Love and Logic

Affordable versus Unaffordable Mistakes with Money

Current economic conditions are a concern for everyone. It’s a time when parents are watching household budgets closely and wanting their kids to do the same. Having been a kid during the Great Depression, I know how difficult it can be for families. Teaching kids the money management skills they will need later in life is the goal of many parents. How can Love and Logic parents teach kids fiscal responsibility?

Love and Logic teaches that kids learn best when they make mistakes—and they often make mistakes with money as they are growing up! We believe it is far better for kids to learn from poor monetary decisions when the price tag is relatively small and affordable, rather than when they are older and the financial consequences can be devastating. Below are contrasting situations with money at different stages of life—which situation prefer for your child?

  • Not having enough money to buy a toy car
  • Not having enough money to buy a real car
  • Defaulting on a family loan and having a bike repossessed
  • Defaulting on a bank loan and having a car repossessed
  • Saving money early and often
  • Saving money late and sporadically
  • Making financial restitution for unpaid bills to Mom and Dad
  • Making financial restitution to a credit card company or collection agency

Let’s consider the approaches to teaching kids about money from two sets of parents. One parent brags, “We follow all our lessons about money to the penny with our two children. They know not to spend any of their money without our presence and prior approval.” Another parent says, “What a great day! Kim forgot her lunch money today and had to beg off her friends. That’s the second time this week! With all these mistakes and consequences, she’ll have a Ph.D. in life by the time she graduates!” Which child will be better prepared for a financial life full of wise decisions? Our bet is on Kim.

Like Kim’s parents, we believe that parents should let kids experiment with money by:

  • Allowing kids to make mistakes and learn from them
  • Allowing kids to make their own earning, saving, borrowing, and spending decisions
  • Allowing kids the opportunity to make better choices, or not, and experience the financial consequences.

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

Jim Fay

Punishment or Logical, Natural Consequences?

Last week’s newsletter focused on how the Four Steps to Responsibility help kids learn how to make responsible decisions by experiencing the consequences of their decisions. Effective parenting techniques emphasize the importance of logical, natural consequences instead of punishment.

Although punishment sometimes results in quick behavior change, its side-effects far outweigh its benefits. These side effects include anger, resentment, revenge, avoidance, etc. Dishing out punishment with anger can make parents feel powerful and will give an illusion of control. Anger and punishment are counter-productive parenting techniques because they do not create an environment that allows children to learn from their mistakes.

So, how do you know if you’re using a logical consequence or a punishment with your child? The first step involves being honest with yourself as you ask the following questions:

  • Are you providing this discipline to help your child learn something that will help your child become a more responsible and happier individual?

  • Or are you doing this to show your child who is in charge or to teach a lesson so painful that the child will never forget?

Kids are amazingly good at detecting our unstated intentions or goals. If we say to a child, “I’ll take you the places you want to go when I feel respected,” and our true goal is to help them learn, this will come through in our voice and in our body language.

Kids learn best when they make mistakes and experience the logical, natural consequences of their mistakes. These are consequences that happen to the child in the normal course of events related to their behavior or actions. For example, a natural consequence is allowing a child a to go out into the cold without a jacket. It is difficult for parents to do this, but the natural consequences of being in the cold will do the teaching better than a lecture.

When allowing natural consequences, safety always comes first. Effective consequences cause inconvenience and discomfort—NOT PAIN. Consequences that create physical pain or danger usually backfire and cause children to lose trust with the adults.

A child who forgets or refuses to wear his coat outside can learn a lot from a few minutes of being cold. However, wise parents don’t put their child in danger by having him/her go for a long period of time in the cold. Use your common sense about this.

As always, remember that genuine, sincere expressions of empathy must precede the consequence. Lectures about how much the child should learn from his/her experience cancel out the benefit of the consequence. It’s best to keep the old mouth shut. No need to rub salt in the wound.

Charles and Jim Fay

Science at the Heart of Love and Logic

Experimentation is a hallmark of scientific investigation and has resulted in the development of many innovations from culinary concoctions to technological wonders. The paths to delicious recipes, miraculous medicines, and human habitation in outer space are all lined with the results of many experiments. Experimentation entails learning from the consequences of failures as well as successful outcomes.

