what you can expect as normal behavior and what behaviors might warrant more concern.

Normal and Developmental Behaviors

  • Act like they love things that you don’t. Examples are music, values, art, clothes, etc.
  • Make a lot of noise with goofy singing, noises, and impulsive outbursts that seem to come from nowhere.
  • Are clumsy with their own bodies and things.
  • Are extremely fascinated with digital media. Examples include video games, social media, etc.
  • Become very upset sometimes when limits are set over digital media.
  • Are often moody.
  • Experiment occasionally with defiance.
  • Want to be independent.
  • Make poor decisions occasionally.
  • Act like they know everything.

Unhealthy and Problematic Behaviors

  • Are openly rebellious in the form of chronic disrespect, drug use, acting out sexually, etc.
  • Make a lot of noise with hurtful name calling, arguing, and outbursts that are clearly intended to hurt others.
  • Damage property or themselves intentionally.
  • Aren’t interested in doing anything other than using digital media.
  • Become extremely defiant, deceptive, or even violent when limits are set over digital media.
  • Are often mean.
  • Are almost always defiant.
  • Seem to hate being around you or other adults.
  • Don’t seem to understand or care about cause and effect.
  • Act selfish and inconsiderate toward the feelings of others.

Knowing what’s within the wide range of “normal” behavior helps us find more humor and enjoyment during this period of our kids’ lives. It also helps us recognize when we might need professional help and allows us to respond in ways that are helpful, rather than ways that damage our relationship and produce rebellion.

Dr. Charles Fay