Love and Logic

When Love and Logic Doesn’t Work

Over the years, customers sometimes call seeking advice on why their efforts using Love and Logic has not worked with their kids. Based on what these customers tell us, we learned that there are several obstacles that can thwart the Love and Logic goal of raising responsible, respectful kids who make good decisions. Here are four obstacles that we have seen in the past.

How the Parent Communicates with the Child.
This is the most common reason that Love and Techniques appear not to work. The right words might be used by the parent with the best intentions, but nonverbal cues communicate anger and frustration to the child, and these cues speak louder than words. The power of these nonverbal cues cannot be underestimated—they will completely undermine the intended message. Empathy must always be delivered first, with sincerity, and without any hint of anger or frustration.

Warnings and Lectures.
When adults use too many words and resort to lecturing and issuing warnings, they cause the child to shut down and stop paying attention to the message. Using fewer words and enforceable statements, delivered with empathy, is much more effective than a long lecture or issuing unenforceable warnings.

Selecting the Right Technique.
Love and Logic’s suite of techniques are intended to be used for specific circumstances. Understanding how and when to use these techniques appropriately is key to success with Love and Logic. Sometimes uncertainty stems from a parent trying only a few techniques from our suite of products, instead of thoroughly understanding Love and Logic principles and how the techniques are to be used. We strongly urge parents to attend the classes for the Parenting the Love and Logic Way curriculum from one of our Independent Facilitators, so they can learn how to use Love and Logic properly.

Going Too Fast.
Many parents new to Love and Logic are eager to apply as many of the techniques as possible—as quickly as possible. This can often backfire for two reasons—the techniques are not learned properly, and kids become overwhelmed and confused. It is best to go slow, apply one or two techniques at a time, and focus one behavior at a time—preferably easier problems first.

Many of our past customers have succeeded with Love and Logic and tell us how their kids grew up to be responsible, respectful, and successful adults. Love and Logic works when it is properly used. Avoiding these obstacles can help ensure your success.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Love and Logic Starts with a Hug

Sometimes our customers ask about the origin of the name, Love and Logic. Love and Logic was founded in 1977 by Jim Fay and Foster Cline. Over the years, the company’s name has become associated with principles and techniques that allow adults to have respectful, healthy relationships with the children in their lives.

The “Love” in Love and Logic refers to the kind of love characterized by empathy, understanding, and a mutually respectful relationship between the adult and the child. Love and Logic’s techniques invariably begin with a healthy dose of genuine empathy. This is critical because it takes a great deal of love to:

  • Hug them before we ask them about their responsibilities
  • Provide empathy first before consequences when holding them accountable for their poor decisions
  • Find the positives in our kids when they act poorly
  • Set limits without anger, lectures, or threats

The importance of providing empathy is based on an understanding of how our brains work. Using anger, lectures, or threats simply results in setting off the limbic system, which triggers the fight, flight or freeze response. Empathy opens the door to the prefrontal cortex, allowing the child to feel safe and able to think clearly about the consequences of their actions.

The “Logic” in Love and Logic refers to the use of logical consequences in combination with empathy. Logical consequences do the teaching only if the child can feel safe and loved. When we give this special kind of love, a wise type of logic then can grow in their minds:

When I make poor decisions, it makes my life pretty sad.
I wonder how my next decision will affect my life.

Understanding how the brain works has been an essential part of the Love and Logic approach since the beginning. Because of this focus, the Love and Logic Team is very excited about its collaboration with the Amen University Team and its unique focus on brain health. Together we hope to provide the optimum in brain health and parenting support.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Stepparenting: Taking Care of Your Marriage

Last week we announced that our eBook, Stepparenting: Keeping it Sane!, is now available again. There are seven steps to success described in the first part of the book. This newsletter includes a process from one of those steps, a process designed to help stepparents take care of their marriage.

Who's really running your home? For kids to thrive, they must know that you are strong enough and your marriage is strong enough to weather any limit testing. Kids always benefit when they see that they cannot create a house divided.

A Quick Test
The next time you and your spouse want to spend time together without interruptions, say the following in a kind yet assertive way:

"We love you. Right now, we are having some adult time. Will you please go somewhere else so that we can have some quiet time to talk? Thank you."

