Love and Logic

Technology Addiction

Even though the problems associated with kids and technology seem to be getting worse rather than getting better, it has been a problem for many years. Over ten years ago, in 2011, we received the following from one of our customers:

“My typically nice and responsible kid turns into a monster after he plays his computer games.”

If you’ve noticed this or similar behaviors with your kids, you’re not alone. This week we will revisit why this is so common, as well as actions that we can take to protect our kids.

Electronic Games can be Extremely Addictive

Because most video games operate according to variable schedules of reinforcement (the user cannot entirely predict when something exciting will happen) our kids get hooked into thinking that they “need to play just a little bit longer” each to time.

Even educational games present these risks. To grab the attention of the learner, our kids’ favorite games are highly entertaining—and stimulating. Is it any wonder that kids who spend too much time glued to these games find everything else boring?

Real-life is always a downer when you’re hooked on electronic uppers.

The symptoms of withdrawal also reflect the addictive nature of these games: Irritability, extreme moodiness, and attempts to get a “fix” even if it requires manipulating and mistreating those who love you the most.

Set Enforceable Limits

Children under 5 should spend almost no time playing video games, computer games, or watching television. This also applies to educational games and shows.

Many older children must spend a significant amount of time on computers and the internet due to school requirements. However, they should not spend an excessive amount of additional time each day playing video games or using the internet for entertainment purposes. Wise parents set the following limit:

I allow video games, computer games, or TV shows in our home only when they are causing no problems.

Wise parents also don’t hesitate to remove these items from the home when “problems” begin.

Replace Electronic Screens with Loving Relationships

Kids don’t miss their computers and TVs nearly as much when they have parents who spend plenty of time with them playing catch, riding bikes, sledding, or doing other sorts of good old-fashioned things that build relationships. When you build these kinds of relationships while kids are very young, and you will find that they are less likely to become addicted to technology.

Charles Fay, Ph.D.

Helicopter Grandparents

Recently we have had several grandparents call us asking for advice about how they can use the principles and techniques of Love and Logic with their grandkids. It might be because many grandparents are spending more time with their grandkids during this time of year! Some grandparents have had previous experience with Love and Logic, but many are new to our approach. We have found that grandparents and kids alike can benefit from Love and Logic.

Many grandparents, just like many parents, tend to be helicopter grandparents. They are eager to swoop in to rescue their grandchildren. This behavior is ultimately based in their love, but rescuing by parents or grandparents is not always beneficial in the long run for kids.

There are many problems that children face, including getting to school on time, being hassled by other kids, keeping their grades up, feeling lazy, and making poor choices of friends, just to name a few. These problems often involve conflicts between the child and others, or between the child and herself or himself. They are also very tempting situations for rescuing by a loving grandparent.

Grandparents who intervene or rescue with these sorts of problems often think that they are showing their love for the grandchild. However, it is important to understand that when we fix things for our kids, they cannot learn how to fix things on their own. We believe that most of time children can find their own solutions. If there is good chance that children can solve their own problems, we should let them.

When a grandchild is facing a difficult situation, the grandparent can apply the principles of Love and Logic and help by handing the problem to the grandchild using the following five steps:

  • Show empathy to the grandchild

  • Imply that the grandchild is smart enough to find a solution to the problem by asking, “How do you think you’re going to handle this?”

  • Ask permission to share alternatives

  • Help the grandchild look at the consequences of the alternatives

  • Let the grandchild decide to solve or not to solve the problem

Dr. Charles Fay

Strengthening Your Child’s Heart

The holiday season is a time for giving and receiving, and many kids are greatly excited about being given-to. I like being given-to, too! It’s great. I know very few people who don’t enjoy receiving. The weird thing, however, is that the rush of getting stuff tends to wear off quickly. Perhaps you’ve noticed this with your kids. Maybe you’ve even noticed this with yourself.

Being on the other end, that is giving to others, also feels good. Generosity warms the giver’s heart and builds “heart muscle.” We all want our kids to have strong hearts, built on the steady exercise regime of giving.

Pumping weights, jogging, swimming, and other forms of exercise are not much fun when done for the first time. They make us dizzy, cause sweat to drain from our pores, and create a major soreness hangover the next day. Only when our muscles begin to strengthen do we start to enjoy these activities. Once in the habit, they become enjoyable.

The same goes for being a giver. Many kids need a large amount of gentle, yet firm, prodding to begin the process of cardiac strengthening. They also need someone to show them how it’s done.

This time of year is a great time to place an exclamation point on the importance of continued generosity. Here are some ways that you can teach your kids the joy of giving:

  • Allow children to grow through their mistakes

  • Suggest that they buy a less fortunate child something brand new.

  • Expect them to give their grandparents, other relatives, or neighbors the gift of a shoveled sidewalk, a dusted home, a spic and span garage, etc. Doing for others is extremely heart healthy.

  • Volunteer as a family to feed the hungry.

  • Show them how to do all these things with a joyful attitude.

All in all, the best thing we can give our kids is a giver attitude. While it takes plenty of reps, it will eventually build them into people with strong and loving hearts. We hope you have a wonderful holiday season with plenty of giving.

Dr. Charles Fay

Keeping the Holidays Sane for You and Your Kids

The holiday season is upon us and we want to give you some perspectives for keeping sane. Our best holiday memories usually stem not from perfect planning and organization, but from the joy of being together and doing things together. It was the laughter. It was choosing to laugh and enjoy each other when the choices were to laugh or cry. Holidays are times for enjoying each other, regardless of whether or not everything is perfect.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy a perfectly imperfect holiday season this 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.”

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 holiday 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 our 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 or good, is merely temporary and will pass.

Jim and Dr. Charles Fay

Two Principles of Love and Logic

In recent months, we have received calls from many parents who are struggling with their kids’ behavior and wanting to know how Love and Logic works. At first, the Love and Logic approach might sound complicated, but it’s truly very simple—and very effective.

What is Love and Logic?

Love and Logic is a parenting approach based on two principles:

  • Allow children to grow through their mistakes

  • Allow children to learn from the consequences of their choices

In other words, we hand over the responsibility for a child’s decisions to the child and let the consequences of their decisions do the teaching.

The Love and Logic Process

How do parents put these principles into practice? The process is based on four concepts: sharing control, sharing thinking and decision-making, combining empathy with consequences, and ensuring that the child’s self-concept is maintained. Here’s how it works:

  • Shared Control. Many parents try to control their child’s behavior, which often backfires. With Love and Logic, parents learn to gain control by giving away control they don’t need to the child.

  • Shared Thinking and Decision-making. Parents provide opportunities for kids to do as much thinking and decision-making as possible.

  • Equal Shares of Consequences and Empathy. When parents respond without anger and use empathy instead, children are able think about their choices and then learn from their mistakes.

  • Maintain the Child’s Self-concept. Allowing kids to make their own choices and learn from their mistakes leads to improved self-concept, resulting in improved behavior and improvement achievement.

One of the hallmarks of the Love and Logic approach is using empathy when kids make mistakes, rather than responding with anger. By using empathy, parents strengthen their relationship with their kids and give their kids the opportunity to learn how to make healthy decisions on their own.

Love and Logic encourages parents to avoid anger and getting sucked into solving the child’s problem. Instead, they learn to hand the responsibility for solving the problem back to the child by responding with statements such as:

“That’s terrible. How are you going to handle that?”

“Hmm, that’s really an interesting way of looking at it. Let me know how that turns out for you.”

“Really? I know you, and I’m sure you’ll come up with something.”

Dr. Charles Fay

The Three E's of Love and Logic

As each holiday season begins, it is always important to help your kids truly understand what it means to be thankful. If you are like me, you probably have heard yourself say something like, “You should be thankful for the things you have! When I was a kid….” All of us experience “skill slippage” from time to time: Yes! Even us Love and Logic guys have had our not-so-great parenting moments!

Do our kids really learn life’s most important lessons by being lectured? Thankfulness, like just about everything else, is only learned via the Three Es of Love and Logic.

Example
Do we show our kids how thankful we are for what we have, or do they see us grumbling and complaining about what we don’t have?

Kids need to witness us being sincerely thankful for the air we breathe, our health, making it home from work without having a car accident, the food we have, the water we drink, and the family we have.

Experience
Giving kids everything that they ask for can lead to them always to expect to get whatever they want. Although we certainly don’t advocate depriving kids of the things that they need, will they ever experience true thankfulness if they are given everything that they want without having to wait or work for it?

Empathy
Parents who use anger, lectures, threats, or punishment to coerce their children into being thankful, will find that they create resentment and rebellion instead.

Parents who demonstrate their genuine empathy and love as they allow their children to learn sometimes uncomfortable lessons about humility and thankfulness are far more likely to raise kids with an attitude of gratitude.

Be thankful and enjoy your kids this holiday season!.

Dr. Charles Fay

The Power of Empathy

Those familiar with Love and Logic hear a great deal about empathy and know that sincere empathy characterizes our approach. In fact, it’s the hub around which our entire approach revolves. In the home or classroom (in person or remote), whenever we precede consequences with a sincere dose of compassion and concern, we increase the odds that the child will view their poor decision as to the “bad guy” while continuing to perceive us as the “good guy.”

Consequences provided with anger result in resentment.

Consequences proceeded by empathy build personal responsibility.

Empathy is about a sincere desire to understand another’s feelings.
It is not flippant, “I know how you feel” or “I’m so sorry.”

Empathy is an honest message of caring.
It is not about manipulating or instilling guilt.

Empathy is about maintaining emotional boundaries while showing concern.
It is not about making the other person’s problem our own.

