Love and Logic

Guidelines for Helping Kids Cope with Uncertain Times

The global health crisis affects everyone in some way and parents all over the world are wondering, “What do I tell my kids about this? What do I do?”
 
Children have an incredible capacity for strength, and parents can play a powerful role in helping their children cope with these extraordinarily uncertain times. Here are some practical guidelines for helping you help your kids.
 
1. Be honest about your emotions while modelling strength
 
Because our children copy our behaviours, they will learn to respond in difficult situations only as well as we do. Children who see their parents become overwhelmed with anxiety, fear, and grief will also become overwhelmed. At the other end of the spectrum, parents who stuff their feelings inside will deprive their kids of the opportunity to learn healthy expression of feelings.
 
The key is being honest about your emotions while showing that your family remains strong. For example, you can hug your child and say:
 
This is a very sad time.
Sometimes I feel like crying about it and it also makes me a little afraid.
But I know that we will be okay…because we are strong.
 
2. Limit your children’s exposure to media coverage
 
Turn the television and radio off when your kids are in the room. Repeated exposure to visual and spoken images of a crisis can create more anxiety and fear. Younger children who don’t understand how to put media coverage in perspective can become overly concerned and frightened.
 
3. Give them the facts about the event
 
Don’t try to keep the current situation a secret! First, it’s simply impossible to do. Second, humans create information when they lack it. When children only get bits and pieces of bad news, they “fill in the blanks” with their imagination. Typically, their fears, or the rumours that they might hear from their friends, will produce more anxiety than hearing the truth.
 
Children, even children as young as two years old, may need you to lay out the facts about the event. Tell them the basics while leaving out more sensitive details. Remember, your tone of voice must communicate compassion as well as strength.
 
4. Listen, listen, listen
 
There is nothing more powerful for comforting a child than an open ear, heartfelt understanding, and a warm hug from a parent.
 
5. Let them know that they are safe
 
Our children need to hear about the thousands and thousands of wonderful people who are working day and night to keep us safe and healthy. Despite any fears or doubts that we might have, our kids need to hear and feel that they are safe.
 
Make your reassurances short and to the point. When parents spend too much time, say too many words, or exhibit too many emotions trying to reassure kids that they are safe, then the message can backfire. Your message will be more powerful and believable if it is very brief and to the point.
 
There are thousands of people working to keep everyone safe and healthy. We are going to be okay.
Have a good day with your schoolwork. I love you.
 
6. To the greatest extent possible, maintain daily routines
 
Daily routines give all of us a sense of predictability, control, and safety. When we stick to them, we also communicate with our youngsters that we are strong enough to keep going—and they are too!
 
7. Involve them in helping others
 
There are few things more therapeutic than helping others. Even actions that may seem small, like writing letters of support or sending a box of food to healthcare workers, can mean a great deal.
 
An elementary school principal who followed these tips voiced amazement at how they work. “I can’t believe how well our students are dealing with the crisis. The teachers were calm and so were the kids. Everyone is very concerned, but we are going to make it through!”
 
One last thought—following these guidelines can help, but it is just as important to take good care of yourself. The healthier you are, the healthier your kids will be.
 
Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Empathy is Messy

Those who understand Love and Logic know that sincere empathy is the cornerstone upon which the entire house is built. It’s the gift that allows our children to learn wisdom from life’s trials and tribulations, rather than developing discouragement and resentment.
 
Empathy demonstrates love. Love provides hope.
 
Hope provides the motivation our kids need to choose what’s
healthy rather than destructive.
 
For forty years, the Love and Logic message has remained the same:
 

  • Hope and pray that your kids make plenty of affordable mistakes when they are young.
  • Hold them accountable for these mistakes with sincere empathy.
  • Do this so they can learn when the “price tags” are still small.

Many parents comment, “Empathy is the hardest part! Too often my own frustration and anger get in the way.”
 
Providing empathy requires that we tolerate messiness rather than trying to create a sanitary life for our kids.
 
In my book, Parenting for Success, I discuss why messiness is necessary for developing the attitudes and skills required for adult success.
 
Deep in our parental hearts is the wishful dream that our children will enjoy a fairytale life where all issues are resolved cleanly and they live happily ever after. Ironically, this well-intentioned urge often makes it harder for us to provide empathy when our kids need it the most.
 
Lectures, threats, frustration, and anger provide an illusion
of control, a fleeting sense that we’re getting something done.
 
Empathy requires a strong conviction that we cannot fix others, but that life’s challenges are gifts that build maturity.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Stubborn Kids: An Absolutely Essential Skill

Scientists call it serendipity. It’s when you learn something really good “on accident.”
 
I received some of this wonderful stuff from an incredibly defiant, and oftentimes violent, teen whom I met while working in psychiatric care. During one of my not-so-brilliant moments, I approached him and proceeded to give him “the business” about refusing to pick up his tray after lunch. I figured this was a “hill to die on.”
 
He provided an intensive, yet very effective, continuing professional development opportunity. He hit me… right upside the jaw.
 
From this wonderful experience I learned to do three things:

  •  Approach slowly, as if you haven’t a single care in the world.
  • Ask nicely, “Will you ______________, just for me? Thanks!”
  • Act cool, turn tail, and slowly walk away.

Research has demonstrated that the odds of getting into
a nasty power-struggle with a kid dramatically decrease
when we’re no longer around them.
 
The true science has to do with expectations and the fact that people will live up to—or down to—the ones we communicate. What expectation do we send when we ask someone to do something and stare their way? The message is clear: “You’re not going to do this for me.”
 
In contrast, what expectation is sent when we make the very same request, yet move away? The message is far more positive: “This is a win-win situation. I know you’ll help me out.”
 
Caution! From stubborn kids you’ll likely hear, “You can’t make me” or “I’m not doing it.” Don’t take the bait. Just keep moving away. I’ve often giggled to myself upon hearing such protests and discovering the child doing exactly what they vehemently claimed they wouldn’t.

Dr. Charles Fay

Growing Toward What We Want to Become

I blew it. Impatient with some small mistake my thirteen-year-old had made, I barked, “Why don’t you just do it this way, instead? That’s not going to work.”
 
“Dad,” he complained, “I can do this myself.”
 
His irritation came to me as a surprise, but it shouldn’t have. Whining, I snipped, “Well, I was just trying to help.”
 
He continued, “Dad, I can figure this out myself!”
 
My frustration soon turned to remorse. I’d just violated all Five Principles of Love and Logic:

  • Mutual Dignity
    “Why don’t you just do it this way, instead? That’s not going to work,” is not a good way of demonstrating respect and dignity. Silence, coupled with a loving pat on the back, would have been a far better approach.
  • Shared Thinking
    When we become the “experts,” it rarely brings the best out of people. When we allow others to think and solve their problems, we show that we believe in their abilities.
  • Shared Control
    Asking, “Would you like to hear what some people decide to do?” shares healthy control. Doing so also opens their willingness to learn from our guidance. Respect is earned by providing supportive suggestions—not by trying to micromanage.
  • Sincere Empathy
    The real “solution” involves love—not lectures. It involves recognizing feelings—not providing fixes.
  • Loving Relationships
    This fifth principle of Love and Logic plays out as a natural result of our living by the first four.

Fortunately, none of us are perfect, and none of us need to be. Admitting our mistakes, apologizing, and making improvements are all part of healthy parenting. Our children’s respect is earned when they see us growing toward what we want to become—not from them observing us pretending to be someone we aren’t.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

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

This big question dwells heavily on the hearts of countless parents, and the answers often seem confusing and elusive. After over a quarter-century of studying research, working with families, and being humbled by my own children, I’ve learned many things the hard way.
 
I’d like to share one of these things in a story about a rebellious and unhappy son. Let’s call him Ethan. He and his parents represent thousands I’ve met.
 
Ethan’s parents were growing more exhausted by the day. He’d developed a nasty habit of making nasty comments about everything they said. Chores were not getting done, homework was suffering, and he complained incessantly about his deplorable living conditions. The Wi-Fi was too slow, his phone was too old, and the parents of his friends were far more understanding and compassionate.
 
Ethan’s parents were baffled. Being kind and conscientious, they tried even harder to provide a consistently comfortable and love-filled daily experience for Ethan. Fretting, they wondered, “What else can we do? Our son is so unhappy and disrespectful, and disobedient! What can we do to improve our relationship?”
 
A friend of many years shared some wisdom:
 
“He’s acting this way because he sees you as weak.
He doesn’t respect you because you don’t expect anything of him.”
 
Though provided out of love, their friend’s remarks stung. As their pain subsided, mom and dad began to see the truth in it. As a result, they set a strong limit over what they would provide and under what circumstances:
 
“We are happy to do and provide extra things for you
when we feel respected and you are completing your chores.”
 
As you can imagine, Ethan’s initial reaction was not positive. As days passed, though, Ethan’s parents were surprised to see a happier and more respectful kid. They remarked, “It’s true! Kids do need, and want, the loving leadership of limits.”
 
Have you seen this story unfold in your life? Have you witnessed a friend who discovered that avoiding conflict with their child was merely creating more of it?
 
Dr. Charles Fay

When Young Children Act Out: Three Simple Solutions

“It feels like complete chaos!” one mother shared, “Just as I think there’s a break in the action, one of them hits the other, one’s trying to ride the dog, and another is screeching at the top of her lungs.”
 
Parenting little ones is not for the faint of heart. That’s why it’s important to keep our approach simple, action-oriented, and consistent.
 
Simple strategies are almost always more effective than complicated ones. Much of the time parents of young children can rely on just three practical responses to problem behaviors. Whether the infraction involves hitting, biting, screaming, grabbing, trying to escape from the store, running in the parking lot, or any other unwelcome behavior, we can fall back on doing one of three things:

  1. Change our location
  2. Change the location of the problem object
  3. Change the child’s location 

Action-oriented strategies involve calmly doing things rather than saying things. This means that we change our location—walking away from a child who is screaming, trying to rip the pages of a book we are reading them, or hitting us. Doing this we clearly communicate that gaining our attention is best achieved through kinder behavior.
 
Sometimes this means changing the location of a problem object, calmly removing something they are misusing or fighting over.
 
Other times we calmly change their location, buckle them into their stroller, place them in their playpen, or expect them to remain in their room until they can act civil.
 
Consistent means that we quickly yet calmly take action, each and every time there’s a problem. Overthinking their misbehavior and how we should respond contributes to delay and indecisiveness. Delay and indecisiveness create more conflict and chaos.
 
When a nasty behavior emerges, great parents move quickly, confidently, and compassionately. It’s not about being mean. It’s about proving to our little ones that we are more than capable of providing the leadership they need.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

A Strong and Loving Father

I can’t resist the urge to brag about my Dad, Jim Fay. Growing up, my sisters and I quickly learned that he meant business. We learned that his word was always gold. We learned that the quality of our young lives was far improved when we obeyed. We learned that he was strong and not to be messed with.
 
We learned many other things about our Dad through the years.
 
We learned that he loved us no matter what. We knew that we were forgiven even before we did something that needed forgiveness. We knew that he always saw the best in us. We saw him loving our Mom. We even saw him loving every stray and stinky dog that wandered his way!
 
My Dad has always been the strongest and
most loving man in my life.
 
Speaking of his love for us and his love for dogs, I’ll never forget how my beloved furry pal was accidentally killed by trying to herd our neighbour’s Saab. I was nine. I was devastated. My Dad was devastated. We cried together as he held me in his strong yet loving arms. He reminded me that he loved me, and he also reminded me that I had made an obligation to entertain seniors by playing my trombone at the Elks Lodge that afternoon. I cried all the way to my performance… but I completed it!
 
Many important lessons were learned that tough afternoon. I learned that my Dad really loved me and was sad for me and my canine buddy. I learned that I was strong enough to move on with life even when I didn’t think I could. I learned that somehow it makes things feel a little bit better when we do things for others. I’m reminded of a quote from our book, Love and Logicisms:
 
Without saying a word, we constantly show our kids what we believe they can be. They will either live up to our highest expectations… or down to our greatest fears.
 
Strong and loving dads help children grow to become strong and loving adults.
 
Happy Father’s Day!
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Allowance: How Early and How

Love and Logic rests on a small number of primary truths. One of these goes as follows:
 
The price tag of our mistakes goes up every day—it suffers from inflation.
 
Since errors are great opportunities for learning, shouldn’t we hope that most of these happen when our children are younger and the consequences are smaller?
 
Therefore, provide an allowance to help your kids learn money management skills. Start this as early in their lives as possible. If they are already teens, it’s not too late to start. Here are some tips.
 
Provide a limited amount of currency each week.
 
With kids age five or older, money works fine. Younger ones often respond better to treats. As we know, cookies, or some other tasty items, can be highly motivational.
 
The amount should be “not enough.”
 
That’s right, not enough. Start with such a small amount that your kids might even respond, “But that’s not enough.” Having “not enough” leaves room for them desiring to earn more. Provide some options for doing so, such as, “Some kids decide to earn more by doing _________.” The options you provide should not involve their daily chores. These they must do as part of the family, not as hired hands. Extra chores, or jobs done for friends, relatives, or neighbors, are best.
 
Ultimately, the amount we provide will depend on our own finances, the costs of goods and services in our area, and other factors. This is why “not enough” is our suggestion, rather than some specific dollar amount.
 
Hope they blow it.
 
This means truly allowing them to burn through their funds in any way they desire. When we make the mistake of trying to ensure sound financial decisions when they are young, we run the risk of them failing to learn how to make them when they are adults.
 
Provide empathy and allow them to live with the consequences.
 
Empathy opens the heart and the mind to learning. It allows them to see their own financial decisions as the source of their unhappiness, rather than viewing us as the cause of their problem. We might say, “I can’t imagine how sad it must be to run out of cookies before allowance day. The good news is that there will be five more come Friday.”
 
The basics of money management are learned through experimentation. Again, when is it best for our children to do this?
 
The likelihood of them making wise fiscal decisions also hinges on what we model. Are we clear on what we really need, or are we too frequently getting this confused with what we want? We provide a great gift to our kids—one that will last a lifetime—when we show them how to make wise choices while allowing them to learn from their poor ones.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Teaching Kids to be Thoughtful of Others

Abby, a friend of mine, asked me if other parents are getting as frustrated as she is. Her teenaged son appears to have forgotten that other people actually live in their house too. He repeatedly turns the volume way up on his device without considering if it will bother those around him and he often leaves messes wherever he goes.
 
She knows that the Love and Logic® approach encourages parents to resist the temptation to nag. “But what can I do about this?” she pleaded.
 
She’s not alone, is she? Many of us have probably experienced kids getting cranky when they are asked to get off a video game or clean up after themselves. Or, when we ask them why they downed the last of the _____ that was meant for the whole family!
 
So how do we get kids to be more considerate of others?
 
Like so many things, it starts with us. Here are a few suggestions for how we can be intentional about helping our young ones improve their thoughtfulness of others.

  1. Slow down before speaking
    That’s right. We say fewer things that we regret when we carefully consider words before they leave our mouth. We do this for ourselves AND we do it to set a powerful example.
  2. Model thoughtfulness
    You are probably more thoughtful than your kids, but are you intentionally showing them acts of thoughtfulness such as letting others go first or asking, “Will this bother anybody if I …?”
  3. Notice and celebrate thoughtfulness
    When you see thoughtful behavior, describe it in specific terms and celebrate out loud (without going over the top and embarrassing them). Be proactive by setting out to find even tiny moments of politeness.
  4. Talk to kids about problems when there aren’t problems
    Many parents tell us that having a calm conversation removed from the rude incident is much more effective than jumping on the behavior with wrath in the moment. Catch them later, when brains are calm and defenses are down, and ask them, “Have you noticed that when you play your music too loud, it bothers other people in the house?”
  5. Sometimes they need a logical consequence
    We list this last for a reason. It’s possible Abby will actually need to provide a delayed consequence, such as, “This is sad. You finished off the cookies without saving any for your dad. Be thinking about how you can make that up to him.” It is highly effective when consequences require kids to solve the problems that they caused. 

