Love and Logic
If you’ve ever resorted to nagging, begging, or threatening your kids off to daycare or school, you are not alone! Sadly, when this happens, frequently our relationships suffer and our kids fail to learn important lessons about responsibility and self-sufficiency.
Provided below are some quick tips for placing the lion’s share of responsibility on your kids:
Remember that even children as young as three or four can learn this skill.
Small children can follow a visual list of tasks they have to complete each morning. Some parents print pictures representing getting dressed, brushing teeth, eating, etc.
Practice when you’re not stressed.
Wise parents teach their kids how to get ready and practice on a weekend morning. Older children with special needs can also benefit from this practice, as well as having a list like the one mentioned above.
Rise a bit early and get yourself ready first.
Children learn almost all important skills by watching the “big” people around them. Experiment with saying, “We will help you get ready when we are completely ready ourselves.” Help them only when you are completely ready to go. In addition to providing a good example, this allows us to be far more relaxed as we are assisting our kids.
Set a small number of limits and resist the urge to nag or remind.
Breakfast is served until the timer goes “ding.”
My car is leaving at seven o’clock. Will you be going to school with your clothes on your body or in a bag?
I charge ten dollars to drive kids when they’ve missed the bus.
The key is resisting the urge to remind. The more we remind, the more we have to remind.
Allow your kids to blow it.
Too often we nag and remind so that our kids will eat breakfast… or do their hair… or brush their teeth… or remember their homework. Wise parents understand that children will never take responsibility for doing such things when they aren’t allowed to make mistakes and experience the logical and natural consequences… blanketed in SINCERE EMPATHY.
Kids who learn to take responsibility for their exit each morning are far more likely to enter their workplace on time each morning as adults.
Dr. Charles Fay
Take the Stress Out of Parent-Teacher Conferences
Do you ever dread those conferences (from either side of the desk)? Do you ever fear being blindsided with bad news? Do you find yourself feeling defensive before you even settle into that folding chair?
Many parents AND teachers tell us they look forward to conferences the way they look forward to complicated dental procedures. However, if we can remember a few principles of human communication, parent-teacher conferences don’t have to be so unpleasant. These principles will help adults on either side of a difficult conversation.
- Empathy is even more powerful than you think. Leading potentially difficult news with empathy will make a world of difference. We can end up using a lot of technology to communicate but we must remember that people can’t hear empathy in a text or email. Sincere empathy comes across largely in our tone of voice and our facial expressions. It can take more time and effort to communicate regularly via phone or in person, but it is worth it.
- Often, the anger we are hearing is a result of pain that occurred at some other time and place. If we remember that fear and pain are often the primary emotions and we are rarely the true cause of those feelings, it can help us avoid taking the emotional venting personally.
- Let the meeting be about what is best for the child in the big picture. If we set our egos and insecurities aside, we will find that more often than not, our goals are more common than we realized. It’s not about a win for us, but a win for the student.
Help! Love and Logic Skills and Consequences Aren’t Working
Have you ever been in a spot with your kids when you felt like Love and Logic just wasn’t working? I have! In fact, there have been times when my wife and I have joked that Love and Logic only works on other peoples’ kids.
Listed below are six questions to ask ourselves when this begins to happen:
- Am I using too many words as I implement the technique?
The more words we use when a child is upset or acting out, the less effective we become.
- Am I displaying anger or frustration?
Anger and frustration feed misbehavior.
- Am I giving too many warnings before consequences ... or lecturing too much afterward?
The more we warn kids about consequences, the less they seem to care about them when they finally come. Also, after the children experience consequences, resist the urge to rub salt in the wound by lecturing them about what they should have learned.
- Has our relationship gone downhill?
If consequences don’t seem to be working, it might be due to a lack of positive connection between you and the child. Experiment with using the One-Sentence Intervention, found in many of our materials.
- Does this child – or do we, as parents – need professional help?
If there are deeper problems driving the misbehavior, it’s likely that few things will really work until these issues are dealt with.
- Is this a temporary phase?
Yep! Sometimes kids act out because they are kids, and their little neurons are still developing. Hang in there and see if a little time does the trick.
I know a loving mom who does just about everything to make sure her kids are happy every second of the day. If there isn’t the type of food they like in the fridge, she runs to the store to buy it. Whenever the newest electronic device comes out, she makes sure they’re the first to own it.
Of course, she refrains from requiring any chores out of them, because she knows they work hard at school. Besides, it upsets them when she asks them to help.
Unfortunately, and unintentionally, Mom is stealing from her children. They are two of the most miserable human beings on earth. They walk around (actually they sit around) most of the time with scowls on their faces. Because Mom has stolen their self-esteem and gotten them hooked on stuff, nothing seems to bring happiness or contentment. Everything is “stupid” or “boring.”