Empathy is about modelling confidence and strength.
It is not about demonstrating weakness.

Empathy is about forgiving others as well as forgiving ourselves.
It is not about trying to be perfect.

With Gratitude,
Love and Logic Teams

Communication tips for parents

If children are going to survive and thrive in tomorrow’s complex world, they need to practice solving as many problems as possible… today! The following process is designed to get kids thinking more about their problems than we do.

Step 1: Provide a strong and sincere dose of empathy.

Empathy allows the child to stay calm enough to solve the problem… and learn from it. Experiment with saying something like:

Oh no. This is a problem. I bet that’s really upsetting.

Step 2: Hand the problem back.

After you have proven that you care, ask:

What do you think you might do to solve this problem?

Don’t be shocked if the child mumbles, “I don’t know.”

Step 3: Ask permission to share what “some kids” have tried.

Avoid giving suggestions until you have asked:

Would you like to hear what some other kids have tried?

Step 4: Provide two or three alternatives for solving the problem.

Remember to avoid resistance by saying:

Some kids decide to _______________________________________.

How would that work for you?

Step 5: Allow the child to solve or not to solve the problem.

Resist the urge to tell the child which alternative to pick.

End the session by showing your faith in the child and say:

Good luck! Let me know how this turns out.

How Early Can We Start?

Recently customers have called and asked us, “How early in our child’s life can we start using Love and Logic?” “As soon as they can crawl over and grab something they aren’t supposed to have,” is typically my answer. We have learned over the past 40 years that the principles of Love and Logic apply to all ages, from babies to teenagers. They can even be used with adults!

One of the basic principles of Love and Logic is: Share Control Within Limits. Most little ones begin to crawl around and test limits anywhere between six and eight months of age. This is the prime time to begin teaching them two things based on this principle:

  • That you love them enough to set limits

  • That you are willing to enforce the limits you set with consistency

Here’s what it can look like. Sweet little Sara crawls over to the table, pulls herself up, and starts grabbing for her Mom’s coffee mug, the remote control, or some other forbidden item. In a loving yet firm tone, Mom sings, “Uh Oh!” and gently picks Sara up, and places her in her playpen, highchair, or some other spot that’s safe. Mom knows that the fewer words and less attention she provides at this time, the quicker Sara will learn.

Sara doesn’t need to be in there long at this age! All it takes is just three or four minutes for her to miss being able to crawl around and explore. When this time’s up, Mommy just puts her right back on the floor and starts over.

When we love people, we will also set healthy limits. When parents combine healthy limits with the phrase “Uh oh,” their very young kids get a head start on learning how to behave! 

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Tips to Teach Kids About Money Management—and Responsibility

When I was young, my parents set up an allowance for me—and taught me a valuable lesson about money management. They told me I would get a weekly allowance and then they explained the rules. Of course, I didn’t focus on the rules—I was overjoyed just at having money that I could spend any way that I wanted!

That same week, we went to the carnival as a family. I had a great time and spent my entire allowance on all sorts off exciting things. I didn’t give it a second thought because the money was mine to spend any way I chose. However, the following Monday morning I realized I had a problem—one of those pesky rules. I was supposed to use my allowance to pay for my lunch at school.

I went to my Dad and asked him what I was going to do for lunch. He replied, “Go over to your pay envelope and get your lunch money out.” I told him it was all gone. With genuine empathy he said, “Oh no, that’s really too bad. What are you going to do about that?” I replied, “I don’t know, can I get some food out of the refrigerator and make a lunch?” He said, “Sure, if you can afford to pay for it. Mom and I have already paid you for lunches once, and we don’t want to pay for them again.”

That week was tough for me at school because I had to skip lunch and only had two meals a day. Even though my parents made sure that there was plenty of food at those two meals, I learned a big lesson in money management.

Love and Logic parents use allowances to teach their kids money management—and responsibility. When kids struggle with money at an early age, they learn not only to be more fiscally responsible, but this lesson helps them be responsible in all areas of life. Here are some helpful rules for allowances that can help your kids get the most out of this terrific learning experience.

Rule One: Children do not earn their allowance
We do not pay them to do chores. Kids should see chores as contributing their fair share of the family workload. We only pay them for chores when they do our chores.

Rule Two: Provide the allowance at the same time every week
Put the cash for the allowance in an envelope and include a small invoice that lists the breakdown of the allowance (for example, a child might have $2 for spending and $8 for lunch money). You can add a message, such as, “Because we love you. Spend it wisely and make it last.”

Rule Three: Never insist that children save the allowance
In general, people learn to save money only after they have experienced being broke. It can be difficult for parents to let their kids go broke, but it will be a lesson that their kids will remember.

Rule Four: As long as they are not engaged in illegal activity, allow children to spend, save, or waste the money any way that they see fit
They can use their money any way they want. For example, they can pay others to do their chores. Here’s the catch—when the money’s gone, it’s gone. No more allowance until the next week’s envelope.

These rules are based on one of the fundamental principles of Love and Logic—let the consequences do the teaching. 

Dr. Charles Fay

Never Let Them See You Sweat

A few years ago, I watched a child giving his mother fits in a store. When Mom noticed that the boy’s behavior was drawing attention, she lost what little control she had and screamed, “That does it! I’ve had it with you! Now I’m not buying you anything!” In a feeble attempt to emphasize her power, she added, “And I mean it!”

Sensing that his mom was now at the end of her rope, he looked right into her eyes and yelled, “I hate you and you’re not going to tell me what to do.”

As I watched, I was filled with sadness for both the child and his mother. I managed to get next to this mother in the checkout line. I handed her my card with a note on the back to send it to the Love and Logic Institute for a free copy of one of our audios. I received a wonderful letter a few months later telling me all about the success she was having with her son.

After listening to Love and Logic Magic When Kids Drain Your Energy, Mom created a plan for dealing with Zachary and his acting out at the store. The very next day they went shopping. True to form, Zachary started begging for things. In her calm, rehearsed voice, Mom said, “Not a good idea, Zachary. I have to shop without listening to that.”

He immediately yelled, “All the other kids get stuff when they go to the store!” Then he grabbed two toys off the shelf and threw them into her shopping cart. Mom whispered, “That was a really bad decision, Zachary. I’m going to have to do something about that, but not here in the store. Try not to worry about it now.”

Mom had learned the following principle from listening to Love and Logic Magic When Kids Drain Your Energy:

Warning kids of a consequence reduces the power of the consequence.

This idea helped her while she implemented the rest of her plan. She phoned a friend who agreed to serve as a rather boring, yet humane babysitter. Mom did not tell Zachary what was going to happen.

When the next shopping day arrived, Mom’s friend came to the door at 10 a.m. Mom said, “Zachary, I’m going to finish my shopping now. It’s going to be a great day. This is so sad. I don’t have the energy to listen to begging and arguing. So that’s why you’ll be staying home with Jenny while I go shopping. You will need to decide how you are going to pay her for her time. I know you don’t have any money, so you will need to bargain to see which toys she’ll accept as payment.”

Mom had a wonderful time shopping, making sure that she was eating an ice cream bar as she walked in the door. She asked, “Hi Zachary. How did it go?”

“She made me pay with my remote-control car, and it’s new!” he whined.

A few days later, Zachary started throwing a fit about not getting a meal with a toy in a restaurant. Mom looked at him and sang, “Uh oh, Zachary. Do you think that might be a bad decision?” Zachary’s eyes got very wide. He became unusually quiet and stopped complaining.

Mom ended her letter by saying, “Thanks for making my life a whole lot easier!”

Jim Fay

My Teacher is Mean!

Enough time has passed in this unusual school year for parents to start hearing a usual complaint from their kids about teachers. How do wise parents respond when they hear, “My teacher is mean!” from their youngster.

Because we care deeply for our kids, we always want to help them with the problems that they face. Sometimes our efforts might not be the best for our kids in the long run. There are two common traps that are far too easy to slip into. Here are examples of these two traps:

Trap #1: Mary’s well-meaning mom says, “Don’t worry, honey, I’ll give her a call and get this straightened out for you.”

Is Mary learning how to solve her own problems? No!

Trap #2: Freddy’s well-meaning dad says, “Well, if you would just work a little harder on your homework, I’m sure that she would get off your case.”

Uh, oh! What are the chances that Freddy’s dad will end up in a run-down nursing home someday?

Love and Logic parents know that empathy is the most important skill. They also know that kids need to learn how to succeed with all teachers, nice ones as well as demanding ones. These parents might respond with empathy, saying:

“That’s got to be rough. Would you like to hear how some kids get along with tough teachers?”

Kids learn to solve problems and be responsible when we resist the urge to rescue or lecture.

Dr. Charles Fay

The Best Way to Feel Good Is to Do Something Good

In last week’s newsletter, we focused on setting limits around the use of technology and social media by our children. Because social media can have a significantly negative effect on self-concept, it is very important to focus not only setting limits around technology and social media use but also on helping our kids develop a healthy, positive self-concept.

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

Due to its undisputed importance, people have spent tremendous energy trying different approaches to give kids good self-concept. Listed below are just a few of the many practices that have created kids who have a rather poor sense of self:

  • Constant praise

  • Ensuring that they are always the center of attention

  • Making sure that they never encounter any hardships

  • Buying them everything they want

  • Rescuing them from the consequences of their misbehavior

  • Setting no limits so that they can “express their creativity”

  • Allowing unrestricted access and use of social media

There’s only one approach that really works, and it’s based on the following age-old truism:

The best way to feel good is to do something good.

