Monday, February 14, 2011

Love & Logic?

I figured since today is Valentine's Day I'd stick with love as the theme for my posts. In this first post I want to talk about a book I was introduced to called "Love and Logic." As I understand it, parenting with love & logic means you allow the child's behavior to determine the natural and logical consequences. That means if your child is dawdling when you are trying to leave the house to go to a movie then being late to the movie is the natural consequence. Or, if they can't find their cleats because they didn't put them away, being late to the game (or missing the game) or having the wrong shoes is the natural consequence. Natural consequences don't always present themselves or aren't desirable to the parents. For example, a natural consequence for not getting ready to leave in the morning is that everyone is late. That is not ok if the parent has to be at work. There are times when the consequence has to be determined by the parent. For example, my daughter was really talking back last week (Thursday or Friday.) She needs to learn that I don't think that kind of behavior is ok. I don't see a natural or logical consequence to that behavior. My response to her is what I am struggling with.

The consequence for misbehavior in our house has several parts. First, they usually get sent to their room. My daughter tends to talk back while my son tends to hit. Those behaviors earn you time away from everyone else. Second, they earn an extra job (this is from Love & Logic.) Third, I recently instituted a fine system. If you misbehave, you pay me $.25. That works well because every week the kids earn a quarter for each year in their age. With four weeks it works out that each month they get $1 for each year in their age. I think $6 for a six year old and $4 for a four year old is more than enough. (It's actually probably too much but they divide their money between spend, save and give so it's not actually that much to just spend.)

So, the other day my daughter smarted off or talked back. I sent her to her room to get a quarter and she earned a job. I don't remember exactly the sequence of events but it went something like this: As she was leaving she either argued or stomped her foot, another quarter and job. As she came back she kept going with the stomping or arguing or talking back until she paid me $2.75 and earned 11 jobs. One part I'm struggling with is whether I should've just ignored the extra stomping and talking back. Some say you shouldn't get into a power struggle because, in the end, no one really wins. I think, though, she needs to know she can't get away with that behavior. She kept going to see what I would do. On one hand, I feel like I should have been the one to stop the cycle. I'm the adult, I should act like it. On the other hand, I think there needs to be a consequence for talking to your parent like that. Again, I am the adult, she need to do what I say. Even though I was getting aggravated, I kept my cool. She probably kept going because she wan't getting a reaction. So, in the end she stopped, paid $2.75 and needed to do 11 jobs.

The way jobs work here is that you have to do your jobs before you can watch tv, play Angry Birds or just play. Often the kids don't have time to do the jobs on the day they are earned. So, on Saturday, jobs have to be done before anything else. I know when kids are really little they need to have immediate consequences. I believe (as does Love & Logic) that after a certain point kids are able to understand that consequences aren't always immediate and that there can be consequences to your actions that you will be experiencing at a later time. Here's the problem, my daughter piddled and dawdled all day Saturday (before and after the daisy meeting) and Sunday (before and after church) and at noon on Sunday, she had completed ZERO jobs. Finally, by the end of Sunday, she completed three. She didn't get to watch any tv, go out and ride her scooter on one of the only nice days we've had in months, or go to her friend's Sunday for a playdate. I calmly reminded her a couple of times but didn't badger her because it's her responsibility and her choice if she wants to experience the consequences. She just wouldn't do them. The second part I'm struggling with is the not going to her friend's. She didn't know the mom called and asked. I told her late in the day on Saturday. Of course, she cried and asked if she could hurry and do the jobs and why didn't I tell her, if she had known she would have done them. I believe she needed to learn that you have to do what your told, because you are told, not because you want to do something else.

I think I did the right things but here we are on Monday and she has eight jobs to do. I asked my husband what he thought the deal was and he thinks she's just trying to get a reaction out of me. I'm doing really well then because it's not working. It doesn't feel good, though and, of course, I'm doubting myself. There are some things in Love & Logic I don't agree with. For example, once they talk about kids who misbehave at the park and suggest as you drive by the ice cream shop you say something like, "I wanted to take you to get ice cream but can't now because of your behavior." That seems a little much to me. In this case though, I think the Love & Logic ideas are appropriate, I'm just not sure if they are working. I guess only time will tell.

Anybody read Love & Logic? Had success or completely hated it?


  1. I've not read the book, but we kind of do the same thing around here. Last year, our oldest son, Natty, kept forgetting his homework at home (and I even volunteered in his classroom!) and one day when I went in to volunteer, his teacher asked if I had brought his homework folder in for him. I told her that I hadn't. She asked if it was lost. I told her it was on the kitchen table. She stopped and just looked at me. I explained that he needed to learn to be responsible for himself and that bringing his folder in for him when he forgot it at home wouldn't teach him that responsibility, but having to deal with the consequences at school of not having his work would be more of a lesson to him. She listened and then agreed with me and told me that she wished she had done that with her three children, because as adults, they were still struggling with responsibility.

    Anyhow, a long (even though abbreviated version) story to say that I think that natural consequences are the best. If my kids stay up late at night and don't follow bedtime rules and are super tired the next morning and want to sleep in, then they are just really really tired in school and will get into trouble there for not paying attention or falling asleep or whatever the case may be. It's the way life works and I am preparing them for life.

    You are preparing your children for life. You're not raising children. You're raising adults. Or at least that is the end goal, right? Just keep on. You are doing well.

  2. I LOVE Love and Logic! I've taken a class (6 sessions, 2hrs. each) at our YMCA and learned lots of practical tips, etc. so that parents don't have to yell at their kids hardly at all. It's so nice to feel calmer, and to get better results (it may take a time or two, or three(!) for the kids to realize how it works). My favorite part of it is learning how to adjust what we say to them, to invite cooperation versus provoking resistance. Their website has a list of some of the phrases which help: "Turning your words into gold." The book is great; the videos and tapes are hilarious, so that you're "learning while laughing." Try a class if you can, since you get to watch the videos (your library might have a video or two also.) The section on "Gaining control by sharing control" is another technique which is a true lifesaver!