I still vividly remember the day we brought home our first child from the hospital. You always keep babies warm right? Well it was June 26th and we put a sleeper on her and then a little jacket. I remember feeling alarmed when I looked down at her in her car seat and Nikki had little beads of sweat on her nose.
That was our first foray into the many mistakes we would make as new parents. Parenting can feel overwhelming when you think of all the different aspects of raising a child. Discipline and power struggles are always a shock when your sweet little baby grows into a demanding toddler. If you grew up with your parents shaming or yelling as a way to discipline, you may find yourself doing the same thing, despite your best intentions.
One of my favorite parenting books I discovered almost 20 years ago was Parenting With Love and Logic.
It is a bit old-school, and after reading Brene` Brown’s Daring Greatly, there is shaming language that I wouldn’t use now. It could be written better. But the premise of the book is sound. You allow your children to be responsible for their own problems. You don’t helicopter, you don’t nag or fuss. If you can let go, and let them go without lunch because they keep forgetting to take it, or let them be cold because they forgot their coat, they will start becoming responsible. From Parenting With Love and Logic:
“Oftentimes we impede our kids’ growth. We put ourselves exactly where we shouldn’t be—in the middle of their problems. Parents who take on their kids’ problems do them a great disservice. They rob their children of the chance to grow in responsibility, and they actually foster further irresponsible behavior.”
On how to talk to a child–
“You have probably noticed there is something different in how love-and-logic parents talk to kids. We’re always asking questions. We’re always offering choices. We don’t tell our kids what to do, but we put the burden of decision-making on their shoulders. As they grow older, we don’t tell them what the limits are, but we establish limits by offering choices.”
There are many “Tips” laced throughout the chapters—below is one of them:
“Love and Logic Tip 12
Thinking Words And Fighting Words”
“Observe the difference between some fighting and thinking words
- Child says something loud and unkind to the parents:
FIGHTING WORDS: “Don’t you talk to me in that tone of voice”.
THINKING WORDS: “You sound upset. I’ll be glad to listen when your voice is as soft as mine.”
- Child is dawdling with their homework:
FIGHTING WORDS: “You get to work on your studying!”
THINKING WORDS:” Feel free to join us for some television when your studying is done.”
- Two kids are fighting:
- FIGHTING WORDS: “Be nice to each other! Quit fighting!”
THINKING WORDS: “You guys are welcome to come back to this room as soon as you work that out.”
- Child won’t do his chores
FIGHTING WORDS: “I want that lawn cut, now!”
THINKING WORDS:” I’ll be taking you to your soccer game as soon as the lawn is cut.’
“When they choose an option, they do the thinking, they make the choice, and the lesson sticks with them. That’s why, from early childhood on, parents must always be asking thinking word questions: “Would you rather carry your coat or wear it? Would you rather put your boots on now or in the car? “Would your rather play nicely in front of the television or be noisy in your room?”
Here are the chapter headings:
Parenting: Joy or Nightmare
Mission Possible: Raising responsible Kids
Responsible Children Feel Good About Themselves
Children’s Mistakes Are their Opportunities
Setting Limits through Thinking Words
Gaining Control Though Choices
The Recipe For Success:Empathy with Consequences
The first half of the book is about 100 pages. The authors want you to read this before you read the 41 “Pearls of Logic” offering practical advice for some of the more common disciplinary problems during a child’s first 12 years. Everything from bedtime, children fighting in the car and potty training. These 41 pearls are really helpful because they have written out actual scenarios using the love and logic structure. Over and over the authors show how to hand the problems back to the children. In the “Pearls of Logic– Discipline 101 and 102”, the authors explain the basics, having your child stop when you say stop or sit, or go or stay. Again, they show you how to mean what you say when you have a request that won’t be ignored by your children. My book was published in 1990 originally and I would buy the updated book that came out in 2006, pictured above. When I read the few negative reviews on Amazon about this book, I can understand why people would feel this way. However, I would also read Daring Greatly by Brene` Brown and The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families by Stephen R. Covey to get a good mix of theory and practice ideas. There is also a Parenting with Love and Logic for Teens.
You aren’t doing your child any favor if you don’t use any form of discipline or structure. When you let them say mean things to you, you aren’t helping them learn the right way to talk to their future spouse or children. I also found that handing my children’s problems back to them, or saying, “I wish I could take you to the store but you haven’t done what I asked you” helps me feel happier about being a mother and not so overwhelmed.
Your reward for using “thinking” words and giving them back their own problems? Things calm down and there isn’t so much drama going on. Have any of you read Parenting with Love and Logic? If so, what has been your greatest success with its methods?