When parents place a high emphasis on good and respectful behavior, children look at themselves and think, “I act pretty darn good and responsible. I must be pretty darn good and responsible.”

True self-concept is developed when children encounter struggles in the real world (not the digital world), learn how to overcome these struggles, and then see themselves acting in respectful and responsible ways. Stated quite simply, self-concept is an inside job. The best antidote to the negative effects of social media is helping our kids develop a healthy self-concept.

Dr. Charles Fay

Taming the Technology Monster in Your Home

We are hearing more recently about the effects of technology on our teens. In recent editions of this newsletter, we provided insights into the effects of technology and social media on kids and what parents can do to mitigate the influence of technology on their kids. This newsletter will look at how limits can further help parents with this increasingly difficult problem.

Do you ever feel like your child’s cell phone, game console, or computer has taken over your home? Although these devices can be wonderful tools for communication, learning, and healthy enjoyment, they can also become dark and destructive influences in the absence of necessary parental supervision and limits. Below are a few examples of enforceable limits that we, as parents, can provide:

  • You may have your computer in the living room, not in your room.

  • You may be on the internet, as long as I’m allowed to review your internet history.

  • You may be on social media, as long as I can have access to your accounts.

  • Feel free to have a cell phone, as long as you can pay for the service.

  • You may keep your cell phone, as long as you are not using it during meals, at religious gatherings, in class, or while driving.

  • I allow kids to use technology in my home, as long as I feel that they are being respectful and responsible.

  • I immediately donate to charity any devices used to view or send pornography.

Although we can’t control what our kids do when they are away from home, we can set good, solid limits when they’re under our roofs. If they complain, “You don’t trust me!” reply, “I don’t even trust myself. Lots of good people get in trouble with technology. That’s why I always make sure that your dad knows what I’m doing on my computer, too.”

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Easing Separation Anxiety

Over the years, many parents have asked me about how to deal with separation anxiety. Now that many young children have spent more time than usual at home over the past year or so, this concern seems to be more common and, in some cases, the separation anxiety seems to be more intense. Parents often ask me, “How do I help my child feel less anxious about going to preschool, school, daycare, or the babysitter?”

If you have kids, the odds are pretty high that you’ve pondered this question and wondered what to do. Listed below are some quick tips to help you ease your children’s anxiety:

  • Remember that kids take their emotional cues from the adults around them.
    The calmer and more business-like that we act, the easier it’ll be for our kids.

  • Avoid doing too much reassuring.
    Strangely, the more we talk with our little ones about how much fun they are going to have, the more anxiety they seem to have. It’s as though they are thinking, “If my parents have to tell me this is going to be okay, maybe it won’t!”

  • Make the transition short and sweet.
    The quicker you move, the faster your child will calm down once you leave.

  • Don’t look back.
    Although it’s difficult to resist the urge to go back and comfort your child, he or she will calm down much quicker if you keep going and don’t look back.

Each child responds differently as they venture into the outside world and some separation anxiety is normal and healthy. Generally speaking, tots who are very secure when they are with their parents are the ones who feel the most secure when they are away from their parents. A large part of providing this security involves combining big doses of love with good, solid limits.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Encourage Your Kids To Entertain Themselves

Many children spend their first few years of life being entertained by electronic devices, television, and exciting toys with batteries. These kids often lack critical skills for success in school. That’s the bottom line. Children who spend their early years playing in the sandbox, coloring with crayons, chasing butterflies, and stomping around in mud puddles have been given a great gift. The skills they develop through these simple, yet important activities foster success from preschool through graduate school. That’s the good news.

Unfortunately, too many loving, intelligent, and well-meaning parents fall into the trap of believing that “good parents” keep their children entertained and stimulated every moment of the day. When they see their children getting “bored,” they quickly intervene with an electronic device or a fun activity. As a result, their youngsters spend way too much time pushing the buttons on exciting electronic toys, staring at screens, and riding in the car from one activity to another. Sadly, little or no time is left over for running, playing, and being creative. Children who’ve been constantly entertained grow into adults who are constantly bored.

Love and Logic parents give their kids an advantage in life by understanding that children need plenty of opportunities to find themselves in a rather dull or “boring” situation. Why? Because these situations encourage youngsters to develop and practice creative ways of entertaining themselves—and exploring the vast and exciting frontiers of imagination and creative problem solving.

Because they know the importance of creative play and exploration for healthy development of young brains, Love and Logic parents provide plenty of Love and Logic “Boredom Training Sessions.” Here are the five steps for a “Boredom Training Session”:

Step 1:
Plan for providing dull periods of time in your home.

Step 2:
Provide plenty of materials and toys that foster creativity.

Step 3:
Pray that your child will come to you and say, “I’m bored.”

Step 4:
Place primary responsibility for solving this “boredom problem”on your child.

Step 5:
“Notice and describe” when your child is playing independently. You could say:

“You built that by yourself?”

“That book looks really interesting.”

“You turned Teddy into a monster.”

“I noticed that you made three pictures.”

Thanks for reading!

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

Dr. Charles Fay

Tips for Taking Better Care of Yourself in the Mornings

Now that most kids have been back in school for at least a week or two, many parents are probably starting to see old habits return. The morning struggle with getting young kids ready for school and out the door might be one of those familiar routines that has returned for you. Here is what one parent shared with us regarding this continual struggle:

“Every morning, I have to compare them to stationary objects to see if they are really moving. And I feel like I’m the only one in the house concerned whatsoever with getting ready and getting everyone on the school bus. They don’t have a care in the world, lying around, falling asleep in their cereal bowls, meandering aimlessly around the house, remaining clueless about all the stuff they need to get together for school. It makes me want to scream!”

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. Listed below are some tips for taking better care of yourself in the mornings:

Schedule some time to plan and practice when you aren’t in a hurry

This means taking the time to show your kids how to use an alarm clock and how to collect what they need the night before. You can also give them ideas for making their own breakfasts as well as tips on creating lists as prompts or reminders.

Each morning, take yourself out of the loop as much as possible

The more that you are the one working to ensure that they get ready, the less likely they will learn to get ready on by themselves.

Place almost all your emphasis on getting yourself ready

As we all know, modeling is a great teacher. You shouldn’t feel guilty placing about 98% of your energy on meeting your needs. Besides, you’ve already taught them how to meet theirs—now show them how your meet yours.

Pray for opportunities

If you approach mornings this way, your kids will have special learning opportunities: (1) they will learn that the sky will not fall if they end up going to school looking mismatched and dishevelled, and (2) they will learn to take responsibility by making affordable mistakes, such as forgetting their homework.

Create a covert backup plan

In some cases, parents find it wise to have someone secretly on call. If the kids miss the bus, this backup adult can arrive and charge the kids for taxi service to the school.

By using these tips with good training and consistency on our parts, kids can learn to take primary responsibility for getting themselves up and ready to go each and every day. Kids who learn these skills will find it far more natural to assume personal responsibility in other areas of their lives.

Our Love and Logic Solutions for Early Childhood webinar has more tips on teaching young kids how to take more responsibility and make good decisions for themselves.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Helping Kids Develop a Healthy Sense of Self

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 social 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 identity battles with social-media identity for emotional territory, kids can suffer painful conflict and develop understandable escape behaviors.

Many kids will dive deep into the murky waters of internet and video game overuse because they feel calmer, stronger, and more accepted in cyberspace than in their true relational world. The seeds of addiction are sown. Full-blown dependency looms just around the corner.

Taking away their devices addresses just the tip of the iceberg. Although it’s sometimes necessary to do this, it only scratches the surface. Helping them develop a healthy self-concept addresses the larger issue below the waterline.

Denial in epic proportions

One might argue that most parents in America are in denial over the impact of technology overuse and its effects 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 succeed in the real world—so does clinging to the drill sergeant model. Both styles are the enemy of healthy identity development and can create 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 with the real world. 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 increase the odds of healthy identity development. We cannot ensure it. Sometimes highly ineffective parents end up with strong kids—and highly competent parents can end up with kids who have big problems. What Love and Logic does guarantee is that we can face life knowing we’ve done our best.

Thanks for reading!

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

Dr. Charles Fay

 

Parenting, Phones, and Technology

Often, I feel like I am from the Middle Ages with respect to phones—the time when people used telephones that were hard-wired into the wall, and web addresses were inhabited by arachnids!

Although the basics of parenting remain the same, rapidly evolving technology involving cell phones and the Internet have left many parents wondering what limits are appropriate, how to hold their children accountable for misuse of technology, and how to help kids learn the decision-making skills required to make healthy technology choices when they leave home.

There is good news! Even though these modern issues can be very challenging, we can achieve positive outcomes by applying some age-old parenting truths:

  • Kids need limits.

  • Limits are best set through actions instead of hollow threats.

  • When kids make poor decisions, they need to experience natural or logical consequences.

  • Consequences are always more effective when loving empathy is provided first.

  • Our kids will learn how to live their lives by watching us.

Listed below are a few examples of essential limits related to phones and technology:

  • You may have your tablet only if there is no arguing when I ask you to shut it off.

  • Feel free to have a cell phone when you can pay for the entire cost.

  • We allow kids to have their internet-connectable devices only if they check them in with us each night. We’ll return them in the morning only if there are no problems.

  • I’ve met plenty of good people who’ve ended up doing bad things on the Internet. That’s why your mom has all my passwords and is free to see my history. You may have this device only if you do the same. Everyone needs someone to hold them accountable.