Many parents find themselves stuck in a rut of many failed experiments based on anger, lectures, threats, and repeated warnings. The outcome is always the same and they wonder what they are doing wrong. When a child causes a problem, the Love and Logic approach is to hand the responsibility for the problem to the child empathetically and allow the consequences to do the teaching. In effect, the child then begins the experimental process of learning how to make good decisions.

Allowing children to learn through their mistakes is the most powerful way to teach them to make good decisions. When they make poor decisions and are responsible for the undesirable consequences, it’s best for parents not to emphasize what a poor decision they made. Instead, the parent creates an environment based on empathy and collaboration that encourages the child to think about what happened—a lot like a scientist interpreting the puzzling results of an experiment.

When children make good decisions and get desirable outcomes, their appropriate behavior is recognized, and they begin learning how to make good decisions. This kind of learning can only take place in a non-threatening environment, one without lectures and threats from an angry parent. An empathetic and mutually respectful relationship between the parent and the child is critical for creating this kind of learning environment.

Years ago, Love and Logic developed the Four Steps to Responsibility, which is a model of the experimental method designed for kids. The four steps are:

  • Give the child a task that you know they might not be able to handle.
  • Hope that the child fails at the task (this is the experiment that becomes the significant learning opportunity; parents should not interfere with the child’s efforts).
  • Allow the consequences to do the teaching (the consequences must be delivered with empathy).
  • Give the child the same task until the child gets it.

This sets up a “scientific process” for the child that allows experimentation and learning.

Dr. Charles Fay

Mental Hygiene Helps Parents Remain Calm

The First Rule of Love and Logic is that adults take good care of themselves by setting limits without anger, lectures, threats, or repeated warnings. This sounds like a wonderful rule in theory, but very often we find it difficult to avoid anger and associated behaviors when we are confronted with the many frustrating surprises of being a parent.

Avoiding anger, lectures, and other ineffective parenting practices is no simple task in today’s hectic world. Like many parents, you might find that your biggest challenge is keeping your cool when your kids are getting on your last nerve!

Why is it so important to remain as calm and collected as possible when we provide consequences for our children’s misbehavior? A very important reason is that it allows us to deliver the consequences with empathy.

When parents allow their anger to build inside, they become too angry to think straight and then they respond with the unhealthy habits of lectures, threats, nagging and repeated warnings. Fortunately, the following mental hygiene practices can help us remain calm.

Step #1: Create one calming self-statement.
Everyone needs a calming thought to carry with them as they navigate this not-so-calm world. Listed below are some examples:

  • Anger makes it worse.
  • Anger and frustration feed misbehavior.
  • Frustration fuels the fire.
  • Empathy instead of anger.
  • My kids will someday select my nursing home.

Step #2: Post your statement where you’ll see it often.
The more often you see your statement, the more likely it will pop into your head when your kids are getting on your last nerve. It’s great for them to see them it too!

Step #3: Visualize yourself staying calm and using your statement.
Each night as you are falling asleep, imagine yourself in a tough parenting situation with your children, and handling it without breaking a sweat!

Dr. Charles Fay

The Effects of Screen Time on Our Kids

In a recent blog post, Dr. Daniel Amen cited a study by the National Institutes of Health based on brain scans of 4,500 children. Children whose daily screen time exceeded 7 hours showed premature thinning of the brain’s cortex. He also referred to other studies showing that excessive screen time is associated with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

For years, Love and Logic has advocated limiting screen time for kids of all ages, and these studies support this approach. Although the basics of parenting remain the same, issues involving technology and screen time have left many parents wondering what limits are appropriate, how to hold their children accountable for misuse of technology, and how to help kids learn the decision-making skills required to make healthy technology choices when they leave home.

The following Love and Logic parenting principles can help parents limit screen time for their kids.

  • Kids need limits.
  • Limits are best set through actions instead of hollow threats.
  • When kids make poor decisions, they need to experience natural or logical consequences.
  • Consequences are always more effective when provided with loving empathy.
  • Our kids will learn how to live their lives by watching us.