If your kids won't comply, who do they believe is really running the home?

Prove That You and Your Spouse are United Team Leaders
In Stepparenting: Keeping It Sane!, I describe a four-step process for helping you demonstrate that you and your spouse are united as a team. Here is an outline of the four steps:

  • Create a situation for the sole purpose of training the kids.
    For example, agree that you would like to have a nice, private, husband-wife conversation.

  • Ask your kids to give you some “alone.”
    Be sure to ask in a pleasant, calm tone of voice. And don’t ask twice.

  • Let them believe, in the short term, that you are not wimps.
    If they refuse to comply, simply react with a casual, relaxed, “No problem. We love you too much to fight with you about this.”

  • Let empathy and consequences to the teaching.
    Do this later when you’re both calm and collected.

One couple decided to buy their kids a popular video-game system just for the purpose of this training session. When the kids refused to give them some space, the parents acted completely clueless. The next day, however, they provided a loving and sincere dose of empathy, then they returned the video-game system for a full refund. The stepmom admitted, “Even if I wouldn’t have been refunded the money, the three hundred dollars was far less than sending kids to residential treatment, checking myself into an asylum, or hiring a divorce attorney.”

The seven steps to success described in Stepparenting: Keeping it Sane! can help you manage the challenges of stepparenting, raise your kids to become resilient, well-adjusted adults, and preserve your marriage as well. .

Join Dr. Daniel Amen and me on November 3, 2022, for our FREE Online Event, Healthy Brains, Raising Brain-Healthy Kids.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Stepparenting: Should I Discipline the Kids or Not? Inbox

A significant number of our calls come from stepparents who have questions about how to parent. There are many circumstances that can lead to stepfamilies, but they all have similar challenges. 

To get a handle on what successful stepparents do, it's helpful first to get a glimpse at what less successful ones try. I call the first well-intentioned, yet doomed approach, the "Wrecking Ball" stepparenting style. These folks take on the role of demolition expert in the family. They storm in with a crash, trying to rebuild every aspect of the kids' behavior. Like drill sergeants, their favorite tools include lectures, threats, lots of new rules, and plenty of micromanaging.

I call the second well-intentioned, yet ineffective approach, the "Refugee" stepparent style. Because they don't want to step on any toes, these folks never really live in the home. Instead, they set up camp in the backyard. Peeking out of their tent screen, they watch the kids throw their daily refuse onto the lawn in front of them. Because they don't want to insult the kids by trying to replace their "real" parent, these stepparents use no tools. They simply walk on eggshells, adopting an outsider, doormat role.

Successful stepparents obsessively follow the first rule of Love and Logic:

Take good care of yourself by setting limits without anger, lectures, threats, or repeated warnings.

Instead of using strict discipline to remodel their kids’ behavior, or avoiding stepparenting challenges by remaining an outsider, they proactively use Enforceable Statements to describe how they will operate. Examples include:

  • I'll listen when your voice is calm.
  • I'll be happy to do the extra things I do for you when I feel respected.
  • I'll get that for you when I see that you've finished your chores.
  • I argue at six o'clock on Saturday mornings.
  • I'll let you know about that after I talk with your dad (or mom).
  • I'm fine with you having that if you have the money to pay for it.

More tips to help you enjoy life-long, positive relationships with your stepchildren, while maintaining the joy in your marriage, can be found in my book, Steppparenting: Keeping it Sane!.

Last August, Dr. Daniel Amen and I started our new FREE Online series. I am excited to announce the next topic in the series, Healthy Brains, Raising Brain-Healthy Kids, which will be held on November 3, 2022.

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

Chores and Success in Life

In our view, kids’ chores are a key element for their lifelong success. 

For chores to be effective, we believe that they must be handled in specific ways for them to be effective. For example, we think that kids should not be paid to do their chores. Despite what some children might believe, we are not involved in a sinister conspiracy to enslave the youth of America! We just know that kids are happier and more successful when they contribute without receiving constant compensation.

Here are some questions for you about chores, and the benefits that they can have for your kids.