  • I'm shutting my phone off so that I can give you 100% of my attention. Thanks for doing the same.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

Simple Truths Teach Self-Control

Good things come to those who wait. Although it is an old idea, it’s a good one. So good, in fact, that kids who learn it become far more successful than ones who don’t. It’s a fact borne out by the famous “marshmallow test,” where children who were willing to wait so that they could earn more of the treats showed superior long-term adjustment in contrast to those who settled for the immediate gratification of just one.

Like all social-emotional skills, self-control is primarily taught by the three Es of Love and Logic:

  1. Example: We show kids what it looks like.

  2. Experience: We allow them to act hastily over small matters so they can truly experience the negative results.

  3. Empathy: We reallow their hearts and minds to focus on the sad effects of their hasty choices rather than our anger or frustration.

I recently witnessed a powerful social-emotional leaning opportunity at an ice cream shop in rural South Dakota. Two young boys were enjoying 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. Their ice cream was 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?

Also, on Tuesday, August 24, we held our FREE special event, The Single Greatest Gift Parents Can Give: A Love and Logic Back to School Event. If you missed this informative event, you can watch the replay here.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

When Toddlers Hit

Before I became a parent, I believed that my children would always solve their problems with words rather than fists—then I became a parent. And my kids hit me! And they hit each other!
 
Take heart. Practically all young children experiment with being aggressive, even when they are being raised in loving, nonviolent homes. Our job as parents is to help them learn more peaceful ways of managing conflict. Listed below are a few tips:
 

  • Apply the “Uh Oh Song”
    When your toddler hits, sing “Uh Oh,” and carry them to their room, a safe highchair, a playpen, or stroller. If you are unfamiliar with this technique, you can learn about it our book, Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood.
  • Pretend to be calm
    The “Uh Oh Song” provides a practical strategy for replacing anger, lectures, threats, or spanking. Remember: The calmer you can look, the less likely your child will get hooked on seeing your face turn red.
  • Teach kids how to solve their own problems
    When your child is calm, role-play more appropriate strategies for dealing with frustration, anger, or conflict. Give them some possible options: “Some kids decide to say, ‘I’m mad!’ rather than hitting. Some kids decide to color with crayons when they get mad. Some kids decide to go in their room and yell at the mirror.”
     
    This type of teaching doesn’t work quickly, but as they grow older, they will begin to learn that doing such things can help them stay out of trouble.

 

  • Do your best to keep them fed and rested
    Hungry toddlers misbehave. So do tired ones. Too frequently, small children suffer because their parents, or daycare providers, expect them to cope with unrealistically busy schedules.
  • Let them see you getting upset AND see you handling it well
    There is nothing more powerful than backing our words with actions. What makes this attainable is remembering to take good care of ourselves so that we’re not so likely to “lose it” in front of the kids.

 
For more tips on dealing with the unexpected from your kids, listen to our MP3 audio, Love and Logic Magic When Little Ones Leave You Speechless.
 
Don’t miss our special FREE LIVE WebinarThe Single Greatest Gift Parents Can Give: A Love and Logic Back to School Event, which will take place tomorrow, August 24 at 4:00 pm Pacific.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

When Kids Get Defiant

There can be many challenges with the transition this year and, although last week’s newsletter offered tips to ease kids into the new school year, we know we can still expect some defiance from our kids.
 
What can you do when you encounter defiance? For example, have you ever heard this from your child at home or a student in your class?
 
“I’m not doing that! You can’t make me!”
 
Success in this situation rests entirely on resisting the urge to rely on power and coercion to force kids to do what we want. Listed below are some tips that can help you handle defiance:

  • Sidestep the power-struggle by delaying the consequence. It’s okay to let children think they’ve gotten away with something in the short-term—especially if handling it later will buy you time so that you can do a more effective job.
  •  Calmly say, “No problem. I love you (or respect you) too much to argue with you about this. I’ll take care of it.”
  • Put together a workable plan. Get some help from other adults if you need their ideas or support.
  • Allow empathy and logical consequences to do the teaching.
  • Establish the same expectations for behavior at home as they will face at school.
  • Maintain routines, such as for family mealtimes and chores.

 
One mother described to us how she handled her teenager’s refusal to do chores:

“My teenager refused to do the simple household chores I had asked her to do. Instead of arguing with her, I simply told her that I loved her too much to argue and that I would take care of them. I hired a professional housekeeping service to do it for her. Then I taped the bill to her bedroom door. She refused to pay the bill, so I had another chance to say, ‘I love you too much to argue with you about this. I’ll take care of it.’ Later that week when she wanted to go shopping for the new outfit that she had requested a while ago, I calmly said to her, ‘This is so sad. I had to use that money to pay the housekeeping service.’”
 
This mother understood that sometimes we must allow kids to be upset in the short-term so that they can learn to lead happy and responsible lives in the long-term.

Make School More Exciting for Your Kids

The new school year is just on the horizon. Many school-age children will soon return to classrooms for the first time since the pandemic forced them into online learning, many months ago. Making the transition back to school this year might be more challenging for everyone and anything we can do to create a sense of excitement about school can help our kids ease back into the classroom setting.
 
I can still remember how I felt as a child upon seeing the very first “back-to-school” advertisement on TV. Although a bit sad about the fact that the summer vacation was almost over, I always felt a strange sort of relief knowing that before long I’d be doing something more exciting.
 
Summer was fun at first, then it got very boring. Only as an adult did I learn that my parents planned it that way. Their idea was to create a two-part summer. Part one was filled with fun—activities and events that were fun and that helped us recharge our batteries after a long, hard school year. Part two was filled with a good amount of boredom and plenty of chores—dull duties that helped us really look forward to being able to escape to school in the fall.
 
On the first day of school, will your kids go into shock when they are expected to sit at their desks, listen to their teachers, and complete assignments? The shock might be more pronounced this year after their long absence from classrooms during the last school year. Perhaps it would be better if they experience a sense of relief, thinking, “Wow! This sure is easier and more fun than being at home!”
 
As the school year looms large, might it be wise to begin making your home more boring and more chore-laden? Wise teachers know that kids who are used to doing plenty of chores at home are far more likely to excel at doing plenty of work at school.
 
For more insights into how you can help your children easily make the transition back to school this year and avoid going into shock when they are back in a classroom, join us for our special FREE LIVE WebinarThe Single Greatest Gift Parents Can Give: A Love and Logic Back to School Event, which will take place on August 24 at 4:00 p.m. PDT. You will learn how to prepare your children for academic success by boosting their self-esteem and giving them the appropriate levels of limits, structure, and stimulation as summer comes to an end.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Good Sportsmanship: The Olympic Ideal

The 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo start this Friday! The Olympic Games are the ultimate event for the world’s best amateur athletes and they also represent the epitome of sportsmanship, as expressed in the Olympic Creed:


“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” 

Pierre de Coubertin
 
In the Olympics, as well as in professional sports, there are many great athletes with exemplary character! Unfortunately, we have also seen many whose egos are more inflated and gas-filled than the Hindenburg zeppelin. Like that tragedy, they quickly rise to fame yet eventually crash and burn, taking many with them.
 
The seeds of such disaster often start in T-Ball, Pee Wee Football, gymnastics, and other activities with some parents placing sports performance and winning over good behavior and character. In their excitement about their child’s athletic abilities, they blindly give their kids a “get out of jail free” card. As the snowball rolls downhill toward college and professional sports, far too many young people become narcissistic and destined for a fall.
 
Let me be clear—I’m not pointing the finger at youth sports, the many great youth coaches, or the multitude of caring and conscientious parents. Instead, I’m suggesting that each of us must be aware that in our sports-crazed culture, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s most important.
 
Involvement in sports can give our children amazing opportunities to develop character and humility when we remember just a few things:

        • It’s okay to take your child out of a game if he or she is being a poor sport or acting disrespectfully. Of course, it’s smart to coordinate this with the coach ahead of time.
        • It’s okay not to take your child to a game if he or she is treating you like a doormat and acting arrogant at home. Again, make sure this isn’t a surprise to the coach.
        • Remember that it is important for your kids to have an equal balance of success and failure. Because their futures will include both success and disappointment, they must learn how to cope with disappointment without giving up.
        • Focus on keeping sports positive and fun. 

What sort of memories do we want our kids to have? Some of my most treasured memories are ones involving Mom and Dad at my Little League games—not whether my team won the games or how well I played. It was more important that I did my best, regardless of the outcome.

Dr. Charles Fay

A Parent Frightened by Her Own Anger

The past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for many parents. At times we become so overwhelmed that we can even lose our temper with our kids, like a mom recently told me. 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 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.’

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.  


Have you ever found yourself in this spot? I have. In fact, I have found there is nothing 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, here are 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?

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 come across with empathy more frequently than 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.

  •  I love you and I’m willing to do ______ when I see that you are acting sweet. 

It’s okay to take care of ourselves by setting limits.
 
For several 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 deception, many well-meaning parents become overwhelmed by trying to raise their kids on an emotional gas tank that is empty. It really is okay to say to our kids:

 
Dr. Charles Fay
 

Grocery 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—if they aren’t watching a video on a phone or a tablet!
 
Many parents of young children allow their kids to focus on a phone or other electronic device, which is understandable because it makes shopping easier in the short term. Nevertheless, Love and Logic focuses on the effects of what parents do when kids are young and how they can greatly benefit their kids’ future lives.
 
We are big on paying now rather than paying much bigger later on. So, 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? Here are some tips that can help make the shopping experience more enjoyable for you and more of a learning experience for your kids.