When we train our kids to believe that getting stuff is the key to happiness, might we be stealing their lifelong joy and sense of fulfillment? In our audio, Parents are Not ATMs, we teach that true contentment comes from earning things rather than being showered with them.
To protect your children from this type of insidious theft, experiment with the following:
- The next time your child wants something, ask, “How do you think you might earn that?”
- Instead of taking on the problem of affording the item, say, “You may have that as soon as you can afford it.”
- Give them some ideas about how they might earn the required cash, and give yourself a pat on the back for not giving in.
- Give them some ideas about how they might earn the required cash, and give yourself a pat on the back for not giving in.
Are Chores Punishment?
One of our social media followers recently raised an excellent question:
“We want to model completing chores with joyful enthusiasm, right? But then, sometimes when kids ‘put back our energy,’ they do so by doing chores for us. Are we not sending conflicting messages? Are chores fun – or are they a punishment?”
This is a great question and it gets right to the heart of Love and Logic. The answer is YES – we want kids to feel great about completing tasks and contributing to the home. Does that mean that chores are always pleasant? Of course not. Chores still require time and energy and human beings (especially grown-up ones) only have a limited supply of each.
We can almost think of “energy” like money. Spending money can be fun. But, if I am careless and break a window, I don’t enjoy spending that money because I would rather spend it on something more fun. Spending time or energy (or money) to fix a mistake might feel good – but I could probably have found something else I would have preferred to spend them on.
An important thing to remember here is that the Energy Drain is about a restorative way to solve a problem (a problem the kid caused). We are not trying to punish kids or make them feel bad. For this reason, we don’t panic when they end up enjoying the work they do to replace our energy. The goal wasn’t to make them suffer, so we can feel good when they enjoy the process.
In the end, we want kids to feel good about working – whether their work is contribution or restitution. And if they don’t feel so great about working to restore, the problem still got solved and we can move on.
Shopping and Young Children: A Powerful Learning Opportunity
What can little kids learn when they are shopping with their parents in the grocery store? A huge amount!
They can learn about how to find the items and about what’s the best value. They can learn about quantity. They can learn about quality. They can learn about how much you love hanging out with them in the store and how helpful they are to you. They can also learn about boredom. They can learn about not getting what they want. They can learn delayed gratification and self-control.
They can learn a lot. That is as long as they aren’t watching a video on a phone or a tablet.
Many parents of young children allow that. It’s understandable. It makes it easier in the short term. Nevertheless, Love and Logic is really big on what happens later in the kid’s life; what happens later on with your relationship with the child.
We are really big on paying now… rather than paying much bigger later on.
So… the next time you’re in the store, would it be healthier for the child to be helping you shop? How can you make that happen?
- Before you go, the child can help you draw pictures of the items you need to find. Another option is to print images of these items off the web. Now the child has something to hold in their hand as they help you on your mission.
- When they find something you need they can feel great about themselves. If they spot something that’s not right you can say, “Oh, that’s really close! That’s almost what we want. Let’s look over here. Oh, look at that. It looks just like our picture. Look, it says ‘Beans.’ The letter ‘B’ stands for beans.”
- You can ask questions: “Are we going to get the small one for this price or the bigger one? I think we should get the bigger one. It’s a better value. That means the price is just a little bigger, but the quantity is a lot bigger. ‘Quantity’ is just a fancy word for how much you get.”
These things make shopping so much more fun, and think about the lessons learned with respect to vocabulary, math, and other essential skills.
Of course, they are not always going to be happy about this approach, particularly if they have become accustomed to watching videos or playing games while you are shopping. This is okay, because it is most important to give our children small opportunities to become unhappy or bored.
Do these feelings still come our way as adults? The healthiest people are those who learned early in life that these feelings are temporary… and that they can cope and get through them.
Dr. Charles Fay
Want Your Child's Teacher to Listen to You?
There was a problem on the playground during recess today. Even though it involved only some of the classmates, the entire class was punished with loss of recess for two days. Patty and Wanda were incensed.
“Most of us were being good! It’s just not fair for all of us to miss recess,” they told their mothers. “You need to call the teacher and make her change her mind,” they insisted.
Wanda’s mother went to the phone, and when the teacher answered said, “Punishing all the kids for what a few of them did just doesn’t make sense. You just need to handle this in a better way. Both Wanda and I think that this is totally unfair!”
Patty’s mother called the teacher and said, “I’d like to share what the girls have told me about the recess problem and get your thoughts on it.”
I bet you know which mother’s concerns the teacher was more receptive to hearing and accepting.