What’s going to leave your kids feeling better about themselves and their family?
Will they enjoy the greatest self-esteem and sense of family loyalty if they think, “I do these things because I’m a loved, appreciated, and needed member of this team”? Or will it be better if they think, “I do these things because I get five bucks”?

What do you want them to believe about relationships?
Will they enjoy happier and more fulfilling relationships if they’re focused on selflessly helping others, or will they enjoy more contentment if they’re always asking themselves, “What’s this person done for me lately?”?

How would you like them to do in school?
Do you hope they’ll be internally motivated by the good feelings associated with accomplishment? Or do you wish them to become dependent upon constant external rewards?

What sort of work ethic do you want them to have?
Do you want them to believe that it’s their job to do whatever it takes, or would it be better if they spent most of their time grumbling, “They don’t pay me enough to do that” or “That’s not my job”?

When kids complain about being expected to contribute without pay, parents can tell them that family members help each other with chores because they love and need each other. 

Join Dr. Daniel Amen and me on November 3 for our next FREE Online Event, Raising Brain-Healthy Kids. More details will be provided in the next newsletter.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Do Kids with ADHD Need Reminders?

Often parents and grandparents ask us the question, “Is it really fair to expect children with ADHD to do things such as chores, get ready for school in the morning, and finish their homework without needing frequent reminders?”

One of the principles of Love and Logic is that kids need the number of reminders that parents give them. If we want children to need frequent reminders, then we should give them more. If we want them to need less, we should give less.

If we're more interested in creating kids with the capacity to become self-sufficient, responsible, and proud, it's much wiser to teach them "self-reminding" skills and hold them accountable for using these skills. Helping kids with ADHD learn these skills gives them valuable tools that will empower them to realize their full potential.

Can you teach your child how to make and follow checklists?

Can you take pictures of your child completing the different tasks required to get ready in the morning?

Is your child capable of keeping and using a written date book or electronic organizer?

Wouldn't life be better if your child learns to use these prompts as a guide? It can also make your life better!

If you do these things, instead of crippling your kids with reminders, they can develop the sense of responsibility and control that they need to manage their lives on their own.

Dr. Charles Fay

When Your Good Spouse Has a Different Parenting Style

Recently, someone approached me and shared a story that I’ve heard countless times from parents (wives and husbands) from every walk of life:

My husband is a good man… but we go back and forth over how to parent our kids. It’s causing major friction in our marriage, and I’m horribly worried about the kids.

With the tips listed below, many caring couples have strengthened their marriage and raised healthy, responsible kids:

Love your spouse for who they are… not who you want them to become.

Very few people change by being pressured, nagged, or criticized. Most find it safer to try new attitudes and behaviors when they feel securely loved and valued. When was the last time you told your spouse that you were head over heels in love with them?

Agree on some core values.

Many people disagree about specific parenting practices… but most seem to agree on core values. Sit with your spouse and identify five or so principles on which you can agree. Examples might include: (1) Kids need to feel loved unconditionally; (2) Kids need healthy limits; (3) Kids need to see their parents loving each other; (4) Kids need to help out around the house; (5) Kids need to experience the natural or logical consequences of their actions.

Agree that you’ll probably handle some things differently.

When the kids complain that your spouse handles things differently, respond by saying, “That’s because we are different. If you have a problem with what your mom (or dad) did, that’s between the two of you.”

Agree to always do whatever you can to make each other look good.

Even if you think your good spouse has done something unwise, support them in the eyes of the children. Discuss your disagreement when your kids are not there to hear it.

Agree to place your primary emphasis on the happiness of your marriage.

There are times in every marriage relationship when it seems tempting to side with the kids instead of one’s spouse. Wise husbands and wives avoid this trap! They understand that the best way to love their kids is to first love and respect each other.

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

Teaching Social and Emotional Skills to Our Kids

Social and emotional skills form the foundation of success in life. Why such a bold statement? Think about it—how important is self-control, patience, perseverance, decision-making, and the ability to resolve conflicts peacefully? How crucial is the ability to manage anxiety, anger, discouragement, and other uncomfortable emotions? How essential are the skills required to make and keep friends? Is learning how to empathize important?