  • Before you go, your 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, then they will 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

Emotional Hairballs and Arrows

Are you seeing more disrespectful behavior from your kids? For example, do your kids habitually sneer, roll their eyes, or make sounds resembling a cat trying to cough up a hairball? Do your kids send emotional arrows your way just about every time you say or do something they dislike?
 
The danger in allowing this behavior to continue is that actions can shape beliefs and attitudes. Yep! If anyone acts annoyed or offended often enough, seeds of discontent and feelings of victimhood will sprout. Unchecked, these can grow into pervasive feelings of being tread upon.
 
The Love and Logic approach can help parents in two ways. First, it can help parents remain calm and avoid verbal battles with our kids. Second, by using the principles of Love and Logic, parents can help their kids learn to behave respectfully and responsibly toward others. Here are some insights into how Love and Logic works.
 
Let their arrows miss the target.
 
Kids launch emotional missiles to strike at our hearts so that they can get a reaction from us—and they often succeed! Our greatest source of power against such attacks is showing that they don’t get the desired result of anger, lectures, threats, or frustration.
 
Expect mature expression of feelings.
 
Whenever your kids are treating you disrespectfully, do your best to remain calm. Try to reply calmly with something like, “I will know that you are really maturing when you can share your feelings without giving dirty looks or huffing. If you feel something I do is unfair, we can have a mature discussion when both of us are calm.”
 
Reinforce mature expression by listening with respect.
 
A great irony: When our kids can talk to us about how they feel, they are less likely to act out their feelings in nasty, disrespectful, or irresponsible ways. Listening sends the message that we care about their opinions. It is also a means of reinforcing healthy, mature expression of opinions and emotions. It’s not about allowing them to run the home—it’s about ending infantile drama in the home.
 
Provide empathy and consequences if the problem continues.
 
When this behavior has become seriously habitual, wise parents consistently apply a rather generic consequence: “I allow (or do) ________________ as long as my energy is not being drained by dirty looks.” Remember, it is very important always to provide empathy first, then consequences.
 
The key to rebuilding respect from our kids involves proving to them that we can handle them without getting frustrated or angry. In my audio, Oh Great! What Do I Do Now?, I provide plenty of practical tips for making this happen.

Dr. Charles Fay

The Question of Tangible Rewards

Among educators and parenting experts, few battles have been more intense over the years than the one waged over the value and use of rewards. In my undergraduate and graduate psychology courses, I found my head spinning as I read convincing arguments and research from experts on both sides of the debate. Depending on the semester, the professor I had at the time, the relative positions of Mars and Jupiter, and the barometric pressure, I found myself wavering between two extremist groups.
 
As planetary alignments changed, I’d find myself attracted to the “sticker commando” camp. These folks cited convincing studies suggesting that we should always provide “positive reinforcement contingent upon positive behavior.” The extremists among them spent most of their free time and money at the teacher’s supply-store buying stickers. If one of their students breathed or had a pulse, a sticker was given.
 
Listed below are some of my thoughts on the use of rewards with kids:

  • The extremes on this issue ignore the complexity of human behavior.
  • There are some real risks associated with the use of rewards.
  • When certain guidelines are followed, rewards can be effective.
  • Reinforcement theory is “built into” most of our Love and Logic techniques.
  • With some low-functioning kids, tangible rewards are helpful. 
  • Most behavior is driven by unmet, basic emotional or physical needs. While rewards and consequences may modify the observable behavior in the moment, the underlying problem may persist. As a result, behavior change is often either temporary or the child will act out in other ways to get his/her needs met. I’ve been truly saddened by the number of educators and parents I’ve seen who could no longer enjoy their kids because they are so busy trying to keep track of points, checkmarks, tokens, stickers, or some other type of reward. Will kids sense and react to this stress in adults and act even worse? You bet!
     
    Rewards can be effective if we follow a few simple guidelines:
  • Unconditional love, acceptance, and empathy
  • Physical and emotional safety
  • Friendship and a sense of group “belonging”
  • Healthy feeling of control
  • Limits from loving adults
  • Feelings of self-competence

 
With Love and Logic, you can help your child reap the true “rewards” of respect, responsibility, resilience, self-worth, and confidence. 
 

Dr. Charles Fay

Four Lessons Learned from a Wonderful Father

Wisdom often burrows itself deepest into our hearts during tough times. It’s through such fire that true character is developed. It’s also during such spots that our kids are probably watching us the closest and wondering, “How’s Dad going to react to this one?”
 
During my lifetime, I’ve had the opportunity to hear many stories of wonderful fatherhood, few of which had to do with dads stringing together lots of wise words. Rather, the majority involved modeling great character during times of adversity. Here are four important messages kids can learn from watching their fathers.
 
My love for you is steadfast.
 
My father was the proud owner of a brand new car. This being the one and only vehicle he owned that had less than 100,000 miles on it and had paint that shined. He always tucked it safely in the garage upon return from work each evening.
 
One day as I returned home after school, my bike accelerated into the garage as if it had a mind of its own, smashing rather violently into a shelving unit. The shelves teetered, tottered, and eventually spilled their assortment of heavy hand-tools onto the hood of that shiny new Chrysler. I was okay. The car was not.
 
Even though I spent many hours making restitution for this blunder, I never found myself wondering how I stood in my father’s eyes and heart. This has held constant over my lifetime, even when my mistakes were far more serious than a scratched automobile.
 
I love you enough to keep my promises.
 
Are limits promises? When kept, do they show that we love our kids enough to keep them safe and show them how to live peaceful and productive lives? “My dad’s word was always gold,” a young dad shared during one of our trainings. “He didn’t have many rules for us, but the ones he provided were always backed with action.”
 
Mastering my anger, I’ll show you how to be a strong person.
 
I struggle with this one the most. Even knowing Love and Logic inside out, I sometimes find myself too quickly riled by small things done by my kids, other family members, fellow drivers, and electronic devices. Perhaps the first step in mastering any problem is to admit that you have a problem. It’s an old idea, but it’s a good one.
 
A mentor of mine, gray-headed and wise, shared a nugget of wisdom with me, “Be a teapot not a pressure cooker.” Teapots admit their feelings and vent some steam. Pressure cookers look relatively calm on the outside, until they suddenly explode.
 
There are times when it’s truly healthy to say to a child, “I’m really angry about this. I’m going to have to do something about it. We’ll talk later. I make better decisions when I’m calm.”
 
Searching for humility.
 
When we place ourselves too high, we have a long way to fall. Possibly the greatest challenge facing our society are the messages sent to youth about self versus others. In various ways, too many young people are being convinced that showing off is more important than showing consideration and respect.
 
Humility is tricky. When we think we have it, we are probably falling into the ironic trap of feeling a bit superior about being humble. It can be very elusive and those with the greatest humility never consider themselves to have found humility. They just keep searching, and thus showing their children what it truly looks like.
 
Every Father’s Day, we honor our dads. We celebrate those brave men who choose each and every day to give these gifts to their children, even though they may not have received them from their own dads. We also remember that none of us are perfect and that focusing too much on our shortcomings usually causes us to repeat them. To all the dads who are oftentimes too hard on themselves, remember to show yourself the same kindness and forgiveness that a loving father shows his children.

Dr. Charles Fay

Honesty Deficit Disorder

Last week a parent called us for advice about how to deal with her daughter who tells lies and then denies that she is lying. As with many parents, this can cause enormous concern and frustration, as well as bewilderment about how to respond.
 
What can 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 are immune from this disorder? The good news is that conscientious parents can turn the tide on truth-bending behavior by applying the Three Es 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 over 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 because of their fibbing. Does lying drain your parental energy? In our audio, Love and Logic Magic: When Kids Drain Your Energy, we teach that children should be responsible for replacing drained energy by completing extra chores, allowing their parents to rest instead of driving them places they want to go, or whatever else might help us regain our 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.
 
Be sure to provide examples of how you choose to tell the truth and next time you encounter symptoms of Honesty Deficit Disorder in your kids, provide a healthy dose of empathy and then let the consequences do the teaching.

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 (such as eye-rolling, arguing, defiance, lying, etc.) is often a way to test our limits. This 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 when they lack a role model for learning 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. The imperative, “Treat me with respect!” is unenforceable. In contrast:
 
“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. Although our children certainly won’t thank us in the short term, we can be assured that doing so will provide the type of limits and security they will need later in life.
 
A Love and Logic mom described to us 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 from her son. “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!” Although it was difficult in the short term, the long-term benefits of her holding firm will go a long way to teaching her son the importance of treating others with respect.
 
Especially during these difficult times, kids and parents need a healthy family environment and teaching respect is critical for successfully creating that environment. 

Dr. Charles Fay

Respect Is Built on Relationships and Empathy

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 respect, and then demand respect, we are likely to behave in ways that trigger this alarm. Demanding respect due to our perceived entitlement 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.
 
Everything Rests on Relationships
 
What makes Love and Logic work? Some believe it’s our strong emphasis on setting limits. They think that folks who are struggling with their kids just aren’t setting enough limits. Others believe that the power of Love and Logic has more to do with providing consequences for misbehaviour. They think that those who are unsuccessful with kids just need to do a better job of providing bigger and more powerful consequences.
 
Both viewpoints are right—and wrong. Limits are critical, but we’ll never make them stick if we don’t have good relationships with our kids. Holding youngsters accountable for their misbehaviour is also essential, but have you noticed that kids just don’t seem to care that much about consequences when they come from someone they don’t love and respect?
 
