Love and Logic

Quiet Times: The Greatest Holiday Gift

What memories do you treasure from the holidays of your youth?
 
Here I sit trying to remember the cool gifts I received and the spectacularly entertaining things we did as a family. I don’t remember much about the stuff… or the entertainment. I do remember the people.
 
I vividly remember Christmas when I was four. Grandma Marie was there. By the following year, cancer had taken her away. How thankful I am that we had time… sweet time where we were quiet and still and just enjoyed being together. Isn’t it sad that it sometimes requires a great illness for us to still ourselves and truly connect with the people we love?
 
Be with the people you love… not just under the same roof.
 
The greatest holiday gifts we can give our kids are 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 may 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 relaxed time with everyone, so we’ll be ordering pizza.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

My Kid Has a Learning Disability

Vickie was a distraught mom who reached out to us and shared: “My son is dyslexic and has other learning disabilities. He feels so inept in school. I can tell he just dreads showing me his work.”
 
Jim Fay shares his wisdom on how to talk with kids who have learning barriers or disabilities — and how we can help ease some of the shame they may feel.
 
Everybody has unique gifts and abilities. We serve kids well when we focus on their talents and areas of strength.
 
If kids tell us about a weakness, we can answer, “Yeah, that’s tough. And what are you good at?”
 
We want to get them to say it out loud. Their brain hears the sound of their own voice and their subconscious mind accepts that information without questioning it.
 
For the same reason, we might ask to see only their successful papers; only the problems they got correct or the assignments they feel good about. We don’t even want to see the ones they did poorly. We want to get them talking about their correct answers and successes. Ask the question, “How did you do that?” Once again, their brains are going to hear attributions — positive ones that center around effort such as, “I got number three correct” because “I worked hard” or “I kept trying.”
 
A great way to help these kids is to have a positive impact on their overall self-concept. Most of us don’t like talking about weaknesses and things we don’t do well. Focusing on strengths instead will have a major impact on their self-concept.
 
Many of the most successful people “fly on their strengths.” They spend the majority of their time and efforts on doing things they are good at and don’t spend too much time on what they don’t do well.
 
We know this can be tough when schools have certain academic requirements, but that shouldn’t stop us from helping our kids to zero in on and emphasize their strengths.
 
After sharing these thoughts, Vickie informed us, “He’s a wonderful artist! He’s truly amazing! I’m going to spend more time talking about that and asking him about the things he loves creating. His teacher is great and I know she will do this, too.”
 
This young man is fortunate. We are betting he is on his way to happier times.
 
You can hear more about these techniques in Jim Fay’s wonderful audio, Shaping Self-Concept.
 
Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.
 
Jedd Hafer

The Best Consequence

Have you ever been at a complete loss for an effective consequence? One of the most common requests we get is:
 
“Can you give us a list of consequences?”
 
The reason you won’t find this in any of our materials is that effective discipline involves far more than simply picking the right consequence. It involves building and maintaining loving relationships so that: (a) kids are less likely to rebel; and (b) they experience genuine remorse when they blow it. It also involves setting effective limits, sharing control within these limits, and teaching skills so children are prepared for life’s tough challenges.
 
With this said, there are a variety of consequences that often outperform the others. It’s called “restitution.” We at Love and Logic call it the “Energy Drain” approach. Performing restitution means to restore. It means to make things right by performing any action that repairs the inconvenience or damage inflicted on another.
 
It’s the preferred type of consequence because it:
 

•  Leaves kids seeing they can solve the problems they create.
•  Requires real thought, action, and learning.
•  Builds healthy self-esteem and efficacy.
•  Meets the need to reconnect when relationships have been damaged.

 
While it’s not always possible to repair a concrete object, it’s almost always possible to replace energy drained from another person. Having kids replace voltage they sap is the approach of choice, particularly with youth who feel poorly about themselves and need to see they are capable of doing good.
 
The next time your child drains somebody’s energy you may want to experiment with saying:
 
“This is so sad. What an energy drain. How are you going to replace that energy?”
 