I visited with this teacher. She told me that Wanda’s mother called first and that she immediately found herself being defensive about the situation. The call didn’t go well. The conversation she had with Patty’s mom went better.
She went on to say, “I didn’t feel defensive at all when Patty’s mom called. I liked her opening statement so well that I’m going to be using it in the future when I have to call parents about a problem.”
What was that opening statement? “I’d like to share what I’ve been hearing and get your thoughts.” It’s a surefire way to keep the other person from feeling attacked.
Born to Learn
It was a typical trip. There I sat at gate B 29… waiting for yet another airplane… trying not to think about the fact that my connecting flight was still 2 hours way.
Like a cool summer breeze, Andrew arrived on the scene. “What that?” he asked his mother, pointing at one of the planes taxiing down the runway.
“That’s an airplane, Andrew” she replied with a smile.
“What that?” he inquired, pointing at something else.
“That’s what they pull planes with,” she gently replied.
“What that?” he asked as his bright eyes gazed the other way.
With loving patience, she answered, “I don’t know, Andrew. I’m not sure.”
Never losing his enthusiasm and his six million dollar smile, Andrew proceeded to ask “What that?” approximately 15 more times over the next thirty minutes.
What a joy it was to watch this small child’s wonder and excitement! What a pleasure to see his kind mother do her best to sweetly address his multiple inquiries!
In my seminars I’m often asked, “What do we have to do to make kids want to learn?”
My response is always the same:
All children are born with a strong drive to explore, learn
and master their environment.
The key to helping underachieving kids is not punishment! It doesn’t involve finding bigger and better consequences… or better rewards.
Lack of academic motivation is usually the result of unmet needs related to control, competence, emotional safety, belonging, etc.
Demonstrating a sincere desire to help… and not to punish… is the first step along the road to recovery. The next steps involve rebuilding the foundation of emotional needs that free kids to learn.
Dr. Charles Fay
Don't Lose Your Status As A Role Model
Question: What is one of the primary ways that kids learn?
Answer: Modeling (subconscious imitation of adult behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes).
Question: Who becomes a model for kids?
Answer: A person they see as both strong and loving at the same time.
Question: Once a child accepts a person as a model, how does the child see his/her own position or role?
Answer: As a child, student, and a follower who should listen to the adult.
Question: What happens to the adult’s role if the child can hook him/her into debates or arguments about limits and boundaries?
Answer: Their roles change to that of equals. It is no longer an adult/child relationship. It is now an adult/adult relationship.
Question: If that happens, what happens to the adult’s role as a model?
Answer: It loses effectiveness.
Question: Does the child now feel a strong need to listen to that adult?
Question: If this is true, then why is it so important that we not engage in arguments with kids about the limits we set?
Answer: If we do, we lose our status as models. Then we find ourselves demanding that sports heroes become the role models for our kids.
Question: Who should be the real role models for kids?
Answer: Parents and teachers.
This is the reason that Love and Logic places such a strong emphasis upon the use of the Neutralizing Arguments technique for those times when kids try to hook you into arguments. Master the art of responding to arguments with, “Could be,” and “What did I say?” Then smile and walk away.
Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.
Do you want your children to be the ones who easily give up when assignments get difficult… or do you hope they’ll have the confidence and grit required to keep going when the going gets tough?
What’s going to best prepare them for tomorrow’s extremely competitive workforce? Will it be high grades because they only took the easier classes… or will it be somewhat lower grades earned by finishing a more challenging course of study?
What’s most important: stellar grades or solid perseverance and skills?
As this school year begins, let’s give our kids the gift of seeing that satisfaction and growth come from facing challenges.
• Focus on the strains rather than the brains
Instead of praising, “You are so bright,” notice their successes and ask, “How did you do that?”
• Help them blame their success on effort and perseverance.
Most kids will respond to “How did you do that?” with “I don’t know.” When this happens, ask a question: “Did you work hard or did you keep trying?”
Both of the options embedded in this question point directly to strains… not brains.
• Avoid placing them on a pedestal.
Capable kids often get so much positive feedback about their successes they begin to fear taking risks. It’s as if they think, “If I try something challenging, I might not live up to what everybody thinks about me. I’d better take the easier route.”
• Show them that failure is not final… it’s informative.
Many children develop a perfectionistic orientation by watching their rather perfectionistic parents. I’ve been guilty of this. Sadly, doing so leaves many kids fearful of taking healthy academic risks.
Give your kids… and yourself… a gift. Do your best to laugh about your blunders, while allowing your children to hear you say, “I sure learned a lot from that!”
• Love them unconditionally.
When our kids know that we love them… not what they do… they feel safe to make the mistakes required to become truly exceptional people.
Dr. Charles Fay