Everything rests on relationships. Limits gain their power from them, and so do consequences. So, if we want Love and Logic to have its full power, we’re wise to do plenty of the following;

  • Focus mostly on our children’s strengths rather than on their weaknesses.
  • Smile at them as often as possible.
  • Write them little notes that tell them how much we adore them.
  • Greet them each day with a hug or a high five.
  • Make sure that they overhear us talking about how much we love them.
  • Deliver our Love and Logic with great empathy and sincerity. 

The Key to Making It All Work
 
Empathy really is the key to making it all work! And it seems so simple at first glance. All I need to do is lock in a strong dose of sadness or empathy before delivering consequences. “What a bummer…you guys have been fighting over the remote control. I bet if you did some chores together, that would help you learn to cooperate.” That seems easy…or is it?
 
All is good and fine until the rubber hits the pavement in our homes, and then we encounter situations when we don’t feel like using empathy! One strategy for helping us when this happens is to say:
 
I’m going to have to do something about this. But not now, later.
I make better decisions when I’m calm. We’ll talk then.
 
If you’re like me, you find yourself gradually getting out of the Love and Logic habit. My biggest challenge is to remember the empathy. It’s so easy to begin slipping. If I’m not careful, I start applying Lectures and Logic, instead of Love and Logic.

Dr. Charles Fay

Reducing Power Struggles with Questions

Most families at some point experience power struggles between parents and kids. These struggles can create tension and stress for everyone in the family, and they do not help us nurture a respectful atmosphere within the family. One technique for defusing power struggles, as well as alleviating stress, is the simple act of asking questions.
 
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? When we ask questions, we communicate a very powerful and loving message:
 
I know that you can think! I believe in you!
 
For more ways to help you reduce power struggles, as well as many insights on how to create a healthy family during difficult times, be sure to register for our FREE special event on May 25, 2021, 7 Ways To Create A Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Family.

 

Dr. Charles Fay

A Heartfelt Thanks to Mothers Everywhere

During the past year, mothers everywhere have been challenged by the pandemic and all the complications, upheavals, and worries that have arisen because of the effects it has had on their kids. More than ever, moms must feel like the weight of the world rests on their shoulders. Moms, do you ever feel like it’s your job, and your job alone, to make sure that your kids always do the right thing, turn out well, and are kept safe? Do you ever worry that the entire neighborhood is aware and judging you when your kids sneak out of the house with mismatched socks, messy hair, and less-than-polite attitudes?
 
Oftentimes, the most loving and effective mothers
take the most heat from others and themselves.
 
Wonderful moms understand that kids need to make plenty of small, affordable mistakes. They know that kids must occasionally experience struggles and disappointments. They also know that constant rescuing or micromanaging creates kids who need constant rescuing and micromanaging.
 
Because of this, the best moms often feel a bit lonely and unsure of themselves. They feel lonely because our society too frequently rewards what looks good rather than what is truly good. They feel lonely because they rarely overhear other mothers bragging about allowing their kids to learn by forgetting a lunch, misplacing an occasional homework paper, or having to pay for a lost coat.
 
The best moms often feel a bit lonely and
unsure of themselves.
 
It’s easy to feel guilty or insecure when you see so many “super-hovering mommies” acting like pack mules, carrying all their children’s sporting equipment, back packs, and responsibilities. It’s easy to lose perspective when your minivan is the only one without an “Honor Student” bumper sticker. It’s tempting to waver when the parents next door are working harder completing their child’s homework than their child is.
 
Moms, I thank you for all that you do! Here are some tips that I hope you will take to heart:
 

  • Parents who try to be perfect often raise kids who struggle with painful levels of perfectionism. Give your kids a gift by making mistakes and being gentle with yourself over them.
  • Take care of yourself by letting your kids do most of the housework. This builds their self-esteem and shows that you are someone to be honored rather than taken for granted.
  • Become very hard of hearing when your kids get demanding or fail to preface their request with a pleasant “please.”
  • Ignore the perfect moms on social media.

Everyone else (including me) can support moms by:
 

  • Letting the kids know how fortunate they are to have such a wonderful mom.
  • Modelling an attitude of service by helping Mom in front of the kids.
  • Cleaning up after yourself.
  • Providing this support throughout the year—not just on Mother’s Day. 

I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all mothers everywhere for everything they do. I hope to encourage all the wonderful mothers who let things fall apart from time to time and who understand the wisdom of providing a rather imperfect world for their kids. 
 

Dr. Charles Fay

A Very Special Thank You for Teachers This Year

Teachers are now included by the CDC as Frontline Essential Workers. This is not a surprise for us as parents because we have always considered teachers as essential and extremely important for the educational development of our children. This year we want to express a very special thanks to teachers for their dedication to teaching our kids while facing the challenges of the pandemic.
 
On a personal note, I would like to apologize to the many teachers of my youth who put their heart and soul into trying to maintain order with me sitting in their classrooms. I wasn’t a downright malevolent child. I simply liked to keep things entertaining by continuously testing the sense of humor of my instructors. Despite my best efforts to the contrary, my teachers managed to see the good in me even when I couldn’t see it in myself. Great teachers are like that.
 
One way we can send a big thanks to educators is by helping our kids view them with great respect. A powerful strategy for achieving this goal involves allowing our kids to overhear us talking positively about their teachers. You’ve probably noticed your children’s eyes glazing over as you’ve tried to lecture them about some essential truth. In contrast, you’ve seen how closely they listen when they see that you’re trying to have a private conversation! Experiment with this:
 
At least twice a week intentionally let your children overhear you saying something positive about their teachers.
Do this for the rest of the school year.
 
The Best Gift for Teachers
All dedicated educators want to be appreciated for their hard work, and long hours. 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. However, this past year they have also been faced with the challenge of teaching during the pandemic, and we are especially grateful and thankful for their dedication during this time.
 
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. In addition to letting our kids hearing our positive comments about their teachers, here is list of a few additional things you can do to help teachers help your kids succeed:

  • 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 the things you’ve learned during the day.

Want Your Child’s Teacher to Listen to You?
Years ago, we learned of two parents who called a teacher about something that happened in the teacher’s classroom. Here are the two ways that these parents started the conversation:
 
One of the mothers started by saying, “You need to handle the class in a better way!”
 
The other mother started by saying, “I’d like to share what I have heard about a problem in the class and get your thoughts on it.”
 
The opening statement of the first mother immediately put the teacher on the defensive and the conversation did not go well. The second mother did not create a hostile atmosphere and the conversation went well because the teacher did not feel like she was being attacked. Showing respect and courtesy to our teachers when we need to speak with them is another excellent way of showing how much we appreciate them and that we are truly thankful for what they do for our kids.
 
We encourage you to do all you can to show your appreciation and gratitude for our teachers this year—they deserve it more than ever! 

Dr. Charles Fay

To Protect or Not To Protect: That is the Question

Some people say, “Kids these days are wimps!” We hear it again and again in the news: “Too much coddling, too much hovering, and too much over-protecting have created a generation of young adults who aren’t mentally strong and who remain dependent upon their parents.”
 
Before elaborating on some solutions to the helicopter-parent crisis, I’d like to applaud the many parents who are still raising kids with common sense, self-control, and grit. Kudos also to the wonderfully responsible young adults I meet every day. They are still out there!
 
As helicoptering has reached a zenith, so too have vague notions about what we ought to do instead. Some authors suggest giving children free rein to run with scissors, roam dark streets at night, and wire 220-volt appliances unsupervised. A totally hands-off approach is their motto. Although we encourage parents to allow their kids to take risks, this must be done responsibly, and we never advocate allowing a child to be endangered in any way.
 
Going to either of these extremes is not healthy. Instead, wise parents consider each specific situation and ask themselves the following questions:
 
What are the real risks?
 
Too frequently, we forget that we cannot eliminate all risk from our lives or our children’s lives. We can only ask ourselves, “Is this really a life-and-death issue?” If it is truly a life-and-death situation, parents must intervene.
 
Am I removing the joy by trying to remove the risk?
 
A life lived with no risk is a life not lived.
 
Has my child been allowed to blow it when the “price tags” were small?
 
If a child has a history of being over-protected, a parent may want to start by giving more freedom over smaller issues, instead of suddenly giving great freedom over much larger ones.
 
Have I provided the training required for my child to handle this risk safely?
 
For example, if I allow my children to use the lawnmower, have I shown them how to do so safely? Have we practiced using the mower together? Offering training helps our children experience the joy of conquering risks independently.
 
What is my characteristic style of parenting?
 
Great parents do their best to allow their children the freedom to make mistakes, experience the consequences, and solve the problems they encounter. Great parents also protect and rescue whenever it is necessary. How might you answer the following?
 
Do I protect or rescue most of the time,
or do I tend to err on the side of allowing
my kids to experience life and learn from it?
 
Allow your kids to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and benefit from their successes. This will help them grow up to be mentally strong adults who can fend for themselves. 
 

Dr. Charles Fay

Are You Remembering the Empathy?

If you’re familiar with the Love and Logic approach, then you’re familiar with the tremendous power of empathy and the critical role that it plays in successfully using Love and Logic with your kids. Empathy has become even more important over the past year as we all struggle to understand the many difficult events that have occurred in our lives.
 
As a child I witnessed empathy transform our family. I watched as my mother and father began to understand the following important principles:
 
Consequences provided with anger result in resentment.
 
Consequences proceeded by empathy build
personal responsibility.
 
My parents’ journey from anger to empathy was not without occasional potholes, wrong turns, construction zones, and fender benders. It’s been the same for me as I continue to learn how to be an effective parent, husband, business manager, and consultant.
 