Then provide some options, such as:
 

•  “Some kids decide to do extra chores.”
•  “Others decide to wash the person’s car inside and out.”
•  “Some decide to stay home instead of being driven to practice.”


Be positive and thankful about their energy replacement efforts. Don’t try to make them feel bad, and don’t be surprised if they appear to enjoy replacing your energy.
 
Kids don’t have to feel horrible to learn from restitution. In fact, many will feel good about it. When this happens, it often translates into fewer battles for everyone involved.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

I Use Love and Logic and People Think I’m Too Nice

Sometimes, teachers delay consequences, conversations, and outcomes so that they can respond to their students with more wisdom and compassion.
 
Sometimes, parents let kids know that their “energy has been drained” and they will have to do something about their kids’ misbehavior later.
 
Sometimes, adults exercise self-control and remember to respond with patience and kindness instead of anger and wrath.
 
And sadly, onlookers sometimes interpret these skills and actions as weakness. These onlookers conclude that the Love and Logic adults are “just being too nice.”
 
So, what do we do when people think we’re being too nice/weak?

  •  Remember our goal is to raise wonderful human beings – not impress the “judges” who may be holding up 2s, 3s, and 3.5s at our “performance.”
  • Remember kids learn best when their brains are feeling safe and calm. Anything we do to be scary to kids is creating the opposite of a good learning situation for that young brain.
  • Remember self-control is a strength and the failure to control our emotions can be a dangerous weakness – one that can cause us to harm others and say and do things we don’t mean. 

When criticisms fly, some adults use “one-liners” similar to those we teach to kids for occasions when their peers make obnoxious observations:

  • "Thanks for noticing.”
  • “I always appreciate hearing different viewpoints.”
  • “Appreciate the feedback.”

Or, some adults decide to say nothing at all to the critics and just focus on doing their best to raise thoughtful, kind, responsible young people.
 
There are a lot worse things than kids learning to be really nice by watching us.
 

Jedd Hafer

Balancing Busy Families

Many parents ask, “Is it really possible to raise well-adjusted kids while at the same time trying to manage an incredibly hectic and stressful work and family life?” One mom described their situation:

We try to live a simple, frugal lifestyle. Even with keeping our spending as low as possible, both of us still have to work full schedules just to provide for the basics. With three young children things get crazy. The house almost always feels like a mess, and we have very little time and energy left over to spend with the kids. Both of us feel horribly guilty about this much of the time.


Some parents spend almost no time with their kids because they are addicted to work, addicted to buying extra stuff, addicted to selfish activities or all three. Many others, however, find themselves having to work their fingers to the bone because they simply don’t have a choice. Here are some words of encouragement… and some tips… for this second type:
 

  • Many well-adjusted adults grew up with exceptionally busy parents.
     
    The key seems to be this: As children, they were not shielded from their family’s economic struggles. Their parents were honest about the challenges and consistently modelled hopeful, positive attitudes. As such, they internalized the truth that they were deeply loved even though their parents weren’t able to spend as much time with them as they wanted.
  • Remember that guilt often interferes with good parenting.
     
    When we allow guilt to interfere with our ability to set and enforce loving limits and expectations, our kids suffer.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help with supervision.
     
    Kids of all ages need good supervision. Without it, even very good kids often get involved in drugs, alcohol, early sex, and other high-risk behaviours.
  • You are doing a good and noble thing by taking care of the needs of your family.
     
    This is wonderful modelling, and it sends a powerful message of love to your kids.


Dr. Charles Fay

Building Resilience

Have you ever seen a kid just crumble at the first hint of difficulty? More teachers are noticing this and are pointing out the tremendous need for their students to develop resiliency and determination.
 
I recently watched a mom at a park, hovering near her toddler who was attempting to climb a short flight of steps to a slide. As soon as the little guy paused and struggled to get his foot up to the bottom step (which was designed for toddlers), Mom swooped over and lifted him to the top of the steps. Then she waited at the bottom, reassuring him all the while. Fortunately, Mom was soon distracted by one of her other kids “needing help” and before she realized it, the boy was ascending the steps and sliding down like a pro. Good news for that little boy’s resilience development.
 