All of us learn most of these very important skills through what we call the “Three Es” of Love and Logic—Example, Experience, and Empathy. Parents and educators alike can use the “Three Es” to help the kids in their lives learn the critical social and emotional skills that they will need throughout their lives.

Modeling is one of the most powerful tools for teaching social and emotional coping skills. A powerful form of modeling takes place when our kids overhear us talking about our values. Young people are almost always more interested in what they overhear than what we provide in the form of a lecture. Kids can learn great lessons about coping with tough emotions, temptations, and conflicts by overhearing us verbalize positive self-talk.

Mistakes are priceless learning opportunities. When we err and experience not-so-pleasant results, we learn the importance of making better choices in the future. Learning self-control, empathy for others, decision-making, and other valuable social and emotional skills requires some humbling experiences and plenty of encouraging ones also.

Great parents and educators provide emotional support while allowing kids to blow it when the price tag is small. Few things build a greater sense of optimism and confidence than experiencing setbacks and overcoming them.

Empathy teaches empathy. When children see us using it with others, and experience it directly from us, they are far more likely to pass it on. Social and emotional success requires that children learn how to demonstrate empathy toward others as well as toward themselves.

What about a fourth E?
A fourth E could be explanation. Explanation is a skill that can be helpful under the right circumstances. Explaining is an important tool for teaching social, emotional and academic skills. It works well when we are calm, the child is calm, and we realize that it’s a relatively small part of the teaching process, particularly with challenging youth.

These are just some of the strategies that Love and Logic has shared over the years to help parents teach their kids the social and emotional skills they will need throughout their lives. 

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Building Grit Versus Stealing Grit

Grit is the ability to persevere in the face of challenges and difficulties and it is something that is learned primarily through experience. Love and Logic contrasts two very common parenting styles—Helicopter Parents and Drill Sergeant Parents. Both parenting types steal the opportunity for kids to develop grit through experience.

Helicopter parents steal this experience from their kids by protecting them from struggling with problems. Drill Sergeant parents also steal this experience through sending the message that their kids can’t think and do for themselves, so the parent must do this for them.

In contrast to these two parenting styles, Consultant parents (Love and Logic parents) allow kids to learn perseverance through experience. These parents know that experience and consequences do the best teaching, even though kids will be challenged in the short term.

True achievement comes through struggle and perseverance, which is the key to building grit. There is no doubt that kids who develop grit through experience will lead happier and more productive lives than those who don’t. Listed below are few “grit stealers” with corresponding “grit builders.”

Grit Stealer:  Micromanage or rescue your kids.
Grit Builder:  Allow your kids to make affordable mistakes and live with the consequences.

Grit Stealer:  Constantly tell them that they are bright, gifted, or exceptionally talented.
Grit Builder:  Celebrate effort, hard work, and perseverance.

Grit Stealer:  Immediately gratify their desires.
Grit Builder:  Let them wait for what they want.

Grit Stealer:  Talk badly about yourself.
Grit Builder:  Show your kids that you maintain a positive attitude when you make mistakes.

Grit Stealer:  Model perfectionism
Grit Builder:  Let them see you make mistakes.

Grit Stealer:  Try to always keep them happy. Give them the impression that life should never be upsetting or stressful.
Grit Builder:  Allow them to experience a natural and full range of emotions. Show that you care by expressing empathy.

Teaching perseverance isn’t complicated. It requires a willingness to allow kids to experience healthy challenges as they grow. It also requires that we let them to see that they have what it takes to cope with life’s challenges.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Don’t Set Too Many Limits

We have learned over the years that kids yearn for limits. Limits help them feel safe and secure. Limits say, “I love you enough to show you how to have a responsible and happy life.” Limits also say, “I love you enough to keep you safe.” In addition, limits help us take good care of ourselves as parents so that we can remain loving. They keep us from feeling like doormats and developing resentments.

If limits are so important, then why would we suggest that you don’t set too many limits? When we try to set too many limits over too many things, we spread ourselves thin and lack the time and energy to enforce them. Too many limits can create more stress in our lives and damage relationships with our kids.

Every limit we set, yet fail to enforce, erodes our relationship with our children.