Because limits are at the core of these principles, here are a few examples of essential limits:

  • You may have your tablet if there is no arguing when I ask you to shut it off.
  • Feel free to have a cell phone when you can pay for the entire cost.
  • We allow kids to have devices with access to the Internet if they check them in with us each night. We’ll return them in the morning if there are no problems.
  • I’ve met plenty of good people who’ve ended up doing bad things on the internet. That’s why your mom has all my passwords and is free to see my history. You may have this device if you do the same. Everyone needs someone to hold them accountable.
  • I’m shutting my phone off so that I can give you 100% of my attention. Thanks for doing the same.

Dr. Charles Fay

Don’t Give Your Kids the Message of Entitlement

Over the years, I’ve seen some friends and relatives who devoted their lives to protecting their children from inconvenience, discomfort, struggle, disappointment, embarrassment, and delayed gratification in any form. They sacrifice themselves, their own well-being, and even their financial security to provide for all the wants of their children. I’m sure you might have seen instances of parents who have almost driven themselves into financial ruin by continuing to protect their grown children from bad financial and personal decisions.

In my experience, this has never worked out in a positive way in the long term. In addition, I have never seen the offspring of these parents wake up and recognize that they, themselves, have become spoiled, self-centered, and need to change their ways.

Here is an example of a parent who apparently knew how to help her kids avoid entitlement, but eventually gave the wrong message to one of her kids. When I met this family, they appeared to have great teenagers. “Yes, they are,” she offered. “I worked hard with them when they were little, and it really paid off. They were expected to behave and act responsibly by helping with the family jobs. Now they are a joy.”

Unfortunately, the third child in the family was nothing like the older ones. With remorse, she told us that by the time her third child came along she was worn out. “I no longer had the energy, so my way was to just give him what he wants. I didn’t want the hassle.”

She went on to say that this was the worst mistake of her life. “He’s not like the other kids. He’s lazy and selfish. All he wants to do is watch TV and play video games. He’s never happy unless he gets his way.”

This parent had discovered how to create an entitled child who would probably never be happy. She had to decide whether to continue as she was or to start setting some limits so that he would grow up to be responsible. The good news is that it’s never too late to use the principles and techniques of Love and Logic.

We have developed several techniques that can help parents raise kids who grow into responsible and successful adults. For example, here are our Four Steps to Responsibility:

1. Give the child a task that you know that the child can handle.

2. Hope that the child fails at the task (this is the learning opportunity for the child).

3. Allow the consequences, delivered with empathy, to do the teaching.

4. Give the child the same task until the child learns to respond with responsibility and succeed at the task.

Using these four steps lays the foundation for responsible behavior, which is essential for avoiding entitlement.

Jim Fay

Is Love and Logic Helpful for Kids with ADHD?

We are often asked if Love and Logic can benefit kids with ADHD and, if so, how should Love and Logic be used when kids struggle with ADHD.

The basic techniques of Love and Logic can be used for children with ADHD. These kids have the same behaviors as kids who don’t have ADHD—they just display them far more frequently and intensely. For example, all kids fail to pay attention from time to time, forget what we ask them to do, argue, occasionally misbehave in impulsive ways, and experience bouts of excessive activity.

We have heard from parents over the years that Love and Logic techniques, which work with kids without ADHD, can also work for kids with ADHD. Because of the intensity of symptoms with ADHD, the key is to match the high frequency and intensity of their challenging behavior with a high frequency and intensity of Love and Logic techniques.

For example, is it fair to expect children with ADHD to do things like chores, get ready for school in the morning, and finish their homework without frequent reminders? We have learned that kids will need as many reminders as we give them to remember what they need to do. In other words, if we give kids frequent reminders, they will always need as many reminders as we give them, and they will not learn to be self-sufficient.

If we’re more interested in creating kids with the capacity to become self-sufficient and responsible for their behaviors, it’s much wiser to teach them “self-reminding” skills, and hold them accountable for using these skills, instead of constantly giving them reminders.

One way to help kids with ADHD to become self-sufficient is to teach them to use checklists. There are many ways to use checklists with kids. You can take pictures of your child completing the different tasks required to get ready in the morning and the child can learn to use these as guides to their routine.