We know kids are going to go through some struggle in life and that is a good thing. We also know there won’t always be someone there to solve all their problems or verbally coddle them.
 
The abilities to 1) manage unfavorable events and to 2) continue with challenging tasks are top predictors of success in many areas (including academics and relationships). We must not rob kids of the gift of struggle – a crucial ingredient in the resiliency formula.
 
One of the easiest ways to begin developing resiliency with children is simply asking them how they are going to handle problems. Resisting our urge to quickly solve the problem for them or tell them what to do, we can make a soft, empathetic sound and ask, “Hmm, what do you think you’re going to do?”
 
Just the act of thinking about solutions begins the powerful process of owning and solving problems. We want kids to believe solutions don’t have to come from an outside source, but can come from inside. Whether they come up with great solutions or not, just the act of wrestling with the problem will begin to strengthen their “resiliency muscles.”
 
We encourage you to run this simple experiment any time you see your child encounter a minor problem or struggle. See if you notice a difference in their willingness to solve problems and attack challenges. We would love to hear your results.
 

Jedd Hafer

Kids and High Achievement

Does it ever seem like we live in a world of extremes? Sometimes educators comment, “The parents of some of our students spend absolutely no time involved in their children’s educations. The end result is predictable: Their kids rarely achieve up to their potential.”
 
Other times teachers say, “Some of our parents are so overinvolved in their children’s homework, school assignments, and grades that their kids can’t seem to function without someone doing most of the work for them.”
 
Considering these extremes, perhaps it makes sense to compare and contrast healthy versus unhealthy parental involvement, understanding that the healthy variety is essential for high achievement.
 
Healthy parental involvement means being aware of your kids’ assignments, asking questions about these assignments, and offering assistance if they ask. It means giving ideas and allowing them to do the lion’s share of the work.
 
Unhealthy parental involvement means constantly reminding and rescuing, essentially taking more responsibility for their work than they do.
 
Healthy parental involvement means consistently allowing your kids to evaluate how they feel about their performance. This might sound like, “You have a sixty-nine in music so far. How do you feel about that?” or asking, “You earned a ninety-eight on that test. How does that leave you feeling?” Kids allowed to own the good and not-so-good feelings associated with their performance are more likely to understand and care about the connection between their personal effort and outcomes.
 
Unhealthy parental involvement means making it all about our feelings. This might go like, “That sixty-nine in music is just not acceptable. You need to bring that grade up” or it may sound like, “You earned a ninety-eight on that test. That makes me so happy. That’s great.” When we make their grades about our feelings, we run the risk of stealing opportunities for them to think about how these grades personally affect them.
 
Healthy parental involvement means putting most of our energy into providing a healthy home where kids are loved, respected, and expected to complete chores. It’s about creating a place where they get to experience an authentic relationship between cause and effect. In other words, they experience the gift of loving discipline.
 
Unhealthy parental involvement means spending so much time criticizing the school and rescuing our kids from their teachers that we have little time or energy left over to create a rock solid home environment.
 
Healthy parental involvement means allowing our kids to hear us talking with excitement about our own learning. It also means letting them hear us saying positive things about their teachers and their school.
 
Unhealthy parental involvement involves providing plenty of lectures about how important education is while allowing our kids to hear us gripe and complain about our own learning responsibilities and how subpar the school and teachers are.
 
Overall, healthy parental involvement means being good models. It means allowing kids to make mistakes. It means providing plenty of empathy. It definitely means remembering that raising kids who can think and learn for themselves is not for the faint of heart.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Hassle-Free Mornings

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.
For example: 

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

 
Jedd Hafer

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:
 

  1.  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.
  2. Am I displaying anger or frustration?

    Anger and frustration feed misbehavior.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

Theft Alert

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.

Jim Fay

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.
 
Jedd Hafer

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.

 

Jim Fay

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?
Answer: No.

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.
 
Jim Fay

School Success!

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