Every limit set, yet not enforced, reduces our credibility in the eyes of our kids.

Yes! The stakes are very high. That is why Love and Logic teaches three essential rules for setting limits.

Rule One: Keep your limits simple and general.
Putting limits on your limits is far more effective than establishing so many limits that you can’t keep track of them. Many parents and educators have enjoyed great success by using just one generic limit in most situations: “I allow_____________ as long as it doesn’t cause a problem.”

Rule Two: Describe what you will do, rather than tell your kids what they must do.
When we tell someone what they must or must not do, we are trying to control something we cannot. This results in limits that are unenforceable.

When we describe what we will do or allow, we remain focused on what we can control and what we can enforce.

Rule Three: Never set a limit that you aren’t willing and able to enforce 200% of the time.
It only takes a slight bit of inconsistency on our part for our children to begin viewing us like slot machines. If their limit-testing pays off, even to the slightest degree, they begin to think, “Our parents enforce limits most of the time, but there is hope that if we just keep playing them, they’ll slip up and we’ll hit the jackpot.” Always enforce the limits that you set.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Helping Kids Learn Serendipitous Joy

The act of chasing joy is like chasing a fearful cat. The more we run after it, the more elusive it becomes. In contrast, the happiest times often pop up when we least expect them, often when we aren’t pursuing them.

According to most definitions, “serendipitous” refers to something positive that is discovered or experienced by chance.

How important is it that our children learn that true happiness and contentment are not found in the accumulation of material goods or exciting activities but are often found in seemingly chance experiences when they struggle with boredom and experience fulfilling relationships?

Years ago, I wasn’t thinking about this too deeply, but I wondered how nice it would be to have some quiet time with my son, Cody. “This will be great. Let’s have a technology-free weekend!”

He was less than impressed and complained, “Awe, Dad. No, this is going to be the worst.”

At first his forecast seemed spot-on. Clouds and high winds swirled around as he moped about the house, muttering, “Oh man, this is so boring.”

Searching for something to fill the time, I sat at the table reenacting an activity I’d learned from my grandmother, making a cabin out of wooden matchsticks, toothpicks, and school glue.

Bored stiff and still huffing and puffing, Cody sat by my side and began his construction project. Using a hot-glue gun instead of my slow-drying variety, he created an entire village, complete with livestock, before I’d finished the fourth wall of my first cabin.

His upset turned to elation as he shared his creation with his mother, posing for a photo with his masterpiece.

While joy does seem serendipitous, we can up the odds of experiencing it by creating more activities that allow us to relate to our kids without the distractions of technology or highly stimulating activities. What’s the tough part? It’s weathering the boredom storms before we can experience the rainbows.

Technology-free periods are just one way to address the problems that can arise with our kids and their technology use. 

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

The Power of Questions: How to Get Your Kids to Think

How can we make sure that our kids are doing their fair share of the thinking? How can we keep ourselves from getting pulled into working harder on their lives than they are? How can we help them prepare for a world full of decisions and consequences?

One simple technique is to replace statements with questions. Some of the most powerful moments come when we empower kids by asking them what they plan to do about various situations instead of telling them what they need to do. The implied message we send says, “You are smart. You can come up with the answer.”

Why do questions make our kids think? The answer is that questions divert the brain’s focus. When we are thinking in one direction, we can suddenly find our brain thinking in a totally different direction when hit with a question. Also, our brain has a hard time ignoring the questions it hears. It wants to search for the answers—it just can’t help itself.

Most things we say to our kids can be turned into a question, putting us in charge of the conversation as well as stimulating their brains to think. Here are some examples of changing orders or statements into questions:

Statement: “If you don’t do your homework, you’re going to get a bad grade.”
Question: “What kind of grade do you think you’ll get without doing your homework?”

Order: “Do not drive if you drink.”
Question: “What do you think will happen to your driving privileges if I start worrying about you drinking while driving?”

Order: “You guys better quit fighting over that remote control.”
Question: “Have you guys thought about what might happen to the remote if you keep fighting over it?”

Understanding how the brain works can help parents immensely as they use Love and Logic principles and techniques to raise their kids.

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