The truth is that we all struggle with this skill in one way or another and we need reminders to help us on the journey from anger to empathy. Here are a few little reminders to keep ourselves headed in the right direction:

  • Remember that it’s okay to delay consequences.
     
    When you’re too angry to think straight or to be empathetic, give yourself a gift by giving yourself some time to calm down, think, and get help from others
  • Post your “empathetic statement” around the house.

    Memorize your empathetic statement by posting it all over the house on little “sticky notes.”
  • Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself by setting and enforcing solid limits.

    Many parents have problems with getting angry because they haven’t set enough good, solid limits with their children. One of my favourite limits sounds like, “I do___________ for kids when they are treating me with respect.”
  • Resist the urge to remind.

    It is very important to remember that the more warnings or reminders we give our kids, the more stressed and frustrated we will become. Take care of yourself, and your child, by replacing words with actions.

Dr. Charles Fay 

 

Teaching Your Kids How To Wait

Waiting has become a major part of our lives over the past year and all of us can hardly wait until our lives return to normal. Even in normal times, waiting is part of everyday 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, there is a danger 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.
 
In the short term, all might seem well if we respond quickly to their impatience. However, 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 waiting. These parents will 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 or while waiting in a line at the store, they allow their kids to hear their thoughts. Thinking out loud, they might say:

  • “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 will demonstrate that good things come to those who wait when their young ones do a good job of waiting. 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? Absolutely! It is a skill that will benefit them in the long run when they eventually face the challenges of adulthood.
 

Dr. Charles Fay 

What Can We Do When Our Kids Whine?

Everyone is stressed these days, especially parents. Parenting during these difficult times can be so overwhelming that simple, daily activities feel like insurmountable challenges. When everyone is stressed and kids start whining, parents can feel their energy draining away.
 
Do you know any kids who create great discomfort for everyone around them just by using a certain tone of voice? Some kids have mastered a whiny tone that can act like a cheese grater on raw nerves. Whining can send us over the edge and cause what we call “skill slippage.”;
 
What can we do when our kids whine? First, it helps to remember that whining is just a way kids try to get what they want. And in the real world, it doesn’t seem to be a very good way. So, we don’t want to teach kids that whining “works” and we certainly don’t want to model being whiny ourselves.
 
Some Love and Logic parents have had great success with Love and Logic’s Energy Drain Technique. The next time you find yourself stumped by whining, or any other behavior that drains your energy, use the Energy Drain Technique! Here are the steps:
 
Step #1:
Say with empathy, “When you ____________, it really drains my energy. We’ll talk about this later.”
 
Step #2:
Give yourself some time to calm down and think.
 
Step #3:
Ask your child how they plan to replace the energy they drained.
Kids can replace energy by doing extra chores, staying home while you rest, hiring themselves a babysitter, cooking dinner, etc.
 
Step #4:
Give them a deadline for “energy replacement,” and enforce it if they forget or refuse.
Some parents find it necessary to take away a toy or do an “automatic allowance withdrawal” if their energy isn’t replaced by the deadline.
 
Maxine used the Energy Drain technique with her six-year-old daughter (a champion whiner) for a few weeks and the whining all but disappeared. Whenever little Misty started whining, Maxine would inhale slowly and say, “Oh, it just drains my energy to hear that.” Sometimes, she would disengage from her daughter, if possible. Then she would give her daughter a couple options for putting the energy back: “Some kids decide to do the dusting while Mom takes a rest. Other kids decide to put their mom’s energy back by straightening the bookshelf. You can decide.”
 
Maxine secretly hoped Misty would NOT put her energy back by doing a chore so that when Misty needed some of Mom’s energy to take her to a friend’s house, Mom could say, “Oh, I’m sad to say I used up all of my driving energy listening to all that whining. Maybe next time I’ll have the energy to take you.”
 
Be careful, some parents start looking forward to their kids’ whining so they can get some chores done or so their kids can miss out on some things and really learn that whining doesn’t pay.


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

Dr. Charles Fay

Helping Our Kids Cope with Anxiety

Kids of all ages face many situations during these times that can create and feed anxiety. Like nearly all the challenges faced by parents, anxiety in children has many possible causes and solutions. Fortunately, Love and Logic offers a variety of “experiments” to determine what might work best with each unique child. Here are some tips that can help alleviate anxiety with your kids:
 
Establish or strengthen family routines.
With anxious, fearful kids, experiment with having set times for meals, bath times, reading, chores, bedtimes, etc.
 
Provide firmer limits.
There are few things more reassuring to a child than knowing that they have parents who are strong enough to beat-up the “Boogie Man” if he broke into the house at night. All children wonder if they have parents who are strong enough to keep them safe. One of the ways they find out is to test limits and see if their parents appear weak or very strong.
 
Give less attention to anxious behavior.
Experiment with using fewer words when your child is upset. Simply hug them and say, “I know you can handle this.”
 
Model calmness and optimism.
Our children will rarely be any calmer and more confident than we are.
 
Avoid reinforcing avoidance behavior.
Too frequently we traumatize children more by repeatedly allowing them to avoid healthy activities that can build their sense of security and self-esteem.
 
Allow your child to be a child.
Every year, children are being pushed harder to become stars in academics, athletics, music, etc. Excessive pressure to excel isn’t good for kids.
 
Consider professional help.
Because anxiety can have so many different causes, it’s always wise to get a professional medical opinion.
 
In addition to typical sources of anxiety, younger kids might also experience difficulty with separation anxiety. I am often asked, “How do I help my child feel less anxious about going to daycare, preschool or the babysitter?” Some separation anxiety is normal and healthy. If you have young kids, the odds are high that you’ve pondered this question and wondered what to do. Listed below are some quick tips for dealing with separation anxiety:
 

  • Remember that kids take their emotional cues from the adults around them.
    The calmer and more business-like we act, the easier it’ll be for our kids.
  • Avoid doing too much reassuring.
    Strangely, the more we talk with our little ones about how much fun they are going to have, the more anxiety they seem to have. It’s as if they reason, “If my parents have to tell me this is going to be okay, maybe it won’t.”
  • Make the transition short and sweet.
    The quicker you move, the faster your child will calm down once you leave.
  • Don’t look back.
    Although it’s hard to resist the urge to go back and comfort your child, he or she will calm down far quicker if you keep going and don’t look back. 

Generally, the tots who feel the most secure when they are with their parents are the ones who feel the most secure when they are away from their parents. A large part of providing this security involves combining big doses of love with good, solid limits.
 
In my webinar, Love and Logic Solutions for Early Childhood, I provide a variety of strategies that send children the message that they are loved and secure. When kids feel this way, they are more capable of facing life without fear.

Thanks for reading! If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend. Our goal is to help as many families as possible.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Survival Skills for the Real World

Are kids facing more life-and-death decisions than ever? Are they being challenged at earlier ages with scarier choices about drugs, alcohol, sex, and violence? Clearly, most children are growing up in a more challenging world than we ever imagined. The consequences of mistakes are more serious than ever. Of great concern is the fact that many children are not being equipped with the survival skills necessary for making wise decisions about these pressures.
 
More and more children seem to believe that bad things can’t really happen until after their second or third poor decision. What do I mean? Perhaps an example will best illustrate this point.
 
Some time ago, I took my son to the movies. As we sat through the multitude of previews and ads for giant-sized, butter-flavored popcorn, I noticed two boys sitting near the front, throwing ice. Their parents were seated about three rows behind them. Mom walked up to them and said something like, “You stop that. I mean it. That’s one.” A minute or two later, the ice once again began to sail. This time Dad approached them and said very loudly, “Mom told you to stop that. Now that’s two.” Soon, the popcorn began to fly. Dad rushed back down to them and said, “Stop that. If you keep doing that, we’re going to have to leave!” Finally, after three or four warnings, these parents put some action behind their threats and took the kids home.
 
What happens when we give children two or three warnings before we deliver a consequence? We condition them to believe that they always can make at least two poor decisions before anything unfortunate happens. Does this give kids a strong defense against peer pressure? Absolutely not! Why? Because deep down they start to develop internal dialogues that say things like, “I can throw popcorn (or take drugs, have sex, drink and drive, carry a gun, etc.) at least two times before anything bad happens.”
 
I had a friend in high school who held this view. His parents always warned him at least three times before they followed through. He lived for a short while believing that nothing bad could happen unless he’d been warned at least twice. Then he died—the first time he went to a party, got drunk, and tried to drive home in a mountain snowstorm.
 
Love and Logic parents know that kids need to understand that bad things can happen after the first poor decision, without repeated warnings. How do they teach this? They set limits once and follow through with meaningful consequences rather than more warnings.
 
What’s this look like in the movie theatre? Mom or Dad walks over and whispered, “Are you guys going to be able to behave or do we need to go?” If the boys act up again, Mom and Dad don’t lecture or warn. Instead, they say something like, “How sad. We’re going home now. And by the way, how are you guys going to pay us for the money we spent on tickets, soda, and popcorn? You can tell us later. Try not to worry about it.”

Thanks for reading! If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend. Our goal is to help as many families as possible.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Inspiring High Achievement

We can’t make young people excited about learning, but we can create homes and classrooms where they are inspired to develop this passion from the inside out. Do we desire kids who always require outside-in motivation or do we want them to have it from the inside out?
 
When we slide toward the cliff of trying to coerce kids into becoming highly motivated students, we take on the task of trying to control someone else. Because we can only control our own behavior (and that’s often quite difficult as well!), we find ourselves becoming more and more frustrated with the child and with ourselves. It doesn’t take long for all this frustration to push us toward counterproductive behaviors such as threats, lectures, punishment, begging, bribing, and taking more responsibility than the child for learning.
 