It can be challenging to be around people we love for extended periods without many breaks. It can also be a good time for kids to learn how to be more thoughtful and considerate. Working on these skills now will pay off later – even when they are away from us and are around other people.

Jedd Hafer

Trusting Our First Thought to Say “No”

"I feel so inadequate as a parent” one mother lamented. My son begs to do things that I just don't feel good about. Sometimes I can't explain exactly why I feel uncomfortable about him doing them, but my first thought is to say “no.” When I try to explain my reasons, he keeps demanding an explanation. The other day he was begging to watch a movie online. I couldn't explain why I thought it wasn’t appropriate, but he just kept pestering and complaining. Finally, he got mad and yelled, ‘This is stupid! You always make up rules, but you don’t even have a reason for them.’”
 
With much embarrassment, she admitted, “I gave in. Then I hated myself for doing so.“
 
Sometimes we as parents simply get a feeling about something. Much of the time this feeling is based on many years of experience and maturity. Rather than trying to provide a brilliant rationale, we might reply with empathy and honesty:
 
I’m really not sure why I feel the way I do about this, but I’ve learned to trust these feelings. I will be happy to listen to your thoughts about this, as long as your voice sounds calm like mine.
 
This won’t satisfy the average child, but it is honest and respectful and will reduce the odds that we’ll wear out, give in, or erupt with anger.
 
If they continue to argue or manipulate, we can calmly repeat this question:
 
And… what did I say?
 
I’ve often heard parents say, “I wish I would have trusted my gut. I wish I would have held firm.”
 
It’s always wise to err on the side of caution. It’s also smart to model that skill for our kids.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

Listening Means Love

How do wise parents and educators respond when kids try to argue and manipulate? Their most effective responses are one-liners such as, “I love/respect you too much to argue,” or “I know,” or “What did I say?” They also resist the urge to think too deeply about what the child is saying..
 
Do we do this when kids are hurting? Do we employ this strategy when they’re respectfully expressing their opinions? No! We listen.
 
When I ask people to describe the parents and teachers they respected the most as kids, they almost always mention something like, “They were always there to listen.”
 
Listening means love. It means that we sincerely

care about others’ opinions and emotions.
 
Here’s the problem—many of us have a hard time listening when someone around us is emotional or is disagreeing with us. That’s why it’s helpful to have a few sincere statements or questions in our back pockets.

  • Tell me more.
  • Help me understand.
  • What would you like to see here?
  • How long have you felt this way? 

The next time one of your kids expresses their opinion… or their hurt… be sure to lend a sincere and empathetic ear, showing loving interest by using the points above. Remember—the more you listen to them, the more likely they’ll listen to you. If the tone turns disrespectful or manipulative, you can always switch gears and repeat, “I love/respect you too much to argue,” or “I’ll listen when your voice sounds calm like mine.”
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Perfectionism: A Parable

Perfectionism is debilitating. It’s about setting unrealistic standards for yourself. It’s about having no relief from worry over making mistakes. It’s about never feeling that you measure up. It’s about constant stress.
 
In today’s digital world, perfectionism can reach epic proportions when we fall into the trap of comparing our lives with the online lives of others. How can we help our kids understand the perils of slipping into this unhealthy habit?
 
One option involves storytelling. Stories stick in the mind but parables penetrate the heart. Here’s a parable you might share with your child…your teen…or yourself:
 
Two Sets of Glasses
 
Two gentlemen were lifelong friends. Both were having a hard time seeing because both were well along in years.
 
Although he had the money to buy a fine set of glasses, one man opted to spend the cash on something more fun and exciting. Still struggling with his vision, though, he found an inexpensive set of used glasses at a local thrift store.
 
His friend, in contrast, spent his money on an eye exam and a new pair of glasses that fit his specific prescription.
 
Two Views of Others and Ourselves
 
What the first man didn’t know was that the glasses he purchased at the thrift store were more than they seemed. They held special powers. Wearing them, he was amazed by how good his friends looked. Everything they did and everything they had were amazing. All looked new and sparkling until he arrived home to see his small hut in shambles. His possessions were worn and dirty, and his image in the mirror hideous. He thought, “Nothing I do…and nothing I have measures up.”
 
The second man was also amazed by what he saw through his glasses. “It’s so great to see my friends more clearly.” He thought, “These glasses cost me something, but now I can now see clearly.” As he walked about the village and came to his home, he thought, “Everyone I know is more or less like me. There are parts of their lives that seem happy and others that seem sad. These good glasses help me see that we are human…that none of us are perfect. All of us struggle.”
 
The Truth
 
Being kind to himself and others, the second man said to the first, “Try on my glasses. Maybe they will give you a more accurate view.”
 
The first man agreed, and he immediately saw the difference. “When I see the truth,” he said to his friend, "I see that we are all wonderful messes!” As these words came out of his mouth, the weight of the world lifted from his shoulders.
 
Some questions
 
Which set of glasses caused pain and sorrow to the wearer?
 
When we compare ourselves with others, which set of glasses are we using?
 
When we only know people through digital devices, which set of glasses do we wear?
 
Is it safe to wear glasses that cloud the truth?
 
Which set will you choose to wear?

Dr. Charles Fay

Asking for Help

As loving, involved parents and educators, do we often have difficulty watching young people struggle? Is it tempting to jump in and help? Do we ever do so before allowing them to ask us for help first?
 
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you’re our favorite type of person. You’re someone with a big heart.
 
Kids need plenty of big-hearted adults in their lives. They also need us to step back occasionally and avoid helping until they ask for it.
 
Asking for help teaches humility.
 
A humble attitude is one of the greatest assets we can nurture in children. Truly humble people understand that success with any challenging endeavor requires making mistakes, admitting them, and then requesting help. Pride can be a hard pill to swallow, but swallowing our pride and asking for help always leads to a better life.
 
Asking for help teaches bravery.
 
Too many children develop the bad habit of displaying helpless looks so that adults will jump through hoops to help them. This passive, yet ultimately manipulative tactic, will not take them far as they enter adulthood. Asking for help is scary for many children but learning to overcome this fear and ask for help is extremely valuable. When they take this healthy risk, they have an opportunity to learn how to get their needs met in more assertive ways.
 
Asking for help is a great social skill.
 
People like people who help them feel smart. When our kids learn to ask others for their input, they learn to build healthy relationships. Nobody likes to be around someone who acts like they have all of the answers.
 
A mother at one of my recent conferences commented, “Now that I wait for my daughter to ask for help, it’s really cut down on the power struggles. What I didn’t realize was that providing help—before she asked for it—was really communicating that I didn’t believe in her abilities. Now she’s happier and so am I!”
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Giving Our Kids Hope During Tough Times

“Mommy! Look at me!”
 
“Daddy! Look at me!”
 
We’ve all heard this from our kids. We’ve also seen how their faces brighten when we stop what we are doing to notice their interests, unique gifts, or accomplishments. Built into our DNA is strong desire…a strong need…to be noticed.
 
Being noticed means that others enjoy us.
 
Being noticed means that we are valuable and loved.
 
Being noticed provides hope…even in the midst of very tough times.

Do this at least twice a week: Say, “I notice that you___________."

  • “I notice that you like to play with your cars. I noticed that.”
  • “I notice that you like to talk on the phone with your friends.”
  • “I notice that you keep your car really clean.”
  • “I notice that you like to make things with wood.”  

Examples include:

Warning—this can feel weird, particularly to teens who feel obligated to act cool or aloof. That’s okay. If you hear something like, “You are being so weird.” Just smile and reply, “I know,” and give them some space. It will work anyway.
 
When our kids act like they don’t like being
noticed, it usually means that they need it all the more.
 
During tough times…like our world is experiencing right now…receiving the reassurance of being noticed goes a long way toward helping our kids cope. It decreases the odds that they will feel compelled to act out in order to gain our attention.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

Doing School at Home

Now that schools have closed due to the Coronavirus outbreak, how can parents best help their children learn and complete work while avoiding counterproductive power struggles?
 
Much of the answer involves sharing control within the boundaries of firm yet loving limits. It’s an old concept made even more relevant by the current situation. Most of us feel that our lives have been turned upside down. We’re experiencing little or no control over so many things.
 
Do we all yearn for control? What happens when we feel like we’ve lost it?
 
Obviously our kids are also experiencing many difficult feelings, including a sense of losing much of their freedom. That’s why small choices around schoolwork represent one of the most powerful ways of minimizing the chaos during these already difficult times. Listed below are some examples. Please remember that the choices you provide will depend on your unique situation and value system.

  • Will you be starting your schoolwork now or in five minutes?
  • What do you want to start with? Math or reading?
  • Do you want to make a goal of working for 30 minutes before your break, or would 25 minutes be better?
  • Will you be doing your work while sitting or standing?
  • Do you think it would be best to draft something on pencil or paper… or begin your work directly on the computer?
  • Would you like my help or would you prefer working alone?
  • Do you want to learn in the kitchen or in the family room?
  • Will you be working while keeping your body still, or would you rather see how much you can wiggle while still getting it done?
  • Should we start with the hardest part first or the easiest?
  • Would you rather help me with chores or get started on your schoolwork?

Give most of your choices before your child becomes resistant… not after. 
The key to success with this technique involves remembering three things:

  1. With each choice provide two options, each of which you like.
  2. Be prepared to choose for your child if they don’t select an option you provided. 

While these ideas can’t solve all of the parenting challenges we face right now, they’ll increase the odds of getting through each day with fewer power struggles.
 
Thanks for reading. Thanks also for all of your support during these challenging times!
 
Dr. Charles Fay

A Parent Frightened by Her Own Anger

Tears gushed out of her eyes as she made her painful admission:

"I was so angry that I wanted to scream. In fact, I did. I screamed at my three-year-old! I knew it was wrong… which made me feel even more out of control. I was so mad that I almost slapped her. Driving home from the store, I felt more and more guilty and afraid. ‘What if she makes me so mad that I really lose it?’ I wondered. ‘Maybe I don’t have what it takes to be a parent.’"

Have you ever found yourself in this spot? I have. Is there anything more humbling than raising kids? That’s why I often admit to my audiences, “I used to be a parenting expert. That is until I had children.”
 
Fortunately, there’s at least three pieces of good news for imperfect people like us trying to raise good kids:
 
It’s okay to delay the consequence… or even our reaction.
 
I often wonder how many cases of serious child abuse have been at least partially caused by parents hearing that “consequences must always come immediately.” Even parents with toddler-aged tykes have commented, “It’s such a relief to know that I can take some time to get calmed down before I deal with a situation.”
 
Does it take some pressure off to know that you can say the following?

Ohhhhhhhh, I’m going to have to do something about that but not now… later. 

From Love and Logic, I learned that I’m not crazy just because I sometimes get mad at my kids. I learned to use my thoughts and feelings of anger as a signal to say to myself, “sad rather than mad… sad rather than mad… sad rather than mad.” I still get angry sometimes, but I’m learning to more frequently come across with empathy instead of anger.
It’s okay to feel anger. It can remind us to be “sad rather than mad.”
 
The mom above shared how she learned a powerful mental tool for turning her anger into a helpful reminder.

It’s okay to take care of ourselves by setting limits.
 
For at least three decades, a myth has pervaded the culture of American parenting: It’s a parent’s job to make sure their children are always comfortable and happy. Because of this lie, many well-meaning parents are trying to do the exhausting job of raising kids with an empty emotional gas tank. It really is okay to say to our kids:

I love you… and I’ll be willing to do_______________ when I see that you are acting sweet. 

Dr. Charles Fay

Kids at Home All Day Long

With the kids home all day now might be a good time to take a tip from the best teachers.
 
I have been working with teachers for over 65 years. I've learned from them, I've supervised them, I've observed them as a consultant, and I've noticed that they all have one thing in common.
 
What is that? It's routines.
 
The best-run classrooms depend on routines. These teachers start the year establishing routines that include how we greet each other in the morning, where we put our stuff, how we move from one place to the other, how we take out our books and materials, how we put them away and clean up, how we line up, how we ask questions, etc. They lock these routines in with practice.
 
These teachers know that the more routines the class has, the fewer discipline problems they will have to deal with. Kids feel safer, calmer and are more focused, and as a result, there is more time spent on the learning and less time spent dealing with problems.
 
Do yourself a favour during these trying times. Establish and maintain routines for the home. Set time schedules regarding getting up, dressing, eating, learning time, snack time, TV and screen time, chores, fun, play, and exercise. And, of course, bedtime. Be sure to include age-appropriate breaks from online learning and plenty of family relaxing. These are tough times.
 
You'll be surprised. Your kids can handle this. They will thrive on it. Many parents discover that they tend to expect much less of kids than what they can really handle. But, expect that they may rebel for a short time. That will go away if you consistently hold them to the routines and schedules.
 
It's important to remember that this works best when we involve the kids in setting these schedules. Sit with them, plan it out, and negotiate this together.
 
This usually fails and households become war zones when the parents simply announce, "There are going to be some new rules around here." I know it's tempting, but don't fall into that trap.
 
It's very possible that you may all look back on these times as something that tightened the love and bonding in your family.
 
Jim Fay

Use This Time to Teach Some Life Skills

“By the time my kids return to school, they will know how to prepare more complex meals, jump-start a dead battery, pay bills, and sew buttons back on their clothes.” - A Love and Logic Dad
 
Many families are experiencing a time with kids who are home from school for extended periods. There are, of course, positives and negatives to this.
 
Some good news—just because conventional school is 'different at the moment', it doesn’t mean that learning must stop. We have heard from some of our wonderful Love and Logic parents that they are having great results using this time to teach some practical life skills. What a great time for kids to get hands-on learning of tasks like cooking, changing a tire, doing laundry, banking, sewing, creating a resume, or playing a musical instrument!
 
What would happen if more young people emerged from this time feeling more capable and less dependent on adults? How many more kids could emerge from this time with great new skills that will serve them throughout life?
 
How might we identify good skills to work on during this time? Some parents take a look at things they WISH their kids knew how to do for themselves, depending on their kids’ age and developmental level. They also look at tasks that might benefit the family or community while considering each kid’s individual strengths and interests. One other guide to finding some good candidates for teaching skills—situations that kids might get into where skills are needed such as changing a flat tire or jump-starting a dead battery.
 
You know how to do all kinds of really cool stuff. Hopefully, you will get a chance during this time to share some of these practical life skills with the upcoming generation. Perhaps, in return, kids will teach the adults some new things as well.
 
We certainly don’t mean to minimize the difficulty of this time for many people. However, we do believe in turning adversity to advantage. It is our sincere hope that you and the ones you love will be able to use this time to connect and to teach each other. Like generations before us, we may look back on these difficult days as cherished times of togetherness, resilience, and growth.
 
Jedd Hafer

There is Hope!

“He’s vaping, and it doesn’t matter what I tell him about the risks.”
 
“She’s cutting herself and doesn’t seem to care about anything.”
 
“I was shocked by the number of references to suicide I discovered
when I looked at what his friends were writing about online.”
 
“Bad grades don’t seem to bother him.
He isn’t motivated by consequences or rewards.”
 
“I’m afraid of everything that’s going on right now.
Will things ever be normal again?”
 
More than ever I hear things like these. I also hear how exhausted and overwhelmed many people feel. The weight of these complex problems is immense and heartbreaking; so great that it can push even the most intelligent and resourceful adult to their limit.
 
Love and Logic is not a substitute for professional help, and it’s certainly not a quick fix or cure-all. It provides, however, practical, actionable steps that can move us in the direction of hope. Hope in this world—distilled to its simplest form—is found when we focus on three things:
 

  • Building and enjoying authentic relationships
  • Setting healthy limits with others and ourselves
  • Experiencing successes by helping others

 
Does this sound like an oversimplification? Yes, but are there times when problems feel so daunting that we need permission to target a small number of things? Are there times when we need to find some relief even in the midst of sorrow or fear?
 