Kids can also be taught to use a written list or date book, or they can use an electronic device to organize their lists. Giving kids these tools is far better than crippling a child with constant reminders, which will only create a life-long dependence on others to provide reminders.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Disciplining with Empathy: The Heart in Love and Logic

“Disciplining” can be a charged word. One dictionary definition characterizes it in terms of punishing or correcting. When we hear of someone disciplining a child, punishment often comes to mind.

Love and Logic looks at discipline from an entirely different point of view. The principles and techniques of Love and Logic are designed to transform adult-child interactions into a relationship based on mutual love and respect.

During the 1970s, my father, Jim Fay, and Dr. Foster Cline discovered that adults who provide a strong dose of empathy before delivering consequences enjoy far more success with kids than those who precede consequences with anger or sarcasm. At the heart of Love and Logic is empathy, which is the most important skill we teach. Without empathy, the techniques of Love and Logic do not work.

When we precede consequences with a sincere dose of compassion and concern, we increase the odds that the child will view their poor decision as the “bad guy” while continuing to perceive us as the “good guy.” When children experience our love and understanding, their hearts and brains become receptive to learning from their mistakes. If they experience coldness or anger, the odds go up that their brains will respond defensively, and they’ll become resentful and rebellious.

Although empathy is powerful, many of us struggle with applying it in consistent ways. Because I can relate to this from a personal perspective, I’ve spent the last two decades grappling with deep questions over why this is the case. Some of these challenges might have to do with forgetting to remember what empathy truly is and is not.

What is empathy? Empathy is about a sincere desire to understand another’s feelings. It’s not a flippant, “I know how you feel” or “I’m so sorry.” Empathy is an honest message of caring. It’s not about manipulating or instilling guilt.

Empathy is about maintaining emotional boundaries while showing concern. It’s not about making the other person’s problem our own. Empathy is about forgiving others and ourselves, and it’s not about trying to be perfect.

Empathy is embedded in the two simple rules of Love and Logic:

  • Adults set firm limits in loving ways without anger, lectures, threats, or repeated warnings.
  • When a child causes a problem, the adult hands it back in loving ways.

Dr. Charles Fay

Shaping Self-Concept

Over the past several decades, psychologists have placed huge emphasis on the importance of having a positive self-concept. Rightly so! How we feel about ourselves may be the single most important factor affecting how motivated we are to succeed in school, the types of friends we select, and whether we make responsible decisions in our lives.

Due to its undisputed importance, people have spent tremendous energy trying different approaches to give kids good self-concepts. Listed below are just a few of the many 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”

There’s only one approach that really works, 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. This love can be expressed daily by:

  • Allowing kids to wrestle with tying their shoes, instead of automatically jumping in and doing it for them.
  • Letting them dress themselves, even if the clothes they choose don’t match.
  • Teaching them how to talk to their teachers about problems at school, rather than always doing it for them.
  • Expecting that they speak up and order meals for themselves, instead of ordering for them.
  • Having them call the insurance company and arrange for their own car insurance, instead of doing it all for them.
  • Letting them do most of the work required to complete their college applications, rather than preparing all the paperwork for them.
  • Remembering that the more things they learn to do for themselves, the stronger and more confident they will become!

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Responding to Poor Grades

As the remainder of the school year unfolds, parents often start monitoring grades to ensure that their kids finish with great success. One of the most common questions I’m asked by parents and educators is how to respond to bad grades.

The first thing to remember is that responsibility for the child’s report card belongs to the child, not to us. Although it’s easy to get down on ourselves when kids perform poorly, it’s very important for our mental health, and for theirs, to remember the following points.

We can’t learn for kids.
As educators and parents, we can increase the odds of high achievement by modeling responsibility, establishing a safe and calm environment, providing excellent instruction, and demonstrating excitement for learning.

We can’t control every action they take or decision they make.
If we consistently demonstrate empathy rather than anger or frustration, the odds of our kids overcoming their difficulties dramatically increase. Is empathy really that powerful? Yes, indeed! In fact, a growing body of research is demonstrating that warmth (i.e., empathy) is strongly correlated with higher achievement and better behavior.