Inspiring high achievement is a puzzle of many pieces. An essential piece involves inspiring by modeling. That is, demonstrating our own excitement and commitment to four essential values for achievement:

  • Curiosity
  • Willingness to take healthy risks
  • Perseverance
  • Awareness that paying dues earlier in life leads to more contentment later

These values are most effectively transmitted when our children overhear us describing our real-life experiences. Kids are far more likely to listen when we are talking to someone else just within earshot. They are also far more likely to internalize these lessons when they see that we are positive and passionate about the experience. At least once or twice a week, let them overhear a story like the following:

I’ve always been so curious about the software that some people are using at work. It’s a bit complicated and I spent most of Monday afternoon trying to get it to work and couldn’t. It’s taken me all week to figure out how to create the spreadsheets correctly, but it seems like I’m starting to get it. I felt like giving up, but now I see how great it’s going to work. That’s exciting! I guess it’s like everything else. If it’s worth doing, and it makes life better, it’s probably going to be a bit tough in the short term.

Whether at home, in the classroom, or in an online class, successfully motivating our kids and students comes down to modeling and building positive relationships with our kids and students. This will help them take the risks required so that they can learn that perseverance and hard work will give them a great sense of accomplishment.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Helping Kids Stay Safe In A Dangerous World

Even though the pandemic has been constantly on our minds for the past year, there are still many other risks in the world that we need to keep in mind and help our kids avoid. Many of us lament the “good old days” when our kids were free to roam the neighborhood and play with their friends unsupervised by adults. In this day and age, parents are wise to keep a much closer eye on their kids.
 
How can we do this at the same time as helping our kids understand that nobody can ensure their safety if they habitually place themselves at risk? Here are some tips for striking a balance:
 
Don’t sugarcoat the world.
 
As soon as kids are able to walk, talk, and understand the basics, parents are smart to help them understand some unfortunate truths: there are some very bad people in the world who do very bad things to kids, sometimes “bad people” look like “good people” and vice versa, and there’s a difference between “good touching” and “bad touching.”
 
Children need to understand that there are also physical dangers and that kids who do unwise things, like running into the street in front of cars or placing their hands in the garbage disposal, stand a good chance of being maimed or killed.
 
Model calm confidence.
 
Obviously our goal is not to traumatize children with inappropriately vivid details. Our objective is to tell the truth in a simple and developmentally appropriate manner.
 
Our demeanor will make all of the difference. If we share the truth with anxiety, our kids will become anxious. If we do it calmly and with confidence, the odds increase that they will become calm and confident.
 
Help them see that they are ultimately responsible for their own safety.
 
Ask your child the following question:
 
“We love you and want to do our best to help you be safe.
Even though this is true, do you think we can keep you safe
if you aren’t trying hard to keep yourself safe?”
 
Make sure they are making as many small mistakes as possible.
 
The “price tag” of mistakes goes up every day. When we allow our kids to make plenty of small mistakes and experience the consequences, they are far less likely to make life-threatening mistakes later in life.
 
The goal of Love and Logic is to raise kids who know how to keep themselves safe rather than consistently relying on someone else to do so. Using these tips with kids of all ages can help you achieve this goal.
 
It is especially effective to start using these principles in early childhood. Parents of young kids can learn more in our book, Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood.

Dr. Charles Fay 

Angry People

Many people around the world have been under stress for months. Tensions can be high when we are stressed, and with high tensions comes frustration—and often anger.
 
Are there people in your life who seem to fly off the handle at the slightest perceived insult? Do you know people who throw verbal barbs and biting accusations your way whenever you try to engage in conversation with them? Odds are very high that all of us have experienced these reactions from others, especially given what we have been going through over the past year.
 
Success with occasionally angry people, as well as the chronically annoyed variety, involves remembering these three essential truths:
 
People who anger me, control me.
 
Those who talk the least have 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 enables us to maintain this power. That’s right! When we perceive the other person as hurting, rather than obnoxious, we are far less likely to be 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 attempt to 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 can 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 shared with us his surprise at how well these 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.”
 
The power of empathy when others are pushing your buttons is described in Keeping Cool When Parenting Heats Up. Although this is meant for parents working with their kids, these truths will work with anyone in our lives, not just with our children.

Thanks for reading! If this is a benefit, forward it to a friend. Our goal is to help as many families as possible.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Boredom Can Be a Good Thing!

With our kids stuck at home and many of their extracurricular activities curtailed, you might have heard the following: “This is boring!” or “I’m bored. There’s nothing to do.”
 
In days gone by, most parents had extremely simple, practical, and effective responses to such whining, such as:

  • “Here’s a rake.” 
  • “Here’s a dust cloth.”
  • “There are a lot of weeds that need to be pulled.”
  • "I guess I haven’t given you enough chores to do.”

Is it so simple? Is it really okay for us to expect our children to assume personal responsibility for coping with dull times? Absolutely!
 
Because life can be boring, especially under our current conditions, doesn’t it make sense that we allow our children to practice handling it, instead of constantly rescuing them by providing exciting and fun activities?
 
In our special offer, you can learn the basics of Love and Logic as well as find tips on how to help children turn boredom into industry. Yep! Boredom can lead to creativity and achievement when we respond to complaining about it in some of the following ways:

  • “What are you going to do about feeling so bored?”
  • “Some kids decide to go out in the yard and clean up after the dog.”
  • “Some kids decide to dust the furniture.”
  • “Some kids decide to read a book.”
  • “Sadly, some kids decide to go to their rooms and stay unhappy about it.”
  •  “I love you. Good luck.” 

Is it so simple? Is it really okay for us to expect our children to assume personal responsibility for coping with dull times? Absolutely!
 
Because life can be boring, especially under our current conditions, doesn’t it make sense that we allow our children to practice handling it, instead of constantly rescuing them by providing exciting and fun activities?
 
In our special offer, you can learn the basics of Love and Logic as well as find tips on how to help children turn boredom into industry. Yep! Boredom can lead to creativity and achievement when we respond to complaining about it in some of the following ways:
  
Do you want your children to grow up believing that it is somebody else’s job to keep them entertained and happy? Or would you rather raise youngsters who know that the best way to feel good is to do something good?
 
Give your kids the great gift of boredom and you will be blessed with kids who are far less demanding, far more content, and much better prepared for life.

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

Dr. Charles Fay

The Power of Positive Feelings

I love the smell of burnt toast! That aroma, coupled with the odor of overcooked coffee, always leaves a warm feeling in my heart.
 
I once met a woman who loved the sound of trains. In fact, she loved this sound so much that she purchased a house near the tracks so that she could experience the bone-rattling rumbles and blaring horns 24 hours a day.
 
Like this woman, I learned to love something because of unconscious associations I developed through my experience as a child. Every time I went to my loving grandparents’ home, my grandmother managed to burn the toast…and burn the coffee. The woman who loved the sounds of trains had a similar experience. Her loving grandmother lived—you guessed it—next to train tracks.
 
The power of positive feelings is immense! When our kids experience love and joy coupled with chores, they will learn to associate doing chores with positive feelings. When they experience warmth and affection coupled with learning, they will learn to associate academics with positive feelings.
 
When they feel our joy as we parent or educate them, they’re far more likely to live a life filled with excitement and motivation instead of apprehension and apathy.
 
Sometimes I get shortsighted. Sometimes I forget all of this. Sometimes I allow myself to get cross, short, or impatient, thinking that somehow my negativity will inspire my kids to learn cheerfully or complete their daily chores with a positive attitude. I forget all of this when I don’t take good care of myself.
 
Kids don’t remember all of the things we try to teach them, but they will always remember how they felt when they were around us.
 
We believe that one of the characteristics of effective parents and educators is that they engage in healthy self-care. Not only does practicing healthy self-care benefit us, it provides a model of healthy behavior for our kids.
 
Remember to take great care of yourself so that you can give them the gift of loving learning, loving responsibility, and loving themselves.

Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible.
 
Dr. Charles Fay

Are You Talking Too Much?

I used to be a parenting expert. That is until I had kids.
 
The other day I caught myself giving a lengthy speech about the importance of kids doing their chores, getting their homework done, and respecting their parents. Unfortunately, the speech was not to a group of parents or teachers. It was to my fourteen-year-old son in response to his eye-rolling and huffing about having to do his physics homework.
 
Because we are spending more time at home with our kids than ever before, we might think it to be a great opportunity to start a lecture series on chores, good behavior, respect, responsibility, homework, etc. In reality, this might be exactly what we should not do.
 
Parenting is tough because we love our children. Highly effective teachers also love their students and they struggle with the same temptations. We want the best for them. We worry that they’ll become irresponsible. We sometimes feel panicked because they don’t seem to be turning out the way we hoped. As educators, we mourn when we aren’t reaching a child in the way we hoped.
 
Lots of intense feelings can muddy our minds and leave us forgetting that we can’t talk tykes, or our teenagers, into being respectful, responsible, and self-controlled. In fact, the more extensive our vocabularies become, the less effective we become.
 
The more words we use when things are going poorly,
the less effective we become.
 
Many excellent and loving parents and educators are faltering. Not because they lack skills. No, it’s because they talk too much while they’re using their good skills.
 
Run an experiment: when things are going poorly, see what happens if you simply use fewer words. The odds are high that you’ll be glad you did.
 
For more helpful tips, be sure to watch our free virtual seminar, Parenting During Uncertain Times.
 
Dr. Charles Fay