Hope is within reach if we focus on doing tangible things like smiling, providing encouragement by noticing something positive about someone, showing that we care enough to set limits, or helping kids see that they are capable of doing good in this world. Hope—and the possibilities it illuminates—gives youth a reason to stop vaping, cease self-harm, choose life, and care about their futures. For all of us it provides some much-needed relief when times get tough.
 
Hope is the only cure for the deepest and most complex social and emotional problems we face. Hope is found in faith, but it’s also found in action. As our families and our world face greater and greater challenges, does it become even more important to find the peace it provides?

 
Dr. Charles Fay

We Wish Kids Would Always Be Kind

In Love and Logic, we often separate the things we CAN control from the things we WISH we could control. A giant wish shared by many educators and parents is that kids will always be kind to one another. Cruel comments and malicious teasing can be devastating.
 
Sadly, our wish that kids will always be kind has to do with something beyond our direct control–the behavior of others. The good news is that we CAN control our own actions by:

  1. Intentionally modeling kindness
    We can make sure that kids see us regularly displaying kindness toward others. Our example is a powerful force.
  2. Intentionally noticing and celebrating kindness
    We can watch for, and celebrate, acts of kindness we see from kids. We can raise the odds of kindness by noticing even small acts of kindness and then celebrating them without causing embarrassment.
  3. Providing healthy outlets
    Some kids mistreat their peers and stir up conflict out of sheer boredom. We can make sure that kids have plenty to do, including outlets for their creativity, energy, and desire to play.
  4. Controlling kids’ access to one another
    When kids are mean to others, we might be able to limit their access to peers (in-person or online). “We want you out here playing with the other kids – as long as we don’t have to worry about them being pushed around and called names.”
  5. Providing consequences for unkind behavior
    We can expect kids to solve problems (and, hopefully, restore relationships) using restitution. In many cases, kind gestures that benefit the family/community or the offended party can create win-win scenarios. 

It is a noble wish that kids will be kind to one another. We know that this wish will not always come true, but focusing on what we can control will raise the odds of kindness all around.
 
Jedd Hafer

Preserving Our Kids' Dignity

You’ve probably seen stories or videos like this—a child is wearing a sign around his or her neck stating, “I stole from this store,” or a parent is video-recording their child performing some task as a punishment while the parent gloats about the lesson that their kid is learning.
 
When these things circulate on the Internet, we are often asked, “Is that Love and Logic?” Or even worse, some people might declare, “This is a great example of Love and Logic!” Not so much.
 
The Love and Logic philosophy is based on a few core principles and the first is Preserve the Dignity. We always strive to preserve the dignity of the child AND the adult in every interaction. If you’ve ever ranted or yelled at kids, you know what it is like to lose some of your own dignity. As for the dignity of the child, this is one reason we don’t endorse using public shame.
 
If we deliberately set out to make kids feel bad and think that public shame will “teach them a lesson,” we have probably veered off the consequence road and into the punishment ditch. Let’s be blunt – consequences that are intended to make kids feel shame are definitely not Love and Logic. The best consequences happen when kids get to solve the problem they caused. And it often feels pretty good to solve problems. It is a myth that we need to make them feel really bad.
 
There is a reason that a great teacher will often walk over and address misbehavior in a quiet voice versus calling students out from across the room. We know that kids’ defenses go up and their ability to reason goes down when they feel shame or embarrassment.
 
Of course, in the real world, we sometimes feel embarrassment as a result of poor decisions. It never feels good to be pulled over for speeding and see the judging eyes of all the passing motorists. If the logical result of a behavior is feeling some embarrassment, so be it.
 
We know a mom whose son was sentenced to doing some community service (picking up trash) for damaging property in their town. The mom asked if her son could pick up trash in the next town over so that he wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of his home community. The judge said,” No,” and we would agree – feeling embarrassed would be a reasonable part of the logical consequence. We should not coddle kids when they make poor decisions.
 
It’s when we go out of our way to make kids feel embarrassed, or try to pile on the guilt, that we get off track and lose sight of the real goal, which is learning. To be honest, we have all blown this at one time or another.
 
So, let this be a guiding question when considering whether something is a Love and Logic response: Does this preserve the kid’s dignity? If I’m posting something on social media that I know will humiliate a child, it’s a safe bet that the answer is emphatically no.

 
Dr. Charles Fay and 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 all others. These are often called “restitution.” We at Love and Logic refer to restitution as 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 others.
 
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

“Some kids decide to do extra chores.” 
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:

  • “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.
 
To learn more about this approach, and what to do if your child refuses to replace your energy, listen to our audio, Love and Logic Magic When Kids Drain Your Energy.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

Keep Your Child from Becoming A Statistic

If I’m being honest, I have to admit that I often struggle to control my own emotions. This is especially true when I am driving on city streets or highways. There seem to be more distracted and aggressive drivers to dodge than ever before. Which means I must be more alert, more aware, and more self-aware than ever before. It’s often a great struggle, of course, to remain calm and refrain from overreacting.
 
Kids today are in a similar fix. Are there more people out there who are hurting these days? More people who dump their emotional garbage onto others? More temptations and pitfalls for young people? Kids today must be equipped with better social and emotional skills than at any previous time in our society so that they can avoid the very prevalent threats to their emotional well-being.
 
Just as I often feel tempted to declare that I’m never going to get behind the wheel again and brave the dangers and frustrations on the highway, I often feel the urge to keep my beloved children off life’s highways and protect them from all the bad social and emotional traffic. It’s really rough out there and I don’t want one of my kids becoming a “statistic.”
 
The wisdom of Love and Logic has taught me that instead of overly protecting or overly warning my kids, I must teach them life skills. Life skills are more effective and more lasting than warnings or coddling can ever be.
 
There is sobering news about these life skills: they must begin with me. Teaching by example is a huge part of raising kids with Love and Logic. On the road, I might take a few slow, controlled breaths and tell myself something positive (and true) such as, “This too, shall pass.” I might repeat some other phrases such as, “Today, I will avoid appearing on an episode of ‘COPS’” (or a reality show, news program, or YouTube video).
 
While I am driving, I might be very honest in front of my kids by saying, “It sure is hard to have patience in traffic like this.” Does it help kids when we are honest about our own struggles while modeling skills to guard our own hearts and attitudes?
 
My best hope is that when my kids hit tough situations, they will guard their own hearts and attitudes, just like their dad does in traffic—most of the time!

 
Jedd Hafer

Undermining Mom’s Authority

Shona, a single mother, and Jody, her daughter, are living with Grandma; Grandma does not agree with Shona’s parenting style. One night, Shona told Jody that it was time for her to brush her teeth and get ready for bed. Then she said, "I'll be waiting in your room to read your bedtime story."
 
Grandma jumped in with, "Oh, now, now, Shona—it’s still early. I think she can stay up a little longer. Jody, come sit with me and we'll play one more video game." Without actually saying it, Grandma had sent a strong message to Jody that she does not have to listen to her mother.
 
Solution
 
A solution to this comes after the adults agree that Jody should learn to respect both adults. This will only happen when Shona and Grandma agree that they will not interfere with any limit set by the other. If the adults have disagreements, they should discuss them privately.
 
It’s likely that Jody will continue to test limits by complaining to whoever will let her have her way. If she complains to Grandma, Grandma needs to say, "Jody, what did your mom say about that?" If she complains to Shona, Shona needs to say, "Jody, what did your grandma say about that?" Many parents discover that much of the tension in this situation can be reduced by asking the question, “What did your mom (or dad) say?”
 
Jim Fay

Are You Trying Too Hard to Change?

Are you trying too hard to change? When we try too hard, our brains become stressed. When our brains are stressed, we go into survival mode rather than growth mode. When we’re stuck in survival mode, we fall back into old patterns. When we fall back into old patterns, we get upset with ourselves. When we get upset with ourselves, our brains drive us deeper into survival mode. All of this unfolds as a vicious cycle of frustration and discouragement.
 
Is it okay to give yourself a break? Try an experiment for a week or two. See what happens when you step back and do the following.
 
Trust that your brain is learning even when you aren’t conscious of it.
 
For decades people have told me, “What helped me most was to listen to the same Love and Logic audio repeatedly without trying to learn any of it. After about six repetitions, I found myself implementing the concepts without trying.”
 
Learn in little chunks.
 
Give yourself permission to focus on one skill or concept at a time.
 
Get relaxed and imagine.
 
Mentally rehearsing and visualizing success are powerful strategies for many people. At least once a day, breathe deeply, get relaxed, and imagine that you are using the skill or concept you’ve chosen to work on.
 
Focus on what you want to do, not what you don’t want to do.
 
Instead of repeatedly thinking something like, “I’m not going to lose my temper today,” experiment with, “Today I’m going to delay the consequence when I feel anger coming on.”
 
Develop a mental anchor around the change you want to make.
 
Mental anchors are short sayings to memorize and fall back on when we find ourselves tempted to backslide. Love and Logic materials are full of them. Examples include:
 

  • Anger and frustration feed misbehavior.
  • Hope and pray for mistakes when the price tag is small.
  • Kids will come to need the same number of reminders they are given.
  • The more words I use when things are going wrong, the less effective I become.

 
Remember, step back, relax, and visualize strategies for positive outcomes.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

How to Yell Less

Before I had the good fortune of learning Love and Logic skills, I used to yell a lot more. One of the greatest gifts I received from the Love and Logic Institute was the ability to proactively use strategies to reduce yelling and blow-ups with my kids.
 
As a former yeller (not to be confused with ‘Ole Yeller’), I can say that I still blow up from time to time, but my kids really do notice the difference. And, I’m sure my cardiologist would notice too–if I had a cardiologist! Let’s face it, yelling is bad for everybody.
 
It feels good to remain calm and to remember to use our skills. How can something like this be accomplished? Practice. Practice is always important. We get better with more repetitions and more experience using a skill. In addition, the most powerful trick I learned from Dr. Charles Fay and Jim Fay: the phrases I repeat to myself.
 
Years ago, I heard Jim Fay tell the story of putting himself to sleep at night by repeating this phrase, “When I feel like yelling, I’m going to whisper. When I feel like yelling, I’m going to whisper." He told us that at some point, he opened his mouth to yell and a whisper came out instead!
 
The same principle of repeating a phrase (and putting it on sticky notes) has helped me a lot. I chose the phrase, “Stay cool, don’t be a fool.” It even rhymes. And, if you choose, you could put a little rhythm to it. A friend of mine told me that adding a musical element helps our brain remember things, which makes sense considering the fact that I can only remember the alphabet when I sing it!
 
I encourage you to pick a phrase that will remind you to remain calm and not yell. Put it on sticky notes, put them all over the place, and spend time repeating this phrase to yourself–especially when going through intense times with your kids (and other loved ones). See if being intentional about this makes a difference. If it does, please share your results!
 
Jedd Hafer

Teaching Our Kids Not to Interrupt

Is it healthy for children to believe that they can interrupt adults?
 
Ironically, we reinforce this bad behavior when we repeatedly tell them to stop interrupting. In effect, we are encouraging them to interrupt. To make matters worse, there are few things more rewarding to a child than being able to control the color of our faces, the volume of our voices, or the number of words produced by our tongues.
 
Teach Them How to Get Your Attention and Wait for Your Reply
 
Children as young as two or three can learn how to ask for attention in healthy ways. This involves showing them how to approach you silently and wait for your reply quietly. This takes a lot of work, patience, and practice, but it is doable.
 
One Love and Logic mom commented, “We have five kids under ten. That’s why we can’t afford to let them think that they can mob us for what they want anytime they want it. My husband and I taught each of them what we call the ‛sneaky statue’ routine. When we’re talking, they know to sneak up and stand like statues. We gradually taught each of them to wait longer by celebrating their success in being ‛sneaky as spies’ and ‛silent like statues.’
 
Use the “Stop Sign” Signal
 
Wise parents understand that responding to interruptions with words usually makes it worse. Instead, they continue talking while signalling with their hand that the child must stop talking and wait. Parents must maintain eye contact with the adult they are talking with. If they are on the phone, they should look away from their child.
 
Give Your Signal Special Meaning by Following Through
 
When our kids insist on interrupting, it’s essential that they see this does not pay off. With children young enough to be carried safely, parents can silently place them in a highchair, playpen, or some other safe spot, and then immediately resume their conversation. Older kids should be expected to replace the energy they have drained from their parents. This may involve doing extra chores, allowing their parents to rest instead of expecting them to drive them somewhere, paying for their own babysitter so that their parents can go on a date with each other, etc.
 
When kids learn that it’s okay to interrupt adults, they begin to think that they are on the same level as adults. This isn’t good for them… or for us. The happiest kids are the ones who learn early on that the world does not revolve around them.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

Takin’ Flak For Healthy Parenting and Teaching

Wes Conrad was a B-17 pilot in WWII. He told many stories of his bombing missions over Germany and catching “flak” from Hitler’s anti-aircraft guns. (Flak is an abbreviation for the German word Fliegerabwehrkanonen, which is translated as anti-aircraft guns and literally means “flyer defence cannons.”) On one particular mission, the battle was raging and Wes’s bomber was taking a lot of flak. One of the flight crew, a very young man who was understandably scared to death, begged Wes to let him jettison their load of bombs so they could abandon their mission and return safely to base. Wes said that he looked at the young man and responded, “Get back to your position soldier– if we ain’t takin’ flak – we ain’t over the target!”
 
What in the world does this have to do with parenting and teaching?
 
When adults begin using Love and Logic skills, such as empathy, choices, delaying consequences, setting limits, etc., they often catch a lot of flak from their kids. The kids start to feel off-balance because what they are accustomed to is giving way to a healthier approach. The adults are now establishing themselves as loving yet powerful authority figures. This is great in the long-term but upsetting for kids in the short-term.
 
If kids are showing some pushback because you are adopting Love and Logic skills, don’t panic. You are on the right track. I regularly tell classes and clients that things will often “go south before they go north,” and to firmly and lovingly hold the line. Adults will start catching flak because they are “over the target” of providing loving limits and accountability.
 
Change can be hard!
 
What does catching flak from kid sound like?

  • “This new stuff you’re learning doesn’t work.”
  • “This is dumb.”
  • “I want my old mom/dad/teacher back.”
  • “You don’t love me.”
  • “You just had kids to make them do all your jobs.”
  • “If I get an “F” on this, it’s your fault.” 

 
Catching flak can also look like tantrums, defiance, sibling bickering, or other negative behaviors.
 
Keep in mind that flak is temporary, as long as we don’t back down. Do yourself and your kids a favor. Hold the line with lots of love… and logic!

 
Kate Turner LPC

Grit Builders and Grit Stealers

Perseverance is the key to building grit. There is no doubt that kids who develop it will lead to happier and more productive lives than those who don’t. Listed below are few “grit builders” with corresponding “grit stealers.”
 
Grit Builders and Grit Stealers 
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 see that they have what it takes to cope with life’s challenges.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

A Pause and a Smile

Are you taking time to pause and smile at your kids? Will this simple act, done frequently, lead to better results than many complicated systems? Is it easy to let the complexities of life distract us from doing simple things that really matter?
 
A Pause and a Smile
 

Complicated things don’t make our lives click,

Simple things, instead, get at how we really tick.

A pause and a smile reach deep into a child’s heart,

From this foundation, all relationships start.

We get so busy with the complicated things of life,

We look for peace but find only strife.

Take some time with a child and share a smile,

Providing hope, no doubt is always worthwhile.

A pause and a smile say, “Things will be okay,”

A pause and smile encourage, “You always make my day.”

Simple things are what make our lives click,

Simple things, like time and a smile, are how we really tick.

 
Take some time every day to inject some hope into a child’s life. All it takes is a pause and a smile.

 

Dr. Charles Fay

Questions: Another Way to Reduce Power Struggles

Which is more powerful, a question or a statement?
 
Saying, “Stop behaving that way,” is more likely to create resistance than saying, “Can you save that behavior for later?”
 
“That’s too expensive. I’m not buying it,” will probably create more of a battle than, “How are you planning to pay for that?”
 
“Take out the trash. I’m not taking you to your friend’s house until you do,” stands a better chance of starting a protracted argument than, “When do you suppose I’ll be willing to take you to your friend’s house?”
 