Many highly successful people struggled with grades as children.
It’s comforting to remember that some of the world’s most successful people have struggled with grades. Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Jim Fay, and Dr. Foster Cline are some notable examples. What’s most important is that our children develop good character, curiosity, and problem-solving skills.

Remember to respond with sincere love and concern.
Consider responding to bad grades by saying something like, “Oh man! I bet these grades are really disappointing for you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. The good news is that this doesn’t change the way I feel about you.”

Dr. Charles Fay

Looking Calm When We’re Not

The holidays are over, and a new year is ahead of us. If you think back over the past few weeks of the holiday season, do you remember times when you were not calm? Perhaps you even lost your temper with your kids? This is very common during the holiday season, but it can happen at any time. I know—it has happened to me!

What’s the biggest parenting challenge for you? If you’re like many parents, your biggest challenge is keeping cool when your kids are getting on your nerves! Why is it so important to at least look calm and collected as we provide consequences for our children’s misbehavior? Because, as Love and Logic teaches, empathetic responses are always more effective than angry responses.

Here are some examples of the differences between angry responses and empathetic responses.

Anger creates resentment and rebellion.
Empathy ups the odds of genuine remorse and responsibility.

Anger says, “I can barely handle you!”
Empathy communicates, “I’m a competent parent and can handle you without breaking a sweat!”

Anger creates kids who become sneaky and do irresponsible things behind our backs.
Empathy creates kids who are more likely to behave, even when we aren’t watching them.

When parents get into the unhealthy habit of nagging and repeating themselves, anger builds inside. By the time they finally follow through, they’re too angry to think straight! Wiser parents set limits and follow through quickly, without using too many words. Because problems are dealt with in their early stages, the parent remains calmer, and their kids learn that it’s not okay to perform “water torture” by constantly repeating the same frustrating behaviors.

Over the last 45 years, Love and Logic has developed simple techniques that can help parents keep calm and avoid angry responses toward their kids whenever stressful situations arise. One involves giving yourself permission to discipline your children without using reminders or repeated warnings. Another delays the consequences until parents are calmer and can respond rationally to their children’s behavior.

Dr. Charles Fay

Are You Preparing Your Kids for a World that Doesn’t Exist?

Is it okay to hold kids accountable for their misbehavior, or is this an archaic concept that no longer applies to raising kids? We at Love and Love have always taught the same thing: Hope and pray for affordable mistakes, provide a strong and sincere dose of loving empathy, and let logical or natural consequences do the teaching.

We provide unconditional love, dignity, and opportunities for kids to make small mistakes. That’s the “love” in Love and Logic. The “logic” develops inside the child’s heart and mind when they discover that the quality of one’s choices largely determines the quality of one’s life.

Do choices matter?
I remember the first time I heard how some think it is horrible and downright mean to upset our children by providing consequences. I was speaking at a seminar and a mother shared her confusion about a recommendation made by her sixteen-year-old daughter’s therapist.

Her daughter had been sending inappropriate images over her cellphone and the mother felt it was very important to take away her cellphone as a consequence. However, the therapist said that the parents were way off base—he told them that doing this would be too upsetting for our daughter.

Over the past few years, a strangely popular “no-consequences” movement has developed among many. They suggest that using consequences, even reasonable ones delivered with great love, is a big no-no. They seem to believe that if we just do a better job of loving kids and meeting their underlying emotional needs, there will be no need for consequences. Have you heard this, as well?

There’s some truth in what they say. Yes! Loving kids, building trusting relationships, and meeting needs is essential, and it does tend to cut down on the need for consequences. The downside of their rather extreme position is that the world is a consequential place.

It’s pay now or pay later.
We can either help our kids learn that choices matter when they are young and the consequences are small, or we can allow the world to teach this lesson when they are older, and the consequences are often tragic.

By the way, the mother in the example above took the cellphone away from her daughter. She told her daughter that she loved her and that she didn’t feel comfortable providing a phone when it was being used to do something inappropriate and dangerous. She explained to me that she took the phone away because she didn’t know how a person can raise a responsible child without having some accountability.

Dr. Charles Fay