Many times, a thoughtful inquiry has a far greater impact on our kids’ thinking and behavior than a statement. Why is this?
 
Statements tend to create resistance.
Questions are more likely to create thinking.
 
Why are questions so powerful? Do they cause our minds to search for closure in the form of answers? Does the brain have less energy to fight when it’s busy pondering a question?
 
Examples of strategic questions include:

  • When do I allow kids to enjoy treats?
  • When do I listen to kids?
  • Who needs to decide what type of life you have? Can I make sure that you have the skills you will need to get a job, or is that something that is really up to you?
  • What do you think might happen if you don’t let me know where you are? If you ran into a serious problem, how would I know where to find you in order to help?
  • When I pick up your toys for you, who gets to keep them?
  • How can you prove that you are ready to drive the car?


As our children get older, will they need even better decision-making skills than we needed when we were their age? Are the consequences of their decisions far more serious than they were even a decade ago? Are there more life-and-death questions today? How will our children get good at thinking?
 
Sometimes it’s smart to tell our kids what to do, but will we enjoy fewer power struggles if we keep this to a minimum?
 
What’s another benefit of asking questions? We communicate a very powerful and loving message:
 
I know that you can think! I believe in you!

 
Dr. Charles Fay

What is Healthy Preteen and Teen Behavior?

Should I be Concerned about my Preteen’s or Teen’s Behavior?
 
Do you have a preteen or teen? If so, it’s easy to start wondering, and even worrying, about the things they do and how to respond to them. Here’s an overview of what you can expect as normal behavior and what behaviors might warrant more concern.
 
Normal and Developmental Behaviors

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

Unhealthy and Problematic Behaviors

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

How Should I Respond to my Preteen’s or Teen’s Normal Behavior?
 
Knowing what’s within the wide range of “normal” behavior will help us find more humor and enjoyment during this period of our kids’ lives. It helps us recognize when we may need professional help. It also allows us to respond in ways that are helpful rather than ways that damage our relationship and produce rebellion. Read next week’s tip for contrasts of helpful and unhelpful to parenting responses preteen and teen behaviors.
 
If you would like more help with your preteen or teen, listen to our audio Preventing Teen Rebellion, which can also be found in the Ages 7 - 12 Parenting Package.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

Handling a Bad Report Card

A Bad Report Card: What To Do When Our Kids Bring One Home?
 
A bad report card often arrives with more than just Cs, Ds, or Fs. It also carries emotions that leave many parents experiencing frustration, anger, fear, guilt, and even shame. Fortunately, bad grades don’t mean bad parents, a bad kid, or a bad future for that kid. Instead, they represent an opportunity for us to express our unconditional love and provide wise guidance. When these opportunities arise, remember the following:
 
Hand it back.

“Handing it back” means expressing empathy while reminding yourself that your child’s report card is not your report card.
 
This might sound like, “Oh, I can’t imagine how disappointing this must be for you. I love you.”

Listen and remember that just a bit of loving silence is golden.

When we talk too much, we end up owning the problem. When we empathize, listen, and provide a pat on the back or a hug, we are less likely to make the problem worse. Allow your child to think about the issue for a day or two before beginning another discussion.

Ask, “What do you think you are going to do?”

This question is not just a question. It’s also a clear statement of your belief in your child’s ability to cope and to find solutions. It also communicates the message that,“Your grades are your grades. I’m here to help but I can’t do this for you.”

Offer some options for solving the problem.

“Some kids decide to ___________.” This is far more likely to enjoy eventual success than, “You should____________.”

Focus on character over grades.

Remember that we can’t make our kids into great students, but we can make our home great places to learn important values like honesty, love for others, grit, and delayed gratification.

When we resist the temptation to allow our own fears and frustrations to take over—and instead place most of our emphasis on character—we dramatically increase the odds that our child will enjoy life-long success.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Healthy Responses to Preteen and Teen Behavior

How Should I Respond to my Preteen’s or Teen’s Normal Behavior?
 
As I wrote last week, knowing what’s within the wide range of “normal” behavior for preteens and teens helps us spend more time enjoying them and less time worrying. It also gives us a sense of when we might need to get some professional help for the kid or the family. Very importantly, it helps us respond in ways that avoid damaging our relationship and produce rebellion. Listed below are just a few contrasts between helpful and unhelpful responses:
 
Helpful Responses

  • Listen to their opinions—display respect and love even if you disagree.
  • Trust that they will eventually become very much like you if you maintain a good relationship.
  • Encourage them to take on more responsibilities, such as managing their own money, getting ready for school on their own, working things out with teachers/coaches, etc.
  • Talk about your political and religious views when they can overhear you talking with others. Keep the tone positive and constructive, interwoven with love for others. Love them the same regardless of what they decide about these topics.
  • Talk about your political and religious views when they can overhear you talking with others. Keep the tone positive and constructive, interwoven with love for others. Love them the same regardless of what they decide about these topics.
  • Do your best to live according to your values. Admit when you fall short of doing so. Be real.
  • Provide lots of supervision done with an attitude of love and concern. Try not to leave them alone at home. Require that they come with the family on almost all outings.
  • Get to know their friends and build relationships with them.
  • Have regular meals together.
  • Expect them to serve the family by completing their fair share of contributions.
  • Allow them to drive when they are old enough, they have paid at least half of the cost, and they are good at following the rules of the home.
  • Provide factual information about sex, including the risks. Do so with empathy and an attitude of high expectations for them. Point out that the people who wait until marriage usually have a lot fewer things to worry about as preteens, teens, and young adults.
  • Have them set a reasonable curfew. “Reasonable” is the key. This can be different every night that they go out, but generally, it shouldn’t be any later than 10 p.m. If they refuse to be reasonable, set the time for them and make it early.
  • Set significant limits over technology use. Do so by saying, “I allow the use of digital devices when it doesn’t hurt our relationship. This includes causing me to worry about you.”

Unhelpful Responses

  • Argue with them and try to set them straight.
  • Worry constantly about their new attitudes.
  • Rescue and get overly involved in things that they can do for themselves.
  • Lecture them in an effort to make them believe what you believe. Let them overhear you being uncaring and critical of others.
  • Hold higher standards for them than for yourself.
  • Make the mistake of thinking that they no longer need as much supervision as they used to.
  • Ignore their friends or treat them like “bad influences.”
  • Let them “do their own thing” and never expect them to spend time with the family.
  • Allow them to avoid their chores.
  • Allow them to drive with no restrictions.
  • Give them no information about sex, or just resign yourself to the notion that “every teen is doing it.” Allow coed sleepovers and let them go to houses where these are probably happening.
  • Let them come home at night at whatever time they like. (Through this, you will demonstrate that you don’t really care what’s going on in their lives.)
  • Let them spend most of their time on their devices without supervision. Allow them to bond more with their screens than with you. Spend more time watching your screen than watching and enjoying being with them.

Always remember the big picture during this period of their development—the most important factor affecting the adjustment of our teens and preteens is the quality of our relationship with them. Remember that they still want us in their lives, but that they are also determined, like preteens and teens worldwide, to act like they don’t.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

What is Healthy Preteen and Teen Behavior?

Should I be Concerned about my Preteen’s or Teen’s Behavior?
 
Do you have a preteen or teen? If so, it’s easy to start wondering, and even worrying, about the things they do and how to respond to them. Here’s an overview of what you can expect as normal behavior and what behaviors might warrant more concern.
 
Normal and Developmental Behaviors

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

Unhealthy and Problematic Behaviors

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

How Should I Respond to my Preteen’s or Teen’s Normal Behavior?
 
Knowing what’s within the wide range of “normal” behavior will help us find more humor and enjoyment during this period of our kids’ lives. It helps us recognize when we may need professional help. It also allows us to respond in ways that are helpful rather than ways that damage our relationship and produce rebellion. Read next week’s tip for contrasts of helpful and unhelpful to parenting responses preteen and teen behaviors.
 
If you would like more help with your preteen or teen, listen to our audio Preventing Teen Rebellion, which can also be found in the Ages 7 - 12 Parenting Package.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

Teaching Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are part of life. Teaching healthy conflict resolution skills is an important part of raising healthy, well-adjusted kids.
 
Life means having conflicts.
 
Resolving conflicts in healthy ways is an essential skill that we can teach our kids when we model:
 

  • Good listening skills
  • Appropriate compromise
  • Limits
  • Humility


Schedule the discussion for any time that is most convenient for you. 
Help kids learn conflict resolution by having them practice with you.
 
Tell your kids that if they ever think you have done something that they think is unfair, then they can tell you by whispering, “I’m not sure that’s fair.”
 
If they tell you that they think you have done something unfair, then tell them, “We can make an appointment, and I will listen and consider your case as long as your voice remains calm and respectful. What you say may or may not change what I decide to do.”
 
When doing this, you retain the right to:
 

  • Respectfully disagree with the child or simply say “no.”
  • Provide some caring opportunities for the child to see that life isn’t always “fair.”
  • End the conversation if you feel that you are being manipulated, the child is playing verbal “brain drain,” or anger creeps in.
  • Compromise with the child when it makes sense to do so.

Let them overhear adults resolving conflicts.
 
When we try too hard to avoid having conflicts in front of our kids, they don’t have an opportunity to see how adults resolve them in effective ways.
 
The end goal is to create an environment where respectful discourse and productive conflict resolution is taught… a place where kids learn that solving problems with respectful words is far more productive than manipulating or resorting to violence.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Teaching Social and Emotional Skills

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.
 
Example
 
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.
 
Experience
 
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
 
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 “Explanations” as a fourth E?
 
Explanations are a fourth 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.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Helping Kids with Unique Challenges

We often hear from parents of kids who have diabetes, food allergies, and other challenges. We hear how these conditions make it difficult for parents to balance keeping their kids safe and empowering them while resisting urges to take over.
 
Let’s be perfectly clear – sometimes we must absolutely take over. If we need to save a child’s life, we don’t worry that we are micromanaging. We take over a situation when we must for safety reasons and do not look back.
 
For the rest of the time, Dr. Charles Fay offers some key points to stay on track when dealing with our kids’ medical conditions and other challenges:

  1. Err on the side of high expectations
    It’s often easy to focus on limitations, but kids thrive when we focus on what they CAN do. Even kids with more severe disabilities can find ways to contribute and help others. When we keep expectations for our kids high, they can be inspired to find creative ways to do more things for themselves.
  2. Teach them skills to navigate the problem
    We can ask questions like, “How will you handle it if…?” This might also include how to speak politely when reminding others about a serious allergy or other condition. For example, teaching them to say, “I have some serious food allergies. May I please review the ingredients to make sure it’s safe for me?”
  3. Let your hopefulness and positivity rub off on them
    Pessimism doesn’t do kids much good. Avoid being sad about things our kids have to miss or enjoy in modified ways. Instead, allow them to hear us express optimism about their health and capabilities.


Dr. Fay often reminds us that kids take their emotional cues from us. They will greatly benefit from observing us being more grateful and less ‘guilt-ful’.
 
Let’s enjoy our times together and celebrate things we can do rather than spending too much time mourning and lamenting our limitations.

 
Jedd Hafer

Simple Truths Teach Self-Control

Good things come to those who wait. While this is an old idea, it’s a good one. So good, in fact, that kids who learn to wait become far more successful than those who don’t. It’s a fact born out by the famous “marshmallow test,” where children who are willing to wait so they can earn more treats show more long-term adjustment than those who settle for the immediate gratification of just one treat.
 
Like all social-emotional skills, self-control is primarily taught in three ways by:

  • Example: We show kids what it looks like.
  • Experience: We allow them to act hastily regarding small matters so they can truly experience negative results.
  • Empathy: We allow their hearts and minds to focus on the sad consequences of their hasty choices rather than our anger or frustration. 

I recently witnessed a powerful social-emotional learning experience in an ice cream shop in rural South Dakota. Two young boys were holding their ice cream cones as they wrestled over who would get to the table first. Their mother stared at her cone and proclaimed, “It sure would be sad for me if I dropped this because I wasn’t paying attention. Then I wouldn’t get another.”
 
A glorious thing happened. Mom made it to the table with her treat. The boys didn’t. Theirs were melting on the floor.
 
I noticed something amazing. Rather than blaming each other and begging for another chance, they grabbed a wad of napkins and proceeded to clean up after themselves. They seemed mostly sad, rather than mad. I wonder where they learned that?
 
Through the entire process, Mom didn’t say another word. Are you guessing she’d learned somewhere along the way that actions, empathy, and natural consequences are far more powerful?
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Don’t Be Scared of Whining This Season

Why can't I trick-or-treat without you?" "Why can't I have my candy now?" Many parents will be hearing these questions from their little ghouls and goblins during the Halloween season. And many parents will hear it over and over as kids repeat "but why?" in a whining tone. Kids use this whining technique hoping their parents will give them what they want. When kids whine, we can ask or tell ourselves:

  1. Is this genuine curiosity or whining? If your child really wants to learn about something, answering the "but why?" question can start a fun conversation. But if the child is whining and complaining, parents don't need to provide a lengthy explanation for setting a limit or imposing a consequence.
  2. Make your child think. Many times, parents try to reason and offer an explanation when they set limits for kids, such as, "I have to go trick-or-treating with you because I don't want you to get hurt." We suggest parents respond to "but why?" by saying in a non-sarcastic way, "Why do you think?" But no matter how many explanations parents give, many kids continue to ask "but why?" Instead, it is the child who should be doing the thinking. A child's brain development is enhanced if he or she has to spend time thinking about the answer, rather than immediately receiving it from the parent.
  3. Offer empathy. Provide a healthy dose of sadness and understanding rather than anger and frustration. For example, "Feel free to have a piece of your Halloween candy after you've eaten your dinner."

Whether it is Halloween or any other day, things go best when we set good limits in loving ways and stick to the limits that we set.
 
Be safe and have fun!

Dr. Charles Fay

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 search for specific 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 and about 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 idea is to print images of those 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 quite 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 word beans begins with the letter ‘B.’ ”
  • 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 are 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

The Greatest Gift

Have you ever felt so angry that tears fill your eyes? That’s the state I found myself in as I listened to my own precious children say some hurtful things to me — to me, the woman who birthed them, loved them, fed them, schlepped them places! My mind and mouth were gearing up for an epic stream of threatening and guilt-producing words, and then I remembered the greatest gift I’d received from Love and Logic, that “anger and frustration feed misbehavior.” This gem, boiled down to its most basic construct, taught me that I could choose — actually decide — to stay calm. Love and Logic gave me written permission not to get mad.
 
It may sound almost foolish to some, and yet, I was stuck in a belief system that my own children (and others) were “making” me angry. It didn’t matter that I already had two college degrees and one of them was a Master’s in Counseling. I continued to lose my cool on a regular basis. How had I bought into the belief that others controlled my emotions? It started with modeling. Anger was a frequent visitor in my childhood home, and as my (amazing) older brother, Mark, said: “We weren’t taught that you could disagree without being disagreeable.” Another wise person once said, “What we experience we learn, what we learn we practice, what we practice we become.” (I have googled for the author of this quote to no avail.) We all know that practice can make permanent. As I grew into adulthood, I was stuck in the false narrative that “blow-ups” were just part of life, and I was not owning the fallout they caused because I continued to point fingers.
 
One of the most beautiful features of Love and Logic is its simplicity. It is not complicated, but it requires practice. As I practiced the art — yes, the art — of empathy and remaining calm during stressful events, I noticed something amazing. I was changing. I wasn’t changing into someone wimpy and permissive but, quite the contrary, I was becoming stronger, clearer, and warmer. I learned I could delay consequences, and come back later when I was calm. I could decide not to take things personally, take a deep breath, and even crack a genuine smile and say, “I love you too much to argue. What did I say?” I could even choose to sternly say, “I am feeling upset right now — I need to get myself together before I make any decisions.” Our kids are watching how we handle frustrations. Again, modeling.
 
It used to feel more natural to get angry, and yet I can attest to the fact that the more you use (and practice) the principles of Love and Logic, the less you have to “use” them — they just become part of who you are. Cooler heads prevail!
 
*Bonus: The next time you use a Q-TIP, remember this:
Quit Taking It Personally ????

 

Kate Turner LPC

When Your Child is the Bully

“What do you do when your own child is the bully? You are always asking about what to do when your kid is being bullied. What about when they are the one who is dishing it out?”
 
This question came from a concerned mother, wracked with guilt over her son’s habit of demeaning peers emotionally and physically pushing them around.
 
Described below is one suggestion. To read more, visit my blog.
 
Spit in Their Soup
 
“Spitting in Their Soup” is a powerful therapeutic technique originally developed decades ago and named by the famous therapist Alfred Adler. The Love and Logic variation is summed up in two steps:

1.  Identify the child’s goal for performing the behavior. Often in the case of bullying, the goal is to look and feel powerful.

2.  Use empathy to communicate that the behavior is actually achieving the opposite.

Let’s see how a parent or educator might use this approach with a child who’s bullying others:

Adult (with sincere empathy): “I’ve been learning a lot about why kids bully others.”

Bully: “I’m not doing it. It’s not me. Why do I always get blamed for everything?”

Bully: “That’s not me!”

Adult (without a hint of sarcasm): “It’s like when they pick on other kids, they are really saying to everyone, ‘I’m hurting so bad… somebody please help me.’”

Bully: “I don’t even know what you’re talking about. That’s not me.”

Adult: “Talk to you later. Let me know if there is any way I can help.”

Obviously, this approach can backfire dramatically if the adult is unable to deliver the message with sincerity and true compassion. Love always has to be the foundation.

Dr. Charles Fay

Dealing with Angry People

Is there anyone in your life who seems to fly off the handle at the slightest perceived insult? Do you know anyone who throws verbal barbs and biting accusations your way any time you try to engage in conversation? If you have vital signs, the odds are very high that you do.
 
Success with occasionally angry people… as well as the chronically ticked-off variety… involves remembering these three essential truths:
 
Anyone who angers me controls me.
 
The person who talks the least has the most power.
 
Questions create thinking… statements create resistance.
 
The first truth reminds us that we maintain our personal power only when we choose to separate ourselves from the other’s anger. Empathy provides a powerful tool for accomplishing this. That's right! When we perceive the other person as hurting… rather than as obnoxious… we are far less likely to find ourselves being triggered by their ire.
 
The second truth reminds us that ears are mightier than the mouth. Some people remain angry and confrontational regardless of how well we understand their point of view. Most, however, calm significantly when they see that we care enough to listen.
 
The third truth reminds us that thoughtful, sincere questions cause others to think. Examples include:
 
How long have you felt this way?
 
What do you wish would happen here?
 
Can you tell me more?
 
One educator relayed his surprise at how well the skills worked with his adult son:
 
I was ready to use the skills I learned with the parents of my students. I wasn't prepared for how well they worked when my 25-year-old son blasted me for saying "no" to a loan. Instead of us fighting over the phone, we ended the conversation with some mutual dignity.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Homework, Grades, Sports, Chores, and Parent-Child Relationships

Does almost every day feel like a blur? Do you often find yourself wishing you had five or six more hands so you could juggle everything that comes your way? Conscientious parents in today’s world face a dizzying array of competing demands upon their time and energy. When everything heading our way feels like an ultimate essential, it can be tough to determine where to place our priorities.
 
On a scale of 1 to 10, how would we at Love and Logic rank the importance of homework, grades, sports, chores, and parent-child relationships? As you read, keep in mind that these rankings are based on empirical research as well as decades of experience with thousands of parents, educators, and other professionals… and of course my own subconscious biases. Ultimately, all of us have to decide what’s best for our unique children, families, and schools.
 
Homework
 
1------2------{3}------4------5------6------7------8------9------10
 
Homework is important, but nearly 100 years of research has failed to give it a stellar grade. Much of the debate reflects researchers’ difficulty determining how much homework is done by kids… and how much is primarily done by their parents.
 
Provide a time and place for your children to complete their homework. Help them as long as it is fun for both of you… and as long as they are doing most of the work. Because homework only receives a three on the scale, let them be responsible for either getting it done or explaining to their teacher why they haven’t. Never fight with your kids over homework.
 

   See: Trautwein, U., & Koller, O. (2003). The relationship between homework and achievement—still much of a mystery. Educational Psychology Review, 15, 115-145.

 
Grades
 
1------2------3------4------{5}------6------7------8------9------10
 
Grades are important but not as important as developing character and a passion for learning. Besides, too many kids begin to gravitate toward easier subjects and classes because they are more concerned with GPA rather than true intellectual growth.
 
Sports (and other healthy extracurricular activities)
 
1------2------3------4------5------6------7------{8}------9------10
 
Kids who participate in sports, music lessons, and other healthy extracurricular activities are far less likely to become involved in drugs, sex, and other damaging behaviors. They also tend to do better in school!
 

   See: Stephens, L. J., & Schaben, L. A. (2002, March). The effect of interscholastic sports participation on academic achievement of middle level school activities. National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin, 86, 34-42.

 
Chores
 
1------2------3------4------5------6------7------8------9------{10}
 
Yes! Chores are more important than homework, grades, and extracurricular activities. Chores… completed without chronic reminders and without pay… help our kids feel more tightly connected to the family team. Chores also help them to develop perseverance, combat entitlement, and build a healthy self-esteem. In a Love and Logic home, kids get to do their homework and participate in extracurricular activities after they have finished contributing to the family.
 
Parent-Child Relationships
 
1------2------3------4------5------6------7------8------9------{10}
 
Love and Logic is all about developing healthy relationships… relationships that last a lifetime. Why? Because there’s nothing more important to life-long success than our children viewing us as being simultaneously loving and strong. Too frequently this relationship is sacrificed in an attempt to nag, threaten, or punish kids into doing their homework and getting good grades.
 
Conclusion
 
There are many paths to success. Some kids go the traditional route, finding relatively easy success in learning and in school. Others struggle with school yet develop valuable skills through other avenues. When all is said and done, the priorities should always be placed on improving relationships, building good character, and helping kids learn to focus on their strengths.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Give Them the Unexpected

Mark was beside himself. After midnight, he received a call from the neighbors where his son, Jake, was spending the night with their son.
 
Jake and his buddy had snuck into the parents’ liquor cabinet and sampled several types of alcohol.
 
Mark took several deep breaths as he drove to the neighbors’ house to pick up his intoxicated eighth grader at one a.m.
 
The furious dad had some choice words all ready to yell, but when Jake got in the car, Dad just stayed quiet for some reason. Mark wondered where this self-control was coming from.
 
The next morning, a sickly looking and bleary-eyed Jake finally asked his dad, “Aren’t you going to yell at me?” He was bracing himself for a loud and forceful lecture.
 
Mark remembered (and repeated) something he had heard in a Love and Logic class, “I can’t think of anything I could say to make you feel worse than you must already feel. I love you.”
 
After some thinking, Mark decided Jake could make up for his time and inconvenience for the late-night pick-up by completing some extra chores. Jake also agreed he needed to send an apology card to the neighbors with money for the alcohol the boys had taken.
 
Seven years later, Jake gave a short speech on the day he was promoted to the rank of sergeant in the military. He mentioned his dad and how much he loved and respected the man. He briefly told the story of his own incredibly foolish behavior one night in eighth grade. Jake almost teared up as he recalled the time his dad gave him grace when he was expecting wrath.
 
“What was most important to my dad was that I owned my mistakes and learned from them to become a better person.”
 
Is it possible that when kids are expecting big, bad wrath from us, receiving grace and kindness (while still holding them accountable) could be even more powerful?

 
Jedd Hafer

Don’t Bother Mom When She’s on the Phone

“They’re driving me crazy! Every time I’m on the phone they start fighting with each other. If it’s not that, they are asking for things. I haven’t had an uninterrupted phone conversation for months. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
 
Anna’s children had discovered that they were no longer the center of attention when she talked on the phone. So, they would hang on her, complain, bicker, or beg. She decided to do something about this by using a Love and Logic Training Session.
 
Anna called one of her friends and explained the problem. “Paula,” Anna said, “my kids are in need of some special training. They are driving me nuts when I get on the phone. Would you be willing to call me several times during the next few days? When they start going through their acts, I’ll put you on hold for a few minutes. I’ll pretend like it’s no big deal that we stop the conversation while I straighten out the kids. That way they are going to find out that inconveniencing me while I’m on the phone is a bad decision. Please call me tomorrow morning and we can have our first training session.”
 
“Oh, this sounds great!” answered Paula. “Maybe you can do the same thing for me.”
 
Anna started telling Paula about the Love and Logic Energy Drain technique, “When we are inconvenienced, the time and energy we lose has to be paid back by the kids. This is usually paid back by doing some of the parent’s work, like scrubbing toilets, washing windows, or pulling weeds.”
 
Paula called the next morning, and true to form, the kids started in on Anna. She very politely said, “Oh, Paula, I’m so sorry. Would you please hold? We are going to have a Love and Logic moment at our house.”
 
Anna put the phone down, calmly walked over to the kids and said in a stern voice, “I told you that bothering me while I’m on the phone is an Energy Drain. I’m going to have to do something about this. You can wait in your room until I finish.”
 
Anna’s kids paid her back for her Energy Drain by pulling weeds that afternoon. Now, if the kids forget and annoy Mom while she is on the phone, she turns to the kids and asks, “Are you sure you want to inconvenience me while I’m on the phone?” This is usually followed by a quick retreat by the kids.
 
The beauty of the “Energy Drain” technique is that it can be adapted to all types of new and different situations.

 
Jim Fay

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

Is it really 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 horrible and downright mean it is to upset our children by providing consequences. I was speaking at a seminar in Salt Lake City.
 
By the way… if you’re a Salt Lake City citizen, please don’t take any offense. I love your city.
 
A parent at the conference shared her confusion:
 
We caught our sixteen-year-old sending nude pictures of herself to her boyfriend. We’d been learning about Love and Logic, so we felt it important that we take her phone. We really felt that it made sense… but then her therapist told us that we were way off base.
 
Trying to understand the situation, I asked, “Tell me how you did it.”
 
Mom continued:
 
We were careful to remain calm and to do our best to use empathy. We just told her that we loved her and that we didn’t feel comfortable providing a phone when she was using it to do something inappropriate and dangerous.
 
I was confused and asked, “So the therapist told you that you shouldn’t have done that?”
 
Mom replied:
 
The therapist told us that doing this was too upsetting to our daughter. He went on to tell us that Love and Logic isn’t effective because it upsets kids.
 
“What do you think?” I asked.
 
Her answer:
 
I just don’t know how a person can raise a responsible child without having some accountability.
 
Over the past few years, a strangely popular “no-consequences” movement has developed among many. They seem to argue that if we just do a better job of loving kids and meeting their underlying emotional needs, there will be no need for consequences. They also suggest that using consequences… even reasonable ones delivered with great love… is a big no-no.
 
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 it ignores the reality that the world is a place full of consequences.
 
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.
 
Are we going to prepare our kids for a world that doesn’t exist… or the real world?
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Chores and School Success

What can we as Love and Logic parents do right now to help our kids enjoy the best academic success? The answer may surprise some of you: Ensure that our kids are contributing to the family by consistently helping with housework, yard work, and other duties.
 
Kids in the habit of successfully completing chores are far more likely to develop a habit of successfully completing academic assignments.
 
In one of my books, From Bad Grades to a Great Life,  I describe why chores meet an essential human emotional need: The need to feel needed. When we treat our kids like guests in a five-star, all-inclusive resort, their true self-esteem plummets and they develop attitudes of entitlement.
 
Low self-esteem and entitlement go hand in hand. Both equal low achievement motivation.
 
To prevent this from happening… or to begin the process of healing… follow Love and Logic’s ABCs for training kids to do chores:
 
A - Assign every member of your family with some meaningful contributions.
 
Ask yourself, “What am I doing that my kids could do on a regular basis?” Many parents find it helpful to post this list on the refrigerator complete with names next to each contribution.
 
Caution - Don’t say, “Do it now.” This just creates power struggles. Instead, allow them to have a deadline for each contribution.
 
B - Be quiet.
 
Avoid reminding or nagging.
 
Remember - Kids who have to be nagged into doing their chores are kids who need to be nagged into doing their schoolwork and homework.
 
C - Consequences preceded by sincere empathy will do the teaching.
 
When their children refuse to do their chores, forget, or do them haphazardly, many parents find it helpful to complete the chore for their child… and expect their child to repay the time and energy expended to accomplish those contributions.
 
Sometimes this means doing extra chores for the parent. Sometimes this means staying home or doing without some privilege so that the parent has time to rest and relax. Other times this means paying the parent or a professional to do the job. A memorable example involved a teen who had to pay a maid service to complete her housework contributions.
 
Remember - Anger and frustration create resentment, while sincere empathy creates responsibility. The key to success hinges on sincere empathy!

 
Dr. Charles Fay

“O-kay?”

I was recently in the Newark, New Jersey airport and my flight had been delayed for the fourth time. There was a family of four near me: Dad, Mom, and two kids, 7-year-old boy/girl twins. We chatted for a bit, and as I drifted back to my book I heard Mom say, “Hey, kids, we are going to go get lunch, okay?”
 
The little boy, a compliant kid, said, “Sure! I’m starving!”
 
The little girl, a strong-willed kid, yelled, “No! I’m not hungry!”
 
Earlier I’d heard from the dad, “Hey, kids, let’s go use the restroom, o-kay?” The answers were similar to the previous example. The compliant kid was a “yes,” strong-willed kid was a “no.”
 
What do kids hear when parents/caregivers use the word/question, “O-kay?” after a request? Exactly that… a request… not a statement or directive.
 
Later in life, compliant kids who hear “O-kay?” too frequently tend to become indecisive and have a difficult time making decisions. They also tend to listen to peers, the internet, and other external voices rather than developing a strong internal sense of cause-effect and self-control. Why is this the case? Modeling.
 
Strong-willed kids, on the other hand, understand the “o-kay?” as a chance to push back. The battle of the wills is on, and the odds go up that these kids will grow into teens and young adults who experience problems with authority.
 
Love and Logic encourages parents/caregivers to provide firm limits in ways that don’t start power struggles or imply weakness. This happens when we describe what we are willing to do… and add a couple of choices for good measure:
 

  • “Hey, kids, Mom and I are getting ready to head for lunch. Want to leave in four minutes or five minutes?”
  • Compliant kid: “Yay! Let’s go now!”
  • Strong-willed kid: “I’m not hungry!”
  • Parents (resisting the urge to argue and remembering to follow through with a smile): “Can’t wait to see how good Mickey D’s tastes in New Jersey. We will be leaving in four minutes.”

 
Kate Turner LPC

The Assumption of Compliance

Do you know any kids who seem to be able to sense uncertainty? Does confidence affect our effectiveness with these kids?
 
Have you ever watched an effective adult behave in a way that seems to leave little doubt as to whether kids will comply?
 
In the classroom of a wonderful teacher we know, it often goes like this:
“Will you stop that for me? Thank you,” said in a whispered voice. The “thank you” is in advance of the behavior change and the teacher keeps on walking by without hesitation. Compliance is assumed. In this case, assuming is a good thing because it conveys expectations. Wise adults avoid pausing and creating any doubt whether the child is going to comply or not.
 
Sometimes, we call this the “as if” principle because we behave “as if” the child is (of course) going to do what we asked.
 
When we communicate that our expectation is “of course you are going to comply,” it can reduce the odds of power struggles. The possibility of a power struggle may not even cross the kid’s mind. This is cause for intense celebration.
 
Seriously, do people tend to live up or down to the expectations we convey? Do we send out “wireless signals” of confidence in the kids and in our own abilities? This technique is a simple way to quietly, yet confidently, communicate the expectation, “Of course you are going to comply – it’s me asking!”
 
We encourage educators and parents to experiment with methods of communicating positive assumptions. Assuming compliance is one simple way to do just that.


 
Jedd Hafer

Does Praise Create Pain?

The following is an excerpt from this week’s Love and Logic blog. To read the full text visit my blog.
 
Why do so many adults, from so many varied walks of life, say the same thing about praise? “It backfires with a lot of kids. Their behavior actually gets worse after receiving it.”
 
What is “Praise”?
 
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Praise” means, “to express a favorable judgment of; commend.”
 
Examples from daily life include:

  • Super job!
  • You are so bright
  • Way to go!


Two Types of Praise

Spontaneous
 
This type comes from sincere excitement over something a child has done. Most of the time, I encourage people to relax and allow this type to happen.
 
Intentional
 
This type is done by good-hearted people for the express purpose of shaping behavior. This type is the most likely to backfire. 
 
An Alternative to Praise: Notice and Describe
 
In this week’s blog I describe three reasons why intentional praise can create pain for some children. For the purposes of this brief tip, let’s simply look at an alternative to praise.
 

Notice and describe the behavior without judging it.
 
Examples:

  • I noticed that you finished the assignment even though it was challenging.
  • You did all of your chores without being reminded. How does that feel?
  • I noticed that you kept your cool when those kids were teasing you. What was that like for you?
  • I noticed that you spent a lot of time today helping your little brother.
  • You completed nine out of ten correctly. I imagine that feels really good.

 
If praise seems to be making things worse with a child you know, experiment with these ideas. The underlying message sent to the child will be:
 
I love you unconditionally. 
You don’t have to earn my love, and you can’t lose it. 
You get to decide how you feel about your accomplishments.
 
Again, check out the full blog here.

 

Dr. Charles Fay

Delayed Consequences

Have you ever wondered, “Oh, great. What do I do with this kid now?”
 
A dad shared his story. His simple rule about driving was, “Feel free to drive as long as it doesn’t cause a problem for anyone on the planet.”
 
His son, Justin, missed curfew.
 
Meeting him at the door, Dad said, “I’m so relieved you are okay. I’m going to do something about this problem… but not now… later. Try not to worry.”
 
Justin responded, “Cool.”
 
The next day wasn’t so “cool” for Justin. When he asked to use the car, Dad said, “This is so sad… no.”
 
Justin asked, “But why?”
 
Dad answered, “I suppose when I am really sure that there won’t be a problem with you following the rules of the home, I’ll be more confident that you can follow the rules of the road.”
 
How did Dad handle this so well? He bought himself time by delaying the consequence.
 
We also have a free article on this topic.
 
Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible. If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Shaping Identity

“Who do you think you are?”
 
If you were a mischievous kid like I was, you might have heard an exasperated adult ask this question at least a few times while growing up.
 
We don’t recommend the above as a behavior management technique — but we do want to be intentional about shaping kids’ identities.
 
We would love to see more young people whose identities incorporate ideas like:

      • “It’s not all about me. I’m here to help others… not just myself.”
      • “There is something bigger than me. I have a purpose that goes beyond my day-to-day life.”
      • “I am capable of making a positive impact.”

 
To positively shape identity, many wise parents spend some time (informal times are great — perhaps while doing chores, playing games, taking a walk or a drive) asking questions about kids’ interests, goals, and about things they feel they do well.
 
The idea is to be intentionally planting some “you are capable” and “to give is better than to receive” seeds.
 
We like conversations that include:
 

    •  Asking them how they plan to solve problems: “I’m interested to see how you decide to solve this.” 
    • Getting them talking about their strengths and victories: “How did you do that?”, “I noticed you like to draw. Tell me more about that."
    • Asking which problems they would like to contribute solutions for:  “What are some ways you would like to make a difference in the world?”,  “How do you plan to be part of the solution?”


With some intentionality and a few of the right questions, we can have an impact on how kids view their own identities. And we know their identity will affect their behavior.
 
 
Jedd Hafe

I Have Their Toys — Now What?

Ali’s kids helped her create a pawn shop and a charity. Her twin toddlers didn’t mean to help create these entities, but they did.
 
Eva and Eric left a mass of toys scattered all over the house. Ali used a Love and Logic phrase she learned in a class: “You get to keep the toys you pick up and I’ll keep the ones I pick up.”
 
Then came the hardest part — following through. She got a trash bag and filled it with the toys her children hadn’t picked up. At first, she worried because the twins didn’t seem particularly upset by their diminished toy supply (thanks to Grandma, it was quite impressive).
 
But Ali did notice there were fewer items spread out the next time. She also noticed the twins moved a bit faster and her daughter Eva checked out of the corner of her eye to see where Mom was while she picked up. Fewer toys went into the bag the second time.
 
By the third repetition, Mom barely had to pick up anything. And as she casually walked near one of Eric’s favorites, he scrambled to pick it up before she got there.
 
Ali’s new dilemma: what to do with these toys in the bag. She had heard that some parents decide to let their kids do extra chores (not their regular contributions to the family) to earn back some toys. She liked that idea, but she took it to another level. She picked out the best of the confiscated toys and placed them on a high shelf with actual price tags (Eva and Eric were learning about numbers and money). Some of the toys had twenty-five cents and a picture of a quarter on their tags.
 
Ali made a list of chores that were worth twenty-five cents when completed. By some strange coincidence, they were also tasks she wanted done. Ali’s pawnshop was born and they all had quite a bit of fun exchanging chores, money, and toys.
 
Some toys didn’t make it to Ali’s pawn shelf. She tried to donate them to an organization but learned that particular charity would not accept “used toys.” Never one to give up easily, Ali called her local church daycare and asked if they could use some toys. They could! And they were even willing to come to pick them up. To make it worth the church’s while, Ali enlisted a neighbor friend who also needed to get rid of some excess toys. To top it off, she decided to donate some of her own clothes to the church’s program for people in need.
 
Eva and Eric were given the gift of watching some of their toys being handed to the church staff as well as seeing Mom donate, too.
 
While many parents would lecture the kids and hand the toys back quickly (or maybe not enforce the limit in the first place), this mom was able to turn the toy mess into two important lessons.
 
Jedd Hafer

Take the Empathy Quiz

Empathy is the heart of Love and Logic. If we consistently fail to communicate a sincere desire to understand what our kids are going through, we aren’t using Love and Logic.
 
There are times when I blow it. Is this ever the case for you? If so, remember that none of us are perfect. We all fall short of this unrealistic standard. Nevertheless, Love and Logic people make it a point to continue learning. That’s why they seek feedback from others.
 
Take this quick quiz to gauge your understanding and application of empathy. More importantly, ask an honest friend to complete it with you in mind. Afterward, compare your self-perception with how your friend sees you. Is it a good match?
 
For each of the scenarios below, choose the most empathetic response.
 
1. Being upset about moving to another community.
 

a.   Don’t worry. You’ll make new friends.
b.   I know how you feel.
c.   Why are you being so negative?
d.   It looks like you are really hurting over having to leave.

 
2. The child played poorly during the soccer game.
 

a.   Nobody is perfect.
b.   You just need more practice. When we get home I’ll give you some tips.
c.   It seems like you are feeling really disappointed.
d.   The center referee was terrible. I can see why you are upset.

 
3. The child is crying and says, “Nobody likes me.”
 

a.   That’s not true.
b.   You sound a bit lonely.
c.   You have lots of friends.
d.   Go ask Ava. She’ll be your friend.

 
4. Child broke a window and they have to pay for it.
 

a.   Oh… I can’t imagine how upsetting this must be.
b.   It’s okay. It could have hit a bigger window.
c.   This is so sad, but you should have been more careful.
d.   Did I ever tell you about when I broke the window in Grandpa’s car?

 
5. A child is upset about being teased by a sibling.
 

a.   Someday it will get easier.
b.   What a bummer. I hope for your sake that you guys work this out.
c.   It seems as if you are feeling really hurt by what she said.
d.   Just stand up to her.

 
6. A child says, “I can’t do this homework.”
 

a.   Yes, you can. Just try.
b.   Neither can anyone else.
c.   You always say that.
d.   You sound frustrated.

 
7. The child misbehaved in the store.
 

a.   This is so embarrassing for me.
b.   After all, I do for you, this is the way you treat me?
c.   I’m sorry you had to go to the store. I know it’s boring.
d.   That’s an Energy Drain. You owe me extra chores.

 
Answers: 1(d); 2(c); 3(b); 4(a); 5(c); 6(d); 7(none)

 
Dr. Charles Fay

Dealing with Authority Figures

Do you know any kids who run the risk of having unpleasant experiences with authority figures?
 
We see more instances of young people who fail to show basic respect and/or follow simple directions of police officers, teachers, and other authority figures. This phenomenon often produces sad results.
 
Would it hurt our kids if we taught them to err on the side of being more respectful in their interactions with authority figures? Could it save them tough consequences and perhaps even save them from harm?
 
It is worth mentioning that there is a time and a place for healthy, respectful disagreement and that not all authority figures are 100% correct or fair. There is certainly a time to take appropriate steps when power is abused. But generally, we will help raise safer and happier kids when we take the following steps:

  • Model Respect: Allow kids to see us showing appropriate respect to authority figures such as bosses, leaders, and law enforcement personnel. Allow them to hear us speaking respectfully about them.
  • Spend Time Talking About Respectful Ways to Respond: We like “what-if” scenarios and informal “discussion questions” such as “What do you think would be some bad ways to talk to your teacher if you disagreed? How about some better ways?” Kids have told us that having some ideas in mind ahead of time really helps.
  • Give Kids Practice Disagreeing Respectfully (with you): Some parents have given their kids the phrase, “I’m not sure that’s fair” as a “code phrase” to let the parents know they would like to discuss an issue without getting into a destructive argument.
  • Set Good Limits and Expectations About the Respect They Show You: We love the phrase “I do extra things for people when I feel respected.” Of course, if we make this statement, we need to follow through and go “on strike” from doing some of those extra things when they do not show appropriate respect. 


Expecting kids to show us respect will set the best foundation for teaching them to treat other authority figures with respect as well.
 
Being intentional about this issue could save kids a lot of heartaches—and might even save lives.

 
Jedd Hafer

Honesty Deficit Disorder

What do parents do when their children become truthfulness-challenged? If many adults in today's world suffer from Honesty Deficit Disorder, who are we to think that our offspring will always be immune? The good news is that conscientious parents can turn the tide on truth-bending behavior by applying the Three E's of Love and Logic.
 
The First "E" of Love and Logic: Example
 
Obviously, parents who act truthfully around their kids are far more likely to have kids who tell the truth. A not-so-obvious application of good modeling involves discussing our moral dilemmas with other adults when our children are within earshot. When our children overhear us talking about temptations… and how we've chosen truthfulness instead of deceit… powerful lessons get locked in.
 
The Second "E" of Love and Logic: Experience
 
When children lie, they need to experience logical consequences. One of the most practical involves expecting them to replace any energy they've drained from us as a result of their fibbing. Does lying drain your parental energy?
 
The Third "E" of Love and Logic: Empathy
 
Those who understand the Love and Logic approach understand that consequences preceded with empathy are far more effective than consequences delivered with anger, guilt, or sarcasm. An added benefit of responding to our children's mistakes with empathy is that they'll be far more likely to admit making them. Do you want your children to be afraid of you when they blunder? Do you want them to hide their mistakes rather than bringing them to your attention? Of course you don't! That's why it's so important to discipline with love rather than lectures.

Dr. Charles Fay

Discover How Empathy Helps Kids Who've Experienced Trauma

Our hearts ache when we hear about children being hurt. A social worker with over thirty years of experience working for her county’s Child Protective Services agency put it well:
 
"After all of these years, it still hits me in the gut.  I mean the things these kids go through. I still find myself thinking,  this sort of stuff just can’t happen… it can’t be real.  No child should have to go through these things."
 
Because we care, we hate the pain they have experienced and yearn to help them heal. This motivation is wonderful. That is, as long as we also recognize that feeling sorry for kids isn’t the same thing as loving them and empowering them to heal.
 
Sympathy
 
“Feeling sorry for” someone can lead us toward unintentionally sending the unstated message:
 “This is so horrible that you’ll never be able to cope and find joy in your life.”
 
Empathy
 
“Loving” someone means purposefully sending a very different unstated message: “I can’t imagine how much this must hurt. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’m here for you. I believe in you.”
 
Consider these questions:

  • Which style, sympathy or empathy, is the most likely to result in the adult eventually feeling burned-out and even resentful toward the child?
  • Which style is more likely to result in the child feeling manipulated?
  • Which style is about the adult’s feelings? Which is about the child’s needs?
  • Do these concepts also apply to kids who haven’t experienced trauma?


Dr. Charles Fay

Homework: When to Step In, When to Step Back

Miriam was at a loss about her son, Michael. For two straight weeks, she attacked his homework folder as soon as he walked in the door, diving into it like it contained all the answers to the universe. To her chagrin, she found Michael was slacking and leaving many assignments undone or sitting in limbo.
 
She tried lectures but even her best ones seemed to fall upon closed ears. She threatened to remove all the stuff he liked but that strained their relationship. Finally fed up, she turned to her wise friend, Linda, for advice.
 
“He doesn’t seem to care,” Miriam lamented, “I don’t know what to do. When do I step in and when do I step back?”
 
Linda shared some general ideas she had learned as a Love and Logic teacher:

  • Hug your son before you hug his homework folder. You want him to know his worth has nothing to do with school performance. Tell him you love him and you’re glad to see him. Don’t even bring up schoolwork when he comes in.

  • If you do help, do so only when you’re both in a relatively good mood. Help when he asks nicely — as long as the pencil stays in his hand. Let him experience some real results of not getting work done. In general, you want him to own his grades. If you step in too much, you rob ownership from him.

Linda noted that there is always some judgment involved in deciding when to step in: Factors might include a child’s age, grade level, developmental level, personality type, and how often these problems occur.
 
Miriam decided to be more careful about stepping in and to intentionally communicate that she believed in Michael. She stopped asking about homework and allowed Michael to bring up the subject. She decided to be supportive by providing a distraction-free work area and a time in the evening (after chores) for everyone in the family to “study” and/or have a quiet time.
 
To her surprise, as her observable anxiety over Michael’s assignments lessened, Michael’s concern over his own academic performance seemed to increase. In other words, when the adult is doing all of the worrying regarding homework, the child doesn’t need to be concerned. But when the parent steps back, the responsibility lands on the child, and more times than not, they will take on the responsibility.

Picky Eaters

One of the most common problems involves kids who eat like birds. I’m not talking about ravenous birds of prey or voracious vultures. I’m talking about little “chickadees,” pecking at “seeds” on their plates and scattering most of them to the floor.
 
Remember that you’re running a home… not a restaurant.
 
Don’t say, “Do you think this is Burger King? In this house you don’t get it your way.” Saying this is definitely not loving and logical.
 
I’m simply suggesting that you provide the same meal for everyone, don’t try too hard to make everyone happy all of the time, and reply to complaining with an empathetic, “I know. This is what’s for dinner.”
 
Remember that it’s your job to provide food, but it’s not your job to make them eat it.
           
Have you ever tried to force a child to eat? This is definitely a no-win proposition.
 
Love and Logic parents inform the kids, “Guys… lunch is served until 12:30. Just get what you need to keep you going.”
 
Remember that the only essential nutrient at a family meal is love.
           
When the kids complain, “We don’t like this. We’re not eating it,” reply sweetly, “That’s okay. You don’t have to. The only real reason for meal times is for us to love on each other. The food is extra stuff… optional... you don’t really need it.”
 
Remember that tummies are the best teachers.
 
Hope and pray they don’t eat. The road to wisdom is paved with mistakes.
 
Have a spot in the refrigerator for “Emergency Food.”
           
Every family Frigidaire, GE, LG, Amana, etcetera, should have an emergency food shelf, containing fruits, vegetables… and perhaps Spam. When the kids complain, “I’m starving,” answer with empathy, “Oh… that’s really sad. Fortunately, there’s plenty of free emergency food in the fridge.”
 
If they sneak non-emergency food, they can repay you for the cost.
 
My hope is that you enjoy meals and spend time focusing on love… not on fighting with your kids over what goes into their stomachs.
  
Dr. Charles Fay
 

The Best Gift for a Teacher

Centuries ago, I presume, a tradition developed whereby parents felt compelled to provide a tangible expression of their gratitude toward teachers. The original motivations for this tradition are unclear. Some may have been prompted by genuine appreciation; others may have been spurred by guilt and attempts to atone for the unruly classroom conduct of their children; some may have darker motivations where it was hoped a small payoff would “grease the wheels” a bit toward a better grade for their child.
 
While I’m sure that most educators truly appreciate the gesture, I’m not sure how many apples an average person can eat. I wonder how many of those cute little picture frames, paper weights, plaques, and other cute thingies eventually get regifted.
 
Of course, all of us dedicated educators want to be appreciated for our hard work, long hours, and willingness to be exposed to every germ known to humankind. It’s nice to be appreciated for the fact that we choose to love kids even when they behave badly and produce noxious fumes. It’s great to be appreciated for the fact that we take classrooms full of kids with different needs, abilities, behaviors, and troubles and turn them into high-powered learning teams.
 
Great teachers are amazing!
 
The best gift we can give them involves our own parenting. The most wonderful display of our appreciation is to send them students truly ready to be respectful, responsible, and eager to learn. No doubt this gift also benefits our children, who will rise to the top when equipped with such character attributes.
 
Listed below are just a few things you can do:
 

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

Thanks for reading, and thanks for raising great kids who have what it takes to benefit from the privilege of schooling!
 
 
Dr. Charles Fay

All Kids Need Positive and Calm Role Models

"Does Love and Logic work with kids who have special needs?"
 
My answer to this immensely broad and complicated query typically has two parts.
 
Yes! Love and Logic works in a wide variety of situations 
with many types of kids… and adults… because the
primary focus is on helping the user remain healthy.
 
The healthier we remain, the healthier our children and students will become. All kids need positive and calm role models.
 
The second part of my answer deals with this fact:
 
Great parents and educators are great scientists.
 
Successful people use the following steps to determine what will work best with each special child:
 
1. Make an educated guess (i.e., "develop a hypothesis").
 
Based on their intuition about what might work best, they begin by experimenting with just one Love and Logic skill. To repeat, they start with implementing JUST ONE SKILL. Perhaps they start with staying calm and repeating, "I love you too much to argue" when their child begins to argue or starts a meltdown.
 
2. Observe how things go (i.e., "collect data").
 
As they observe, wise parents and educators remember that things will often look worse when they begin to use an effective skill. Oftentimes, there is a limited period of greater acting out as kids begin to get used to our new style. Please give this observation period at least a week or two to evaluate the effectiveness of this skill.
 
3. Evaluate the results (i.e., "analyze the data").
 
Let's say that a parent notices an interesting trend in the data: Her child, who is on the autism spectrum, responds better when she whispers, "I love you too much to argue," than when she says it just slightly louder.
 
Maybe another parent with a child on the autism spectrum sees that his child responds better when he says no words at all.
 
Maybe another parent with a child on the same spectrum sees that this technique doesn't work at all.
 
4. Implement the skill, modify it a bit, or go back to step one.
 
I humbly submit that no one knows for sure what will work with each unique child with special needs… without running plenty of small and safe experiments.
 
All in all, Love and Logic has a great track record of working with all kids with special needs. Why?
 
Because they need lots of loving patience just like the rest of us.
 
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Give Your Kids a Break - Let Them Do the Thinking

Have you noticed that more and more kids are having difficulty figuring things out for themselves? Could it be they’re being robbed of the opportunity to do so?
 
A mom I know has helped with registration at the local high school for the past ten years. This year she saw a whole new breed of parents. Rather than the kids signing themselves up, the parents were making all of the decisions.
 
When the students were being assigned lockers, one dad who was there to “help” his son insisted that he, the dad, did not like the location of the assigned locker. When the son said he thought it was fine, the dad turned to him and said, “Shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
 
This was just one of the many things this mom witnessed. She went home exhausted, and very sad: sad for a generation of kids who are being robbed of the opportunity to figure things out for themselves, and sad for our country.
 
When parents do all the thinking, they rob kids of the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and send the message that the kids are not capable of figuring things out for themselves. Give your kids the can-do message: Let them do the thinking. When they learn from their mistakes, they build character, strength, and confidence.
 

Jim Fay

Calming Sibling Rivalry: Four Quick Tips

Is it possible that some degree of sibling rivalry is normal… and can actually provide opportunities for our kids to learn essential lifelong relational skills? Absolutely! But only as long as we have common-sense skills for ensuring that these conflicts don’t grow into chronic resentment, feelings of victimization, and constant family chaos. While the subject can be a complex one, here are four tips that can help keep the family atmosphere healthy:
 
Nurture each of your children’s unique strengths and gifts.
 
When children are noticed and appreciated for their unique interests and aptitudes, they are less likely to perceive that their parents have “favourite” children. Of course, favouritism is the kiss of death when it comes to sibling relationships.
 
Provide strong and loving leadership.
 
Love and Logic is all about helping parents become… and remain… loving and strong authority figures. Much of this is achieved by providing consistent and enforceable limits. When kids feel a lack of such leadership, they experience anxiety and subconsciously wonder, “Well… if our parents aren’t running this home, I better.” Chaos among siblings ensues as they compete for this leadership position.
 
Stay out of the middle, while guiding them toward solutions.
 
Most of us struggle with the temptation to rescue our kids from each other by placing ourselves in the middle of their conflicts. When we succumb to doing so, we send an unhealthy message: “If you want some attention, all you have to do is start a fight with your brother or sister. Then I’ll swoop in to the rescue.”
 
In my audio, Sibling Rivalry, I describe how parents avoid making this mistake while guiding their children toward learning how to resolve their own conflicts.
 
Of course, we do rescue when life and limb are in obvious danger.
 
Use the “Energy Drain” technique to keep it their problem rather than yours.
 
We’ve received story after story of how parents have informed their children that bickering and arguing drains their parental energy. Of course, when this happens, kids are expected to replace this energy by completing extra chores, staying home from an activity so that their parents can rest instead of drive, etc.
 
While we can’t ensure that our kids always love and appreciate each other, we can create a home where it’s always in their best interest to work hard at doing so.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

My Teen Isn’t Ready to Drive

Mike was scared. He had a daughter who was about to turn sixteen. As if that wasn’t scary enough, Mike’s daughter, Angela, was excited to get her driver’s license and go cruising around the city with her friends.
 
To top it all off, Mike was quite certain his beloved Angela would not be a safe driver. She seemed totally focused on the fun aspect of driving and not on the responsibility. She spent lots of time texting and little time paying attention to the lessons of the road he tried to teach her. Despite his recommendations, she had saved up zero money toward the privilege.
 
What can parents do when they have teens in the house who are eager to drive but are not demonstrating readiness for this important responsibility?
 
For these situations, we really like the phrase:
 
“I’m happy to allow you the privilege of driving when I see you being responsible in other areas of life.”
 
Families get to decide what being responsible looks like in terms of chores, grades, finances, and other responsibilities kids might handle.
 
Of course, if we make this statement, we must follow through and delay the privilege until we truly see improvement in the areas of concern (particularly with youth who cannot stay off their phones at important times).
 
Please don’t fall for the myth that kids should automatically be afforded full driving privileges the day they turn sixteen, whether they have put time into saving and learning or not. We believe lives will be saved if adults refuse to make driving free and expect teens to display responsible behaviour first versus handing over keys and hoping they will be responsible behind the wheel.
 
Wise parents who are willing to delay the process for kids who aren’t ready will make the roads safer for everyone.
 
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

Is "Consequence" a Dirty Word?

I (Charles) learned an important lesson about fast food, focus, and the finality of many decisions we make. Rushing to my car, I placed the takeout package on the roof, unlocked the car, and pulled into traffic. Perceiving the honking of other drivers as pure road rage, I proceeded upon my way. It was amazing how long that meal clung to the top of my car before it flew under the tires of the F-150 behind me.
 
Our lives are full of decisions… and their consequences. They aren’t punishments. Nobody took my lunch, attempting to make me pay for my lack of focus. It was just a simple result of my lapse.
 
A few years ago, a tragic event occurred near our homes in Colorado. Some teens thought it would be fun to race around our mountain roads, taking turns “surfing” on the roof of their car. Is it possible these kids didn’t learn enough about the finality of consequences when they were younger?
 
Some who see themselves as more enlightened in the arenas of caring and compassion experience semi-aneurisms when they hear someone say, “allow kids to experience the consequences of their actions.” These are often people who care very much about kids who have experienced trauma and equate consequences with punishment. They also believe kids with trauma are capable… but not capable enough to learn from their actions. We’re confused. Do we want kids who’ve been hurt to remain victims, or do we want to empower them toward victory and self-esteem?
 
We agree that punishment, sarcasm, guilt, anger, and other negative practices do not work.
 
We disagree that consequences (or “results”) aren’t appropriate for kids who’ve had trauma. Their effectiveness just depends on how closely attached they feel toward the adult.
 
Positive relationships form the foundation of all effective discipline. The safety and security this provides allows all children to begin seeing the connections between their choices, actions, and resulting consequences. Kids who’ve experienced trauma need to experience the results of their actions… even when it doesn’t appear they are making the connection. As they experience the calmness and trust of loving attachment relationships, this cause-and-effect learning will begin to happen.
 
When delivered with love and empathy, logical consequences help provide accountability. In many cases, an element of restitution can give a child the chance to feel like he or she “made it right.” Loving accountability can help kids feel the following:
 
   I’m loved.
 
   I’m competent.
 
   I can solve problems.
 
All kids thrive when they embrace these beliefs.
 
So, we’ll charge ahead, continuing to upset those who view themselves as superior to most folks in the areas of compassion and intellect. We’ll keep holding kids accountable with plenty of empathy and grace, and we will treat them as if they are capable of learning from life’s results. We’ll just keep helping more families raise kids who feel good about themselves and their ability to thrive in this challenging world.
 
Dr. Charles Fay & Jedd Hafer

True Identity or Digital Identity?

How many young people live with constant feelings of inferiority and discontent because their self-perceptions don’t match the ideals presented in various forms of digital media? How many reach young adulthood extremely anxious about their ability to cope?
 
“I’m a loser in real life! The only time I’m not is when I’m online.”
 
As they grapple with the already challenging task of understanding themselves in relation to the world, this dangerous theme pervades the lives of far too many children, teens, and young adults. When true and digital identities battle each other for emotional territory, kids can suffer painful conflict and develop understandable escape behaviors.
 
Many dive deep into the murky waters of the Internet and video game overuse where they feel calmer, stronger, and more accepted in the cyberworld than in their true relational one. The seeds of addiction are sown. Full-blown dependency looms just around the corner.
 
Taking away their devices addresses only the tip of the iceberg. While it’s sometimes necessary, taking away their devices addresses only the tip of the iceberg. Helping them feel confident within their own skin gets at the much larger portion below the water line.
 
Denial in epic proportions
 
One might argue that most parents in America are in denial over the impact of technology overuse on their children’s identities. Teaching me to drive, both of my parents gave great advice: “Always assume someone is in your blind spot.” Applying this to parenting, it’s probably wise to assume that most us have a “blind spot” when it comes to technology and our kids.
 
Helicopters and Drill Sergeants develop dependency
 
Chronic helicopter parenting creates insecure kids who doubt their ability to make good decisions and to succeed in the real world. So does clinging to the drill sergeant model. Both styles are the enemy of healthy identity development, creating damaging anxiety and despair.
 
Consultants empower strength
 
Consultant parents empower their kids to make decisions, live with the consequences, and see that they are capable of coping. This style also preserves healthy parent-child relationships. Coping skills plus relationships serve as antidotes for depression and dependency.
 
We can’t control others
 
At the heart of consultant parenting is the awareness that we can only up the odds of healthy identity development. We cannot ensure it. Sometimes highly ineffective parents end up with strong kids… and highly competent parents experience ones with big problems. What Love and Logic does guarantee is that we can face life knowing we’ve done our best.

 
Dr. Charles Fay
 

Talking to Kids About Important Matters

Some refer to it as the ‘Lecture Lobe.”  Most of us have one… a part of our brain devoted exclusively to lecturing kids about being more responsible, eating green stuff, getting a good education, staying away from all things that might “put your eye out,” etc. For most folks, this part of the brain remains dormant… asleep… until we become parents or teachers. Then it activates! Have you ever been amazed at how easily and automatically a good lecture rolls off the tongue?
 
As they say in physics, every action has a reaction. When our lecture lobes swell, kids’ learning and listening lobes shrink. Indelibly etched into my memory is the little first-grader I lectured about his chronic hall-running. “You could slip and get brain damage", was the theme of my speech.
 
We’ve learned a lot from our own mistakes… and those made by others. We’ve learned even more by watching extremely effective parents and educators. Over the past thirty years, we’ve noticed that really successful ones understand the following concept:
 
The more words we use when kids are misbehaving or acting irresponsibly, the less effective we become.
 

Kids test us to see if we will love and accept them regardless of what they may do.
 
Questions do two powerful, important things. First, they show others that we can and want to understand their viewpoint. Secondly, they force people to do plenty of thinking. Questions create a lack of closure deep in the psyche. Humans yearn for closure and sort of go nuts when they don’t have it. Even when our kids don’t answer our questions verbally, their subconscious minds can’t resist the urge to give them plenty of thought. Some examples include:
 

•   What do you think about how you’re doing in school right now?
•   What are your ideas on whether bikes like your new one ever get stolen?
•   What are your thoughts on kids experimenting with drugs?
•   How do you think some kids put themselves in danger while chatting on the internet?

Listening to our youngsters’ opinions… even when they’re silly, strange, or downright scary… dramatically increase the odds that they’ll listen when it’s our turn to speak.
 
Let’s think about this. Do children have control over whether they listen to us… even when we don’t give them this control? You bet! Do stubborn kids know this? Yep! Whenever we pretend to have control over things we clearly do not, it erodes their respect for us… and creates a battle they cannot resist.
 
Here are a few tips to experiment with when talking with your kids about important matters:
 

•   Have plenty of short discussion rather than a few long ones.
•   Ask thoughtful and sincere open-ended questions.
•   Ask permission to share your thoughts.
•   Describe potential consequences using the “Some kids worry…” routine.
•   Provide a positive expectation.
•   If they refuse to talk, don’t fall into the trap of trying to make them.

 
We all know at least one child… or adult… who just has to learn life’s lessons the hard way. Despite all of our gallant attempts to endow them with our wisdom, they choose to take the rocky road to maturity by making plenty of mistakes and experiencing their consequences. Isn’t it interesting that the hardest lessons learned are usually the ones that teach us the very most!

 
Dr. Charles Fay

Helping Kids Learn Serendipitous Joy

The act of chasing joy is like chasing a frightened cat. The more we run after it, the more elusive it becomes. In contrast, the happiest times often pop up at the least expected times, often when we aren’t pursuing them.
 
According to most definitions, the term “serendipitous” refers to something positive 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?
 
I wasn’t thinking this through too deeply when I thought about 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. “Aw, 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. “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 and then posed for a photo.
 
While joy does seem serendipitous, we can up the odds of it by creating more times where we relate to each other without the distractions of technology or highly stimulating activities. What’s the tough part? It’s weathering the boredom storms so we can experience the rainbows.
 
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Do I Look Weak?

Teachers and parents sometimes express the following worry: “When I calmly delay a conversation or a consequence instead of squashing defiance (or other frustrating misbehaviors), do I look weak? If I don’t bring the wrath in that moment, will kids or adults who are watching think I’m a pushover?”
 
No. No, they won’t.
 
Imagine this: You’re in a restaurant enjoying a lovely meal. But some lady at the table off to your right is having the opposite of a lovely meal. And she’s bringing the wrath. She’s getting louder. She wants to see the manager. Somebody is going to pay for this! She gets more and more red faced and threatening.
 
As you watch her, what is going through your mind? She’s so powerful? She’s so impressive? You wish you could rant and rave like that?
 
Probably not. You’re probably thinking she ought to control herself and calm down. You’re probably the opposite of impressed.
 
Self-control is actually a form of strength. There is much more power in the ability to keep our cool than there is in yelling, threatening, and lecturing.
 
Some people even repeat this phrase to themselves in moments when they need to remember to remain calm: “Anger and frustration feed misbehavior. Anger and frustration feed misbehavior…”
 
Put your mind at ease. You don’t lose an ounce of power when you choose not to yell or “drop the hammer” in the heat of the moment — you gain power. By staying calm and creating a more thoughtful response, you are enhancing your authority as an adult/leader. You can do this!

 

Jedd Hafer

My Tween is Dating… And I Don’t Approve!

We love it when fans of Love and Logic send us their questions. This one… the whole “too young for dating thing” has been entering our inboxes more often. While there are a variety of plausible explanations for this uptick, including the almost unrelenting “grow-up-too-fast” messages bombarding kids via television, social media, and other avenues, explanations for why it might be happening don’t give us much guidance regarding how to respond.
 
Discussed below are four tips for reacting in ways that help avoid power struggles that can lead to severe rebellion:
 

  • Resist the Urge to Forbid the Relationship or to Ground Your Child for Life.
     
    While it’s tempting to go this route, most people understand that doing so will likely have the undesirable effect of creating serious rebellion.
     
    The key to success involves remembering the difference between the concepts of control and influence:
     
    Trying too hard to control can cause us 
    to lose them.
     
    Providing unconditional love can help us remain 
    a positive influence.
  • Send Positive Expectations About Your Child’s Ability to Make Wise Decisions.
     
    Too frequently parents create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy by lecturing, “Don’t spend time with ________. They will rub off on you.”
     
    Kids almost always live up to… or down to… our expectations of them.
     
    A wiser approach involves sharing, “________ is so fortunate to have someone like you in their life.” 
  • Plant Seeds of Cause and Effect.
     
    Remember: Avoiding discussions over tough topics deprives our kids of the guidance they need, and it sends the message they can’t handle the truth.
     
    Also remember: Statements create resistance and rebellion, whereas sincere questions create thinking.
     
    “Do you think some kids rush too quickly into having sex and really regret that they didn’t save this special thing for marriage?”
     
    “Do you think some kids make some serious mistakes about dating that can have life-long consequences? What do you think those mistakes might be?“

Hint: Talking about “some kids” is almost always more effective than talking about “you.”

  • Set Limits Over What You Can Control.
     
    All children need loving limits, particularly when they’re feeling pressure to engage in risky dating behaviors. Love and Logic parents set healthy ones like:
     
    “Feel free to go to _______ as long as an adult I trust is supervising.”
     
    “I will take you and ___________ to __________ as long as I can come with you. I promise to do my best not to embarrass you.”
     
    “You may use the car when I don’t have to worry about where you are or when you’ll be home.”

The biggest factor involves the relationship: Not their “dating” relationship but our parent-child relationship. The stronger the connection, the less likely our kids will find a need to rebel or search for affection in inappropriate ways. The more peaceful and positive we can make our homes, the less our kids will need to find other places… or people… to meet the needs for fun and inclusion.

 
Dr. Charles Fay

My Child Doesn't Have Friends

Tim’s mom used to worry that he had very few friends. She told us he didn’t socialize much with the other kids. He didn’t have friends over like other kids did and he seemed mostly content to just sit at home by himself.
 
She had already realized that when she tried to force the issue, it often made things worse. If she tried to get her friends to make their kids come over, invite him to things and spend time together without some mutual interest, it mostly backfired.
 
The story got happier. While the problem didn’t magically get better right away, she did share some factors that helped improve things over time.
 
What helped?
 
She got him off screens – the more time he spent on screens, the worse his issues with peers seemed to get.
 
They played a lot of board games versus watching videos. Even quiet kids have to look up, respond, and interact when playing board games. Plus, games have some structure and a beginning and end.
 
She kept up his chores and contributions to the family. There is a powerful sense of belonging that is forged as we work and contribute together.
 
And the number one thing that helped?
 
He got a part-time job at a local shop (money is a pretty strong motivator for some teens and tweens – especially if we’re not buying them everything they want).
 
The results were amazing. Every day Tim was “forced” to greet customers and smile, he grew more comfortable. The necessity of doing this well, caused him to improve and he became much more adept in other social situations.
 
Mom reports he’s still more of a loner than some kids but he is able to get along in a variety of situations without feeling the discomfort he used to feel. And best of all, a few nice kids have really been drawn to him “because they can tell he’s just a good guy.”
 
Jedd Hafer

Toby Skips Class

Toby was admitting to his mom that he had skipped one of his classes six times.
 
“Oh, no,” responded Mom. “You’re going to fail that class.”
 
“No, Mom. I’m not going to fail. You worry about everything. It’s no big deal.”
 
“Wait a minute,” she answered. “The school rule says that five unexcused absences earn a failing grade.”
 
“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m covered.”
 
“Wait a minute. You didn’t commit forgery, did you?”
 
“Yeah, Mom. But it’s no big deal. Everybody does it.”
 
Believe it or not, Mom called a national talk show asking for advice about how to handle the problem without letting Toby fail the class.
 
If I were to ask you about this, you’d probably tell me that Toby needs to face the music. He needs to confess and learn from the situation. And you would be right.
 
Toby’s mother can either stand between his bad decision and the consequences, or she can stand beside him, supporting him as he learns from it. She can’t do both.
 
I’d suggest that she say to Toby, “What a sad situation, Toby. How do you want to confess? Do you want to do it in person, in writing, or would you rather have me help you by going with you to the principal’s office? I bet you might like a hug right now. I know that I do.”
 
Jim Fay

Is the Road to Communication Really Open?

Is it true that some people are easier to talk to than others? When I was a teenager… perhaps centuries ago… we had a clear way of responding to obvious questions like this: “Duh!”
 
Certain people have a way about them that leaves us feeling we can share our deepest thoughts and concerns. We feel safe, knowing they will never reject us or freak out in any way.
 
How important is it that we remain this type of person to our kids? Does this increase the likelihood they’ll make good decisions about drugs, alcohol, dating, driving, their education, and the variety of nursing home they eventually select for us?
 
Our kids observe us with keen eyes and ears, subconsciously evaluating whether we are someone with whom they can share their lives. The more tests we pass, the more likely they’ll come to us when they are hurting or facing temptation. Discussed below are three common tests.
 
Test: Are you going to freak out?

A dad described how his son started early: “At age seven, he nonchalantly approached me and said, ‘I don’t think telling the truth is so important. Lying isn’t a big deal.’”

This father continued, “I was so thankful for Love and Logic, because it taught me to avoid losing it in these situations. I just replied, ‘Thanks for sharing your opinion,’ and I walked away. Over the years, I’ve noticed that this is his way of seeing if I’ll get upset.”
 
Test: Do you really care?
 

It can also be harmful to remain silent over important values. As parents, we have an obligation to guide our kids. One strategy for doing so involves listening to their opinion and then asking questions about possible consequences. For example, “I appreciate you sharing that with me. Do you think that __________________ might happen if a person did that?”


Test: Do you really believe in me?
 

Lectures poison relationships. They do so because they communicate a lack of belief in others. 

Some of the messages they send are, “I don’t believe you are capable of evaluating the potential consequences of the choices you face. I’m not sure you are bright enough to learn from the mistakes you make. I don’t trust that you can learn without being told multiple times.”

When we use fewer words, and more thoughtful questions, we send a far more empowering message:


“If any kid could figure out how to make healthy decisions 
about this, you’d be that kid!”
 
Test anxiety can be debilitating. That’s why it’s best to remember that you don’t have to always and perfectly pass each of these tests to raise great kids. The key is demonstrating the desire and the drive to improve each and every day.
 
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Gaining the Respect You Desire

I was tempted to title this article, “Gaining the Respect you Deserve.” My reluctance involves the common psychological result of believing that we’re owed something. When I believe that my kids must respect me because I inherently deserve it as their elder and their provider, I set the stage for resentment and damaged relationships.
 
Something better… purer… more noble… happens when we view respect as something we want for both parties. This implies that this important commodity is something that’s learned and earned through experience.
 
Respect is Learned and Earned
 
Sooner or later most kids develop sewage detectors. This sophisticated network of neurons allows them to sniff out the slightest hint of hypocrisy. When we believe we deserve, and therefore must demand respect, we are likely to behave in ways that trigger this alarm. Demanding respect due to our perceived entitlement to it usually leads us toward failing to walk the talk.
 
Let’s consider how a Love and Logic parent or educator might discuss the concept of respect:

  •  “I believe the best way to gain respect is to show people what it looks like.
  • Because of this, I promise to do my best to treat you like I hope to be treated.
  • I’m not perfect. There will be times when I mess up.
  • If you ever feel I’ve been disrespectful, please let me know by whispering, “I’m not sure that’s respectful.” When both of us are calm, I’ll listen to your opinion.
  • Respect doesn’t mean I will always do what makes you happy in the short term. Instead, it means I will do what will help you enjoy a responsible life. 
  • Respect means seeking the good of others… even when doing so isn’t popular. 

Kids tend to demonstrate the greatest respect for adults who are both loving and powerful. That’s the love and logic of Love and Logic.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Why Gaining Respect Requires Limits

Many parents and educators struggle with feeling disrespected by their kids or students. Does this resonate with you? Do you ever find yourself thinking, “Why does this kid think it’s okay to treat me like this?” or “I go out of my way to treat these kids well. Why do they act like I’m stupid?”
 
Disrespectful behavior (eye-rolling, arguing, defiance, lying, etc.) is often a form of limit testing, which is a young person’s way of asking this important question: “Do you love me enough to provide the caring boundaries required to keep me safe from myself?” When limits over respect are inconsistent or weak, disrespectful behavior increases. The child’s self-concept suffers, and they lack the modeling required to learn how to set limits with their peers.
 
The ability to say “no” to peers starts with experiencing
“no” from one’s parents.
 
Those familiar with Love and Logic know limits are most effectively provided when we describe what we are willing to do or allow, rather than trying to tell others how they should behave. Describing our own actions provides an enforceable limit. Dictating the actions of another does not.
 

“Treat me with respect!” is unenforceable.

“I’m happy to do the extra things I do for you when I feel respected” is enforceable.


Is it okay for a parent or educator to calmly and consistently provide perks only when they feel respected? Absolutely! In fact, it’s essential. While our children certainly won’t thank us in the short term, we can be assured that doing so provides the type of limits and security they need.
 
A Love and Logic mom recently described how she began the process of gaining her thirteen-year-old son’s respect:
 

Son: “It’s time for you to take me to practice. Why are you just sitting there?”

Mom: “Oh, this is so sad. It’s just really hard for me to want to do the extra things I do for you when I keep hearing how dumb you think I am.”

Son: “I was just kidding! Why do you make such a big deal out of everything? It’s time to go.”

Mom: “Maybe by next week at this time, I’ll feel better about taking you. I sure hope so.”

 
She held firm and experienced the predictable onslaught of arguing, pouting, and guilt-trips.

“Over the past few months,” she reflected, “I see him becoming a lot calmer and more respectful. I think he’s realizing that I care enough about myself to expect respect. It’s really improved our relationship!” 

 

Dr. Charles Fay

Teach Your Kids How to Wait

The life of an author/public speaker usually revolves around trying to turn some seemingly unrelated life experience into a metaphor for use in a book chapter, article, or speech. Right now… right at this moment… I’m waiting in line at our local Motor Vehicle Department. It’s often the small things in life that bring us the most joy.
 
Is waiting part of life? Is learning patience something that will benefit our kids immensely as they travel the winding, and often traffic-jammed road of life? If they don’t, will their road end up being far rougher?
 
You’ve probably noticed that kids are not born with this skill, and many are not shy about demonstrating their lack of appreciation for anything that delays the immediate delivery of their desires. While this is normal for young children, a danger lies in how it can train us to jump through hoops trying to keep them calm. The faster we give them what they want, the less whining, begging, hassling, and chaos we experience in the short term.
 
Yes, in the short term all seems well.
 
Brave parents understand they can pay now or pay bigger. As such, they embrace the short-term commotion, wisely allowing their kids to experience the healthy struggle of wait time. These parents may provide some brief suggestions to their kids, such as:

“Some kids decide to concentrate about something they really like. Sometimes that makes the time go faster.”

“Some kids decide to repeat to themselves, ‘I can do this. I can do this. I’m big. I can do this.’”

“Some kids decide to bring a book to read.”

 
Wise parents also demonstrate this skill in front of their kids. Of course, this can be the most challenging part for many of us. While in traffic, while waiting in line at the store, they allow their kids to hear their thoughts. They think out loud:

“Waiting is hard. Sometimes it’s not very fun. But… it’s such good practice. Good things come to those who wait!”

Finally, Love and Logic parents notice when their young ones do a good job of waiting, and they demonstrate that good things come to those who wait. While we don’t believe in going overboard with rewards, it is fun and effective to occasionally provide a small one.

“I noticed that you waited the entire time I was on the phone without interrupting. What do you think about going for ice cream?” 

Is the ability to delay gratification one of the most important skills we can give our kids?
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Keeping the Holidays Sane for Your Kids

Little ones thrive on routine and structure, the two things that tend to go by the wayside when the holidays arrive and families are running to and fro, gathering gifts, visiting relatives, and connecting with friends. Listed below are some tips for keeping things sane during this busy time of the year:
 
Set limits with family and friends.
 
Some people fear setting limits with their parents, in-laws, other family members, and friends because they worry about upsetting them. The only people who get upset by loving limits are people who really need them!
 
Don't be afraid to say things like, “We can’t wait to see you. We will need to leave by six so that we can get the kids in bed by a reasonable hour.”
 
Continue to set limits with your kids.
 
Sometimes we avoid setting limits with our children at family get-togethers because we want to keep the peace or avoid meltdowns. Ironically, this leads to far more fits and far less harmony.
 
Plan ahead and provide a quiet spot for recovery.
 
Particularly with small children, ask family and friends, “Is there a quiet place where my little one can go for some recovery time if they start to test limits or get overstimulated?”
 
I vividly remember being sent to my grandparents’ bedroom as a result of being unruly during a Christmas meal. I also remember lying on their bed, screaming, punching their pillows, and falling fast asleep. I was worn out!
 
Don’t feel guilty about placing yourself in recovery.
 
I love my family… but I still find it helpful to give myself some brief “bathroom time” so that I can regain the ability to exercise self-control.
 
Remember that this too shall pass.
 
Despite the best laid plans, sometimes the wheels come off and things get ugly. At these times, it’s often comforting to remember that every situation… bad and even good… is merely temporary.

Dr. Charles Fay

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

Helping Kids Learn from Mistakes

Have you ever ruined a really good lesson with an “I told you so”? I know I have. Human nature just makes it difficult to resist “sharing our wisdom” at the wrong times.
 
Here are some thoughts on helping kids learn better from their own mistakes as well as learning from our mistakes.
 
The short version is: Save the “I told you so!” for when you mess up (lecture yourself out loud about what you learned) and pour on the empathy (mostly silent empathy) when kids make mistakes. This is not always easy to pull off, but kids tend to learn best from their own mistakes when we resist the urge to do a lot of explaining about what they should be learning.
 
It’s amazing how human beings, once told what they should be learning, resist the lesson. The focus can shift to the power struggle over whether or not they are going to learn what we want them to learn (or not).
 
Again, the experiment is simple:
 

  1. When you mess up, talk out loud (within range of their ears) about what you learned and how you aspire to do better next time.
  2.  When they mess up, resist the urge to say “I told you so” and let empathy and the results do most of the teaching.

 
You can learn more about these ideas in Dr. Charles Fay’s incredibly helpful book Parenting for Success.
 
Jedd Hafer

District Emergency

To address the growing number of COVID-19 cases across the province, Alberta’s government has introduced a series of new COVID-19 measures that will impact our communities and schools. Please CLICK HERE to learn more about how these measures may impact your student.