PARENTING WITH LOVE AND LOGIC
Tips for Keeping it Sane While Sheltering in Place
During this time of uncertainty kids and parents may be feeling overwhelmed with many new and different emotions. Families are spending more time in close proximity, roles and responsibilities are changing and being added to, emotions are heightened, and limits are most likely being tested more than ever. We can expect to see increased behavioral issues in kids. Be sensitive to the losses your kids are grieving.
Parents are hearing from teachers and other professionals that it is important to keep kids on a schedule, routines are important because they give kids something they can count on. Kids thrive within the safety and security of routines and loving limits.
In an effort to support parents, I am sharing some Love and Logic parenting tips that I hope you will find helpful. Please feel free to reach out with questions, if you need clarification, or if you are in need of additional support.
Arguing creates a major hassle for us as parents. Even more concerning is the effect it can have on our children long-term. It is so important that we avoid getting pulled into unwinnable arguments and power-struggles with our kids. The Love and Logic approach to neutralizing arguing is to use something called a One-liner. One-liners are a simple, yet effective way to neutralize arguing.
Our kids are going to be far happier and more responsible if parents are able to master the art of neutralizing arguing. Doing this requires that we have a loving one-liner right on the tip of our tongue. You will want to find a one-liner that fits your personality best, and use it whenever you notice kids trying to draw you into an argument. Some examples of one-liners include:
- I love you too much to argue.
- I know.
- And what did I say?
- Thanks for sharing.
- Nice try.
- I bet it feels that way.
You will notice that these one-liners are short and simple, that’s because the fewer words we use the more effective we will be. When we make the mistake of lecturing our kids, they stop listening and the opportunity for learning is lost.
Fewer words = More effective
It’s very important to note that the way we say our one-liners is just as important as the words we use. They will not work if they are flippant remarks that discount a child’s feelings. They should not be used with sarcasm, anger or for the purpose of getting even with our kids. Remember: The “one-liners” are only effective when said with genuine compassion and understanding.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EMPATHY
Empathy is essential! It is so important that we use a loving and sincere dose of empathy with all of our Love and Logic strategies. Empathy allows our kids to experience our love, as we come alongside them and offer emotional support. This is not a permissive approach, it does not mean that we defend their poor choices. We are showing empathy and love while holding them firmly accountable.
When parents deliver consequences, it is important that the empathy comes first, before the consequence or bad news is delivered. Empathetic statements might begin in any of the following ways:
- This is so sad…
- Oh, this is such a bummer…
- Ohhh, this is hard…
It is also important to note that it is okay to delay consequences, this works really well when parents are too angry to think straight or simply need some time to put together a plan. It benefits parents, and it is great modeling for our children. No one does their best thinking when they are angry. Delaying consequences allows parents to wait until they are calm to come up with a plan that they can feel good about. When delaying consequences parents might say, “I am very angry and I’m going to have to do something about this, but not now, we’ll talk about it later.”
Using enforceable statements is a powerful way of setting limits. Enforceable statements tell kids what WE will do or allow...rather than trying to tell THEM what to do. They can be applied to almost any situation/problem. Some examples that might be specifically applicable in our current situations include:
- I am happy to help kids with their school work when I feel treated with respect.
- I will listen as soon as your voice is as calm as mine.
- I charge $2.00 a minute when I have to listen to kids argue with each other.
- I allow kids to have time on their electronics when they complete their school work.
- I will be happy to listen to you as soon as I am off my business call / finished with my work.
- I give treats to kids who protect their teeth by brushing.
- I will do all of the things I do for you around here when I’m feeling respected and your chores are done.
- I keep the toys I have to pick up. You can keep the ones you pick up.
- It’s bedroom time. Feel free to do whatever you want as long as you remain in your room and aren’t causing a problem for anyone else in the family.
Parents can expand on enforceable statement by adding an empathetic statement and consequence:
- "I'm happy to do the extra things I do for you when I feel treated with respect. The bummer is, I haven't felt treated with respect lately, so I won't be (fill in the blank with something you will not be doing as a result of their poor choice)."
- "Ohhh, this is a real bummer, I won't be available to (fill in the blank) because I haven't felt treated with respect lately."
With some kids you may want to be more specific:
- "...the bummer is, when you (roll your eyes at me / talk back to me / call me names / refuse to do your school work / don't do the chores I ask you to do / hit your brother or sister, interrupt me while I’m trying to do my work, etc.), it doesn't feel very respectful."
Parents can plug in just about any problem, and anything that they do for their kids. Depending on the age of the child, some examples might include (and these might be different while we are sheltering in place): Doing their laundry (children can be taught to do their own laundry), picking up those extra special snacks, baking them cookies (or baking with them), supervising them so they can play outside, making electronics available, the list can go on and on. Remember, it’s the extra things we do for them.
What I love about this strategy is that it teaches our kids that we take good care of ourselves, which is so important for them to see. Since we are their role models, when we take good care of ourselves, they learn to do the same. They learn to treat us and others in more respectful ways, and they learn that they can/should expect to be treated respectfully by others. There is a lot of power in this strategy, and it is very simple to enforce. It's all about what we can control (what we will do and what we will allow).
When our children experience firm, yet loving limits, they feel safe and secure. This helps our home remain the peaceful and happy place we want it to be.
SHARING CONTROL BY GIVING CHOICES
We all need a healthy amount of control, kids do too. In our current situation, most of us are feeling that things are very much out of our control. The great news is, we can meet these control needs for our kids in healthy ways by offering choices throughout their day. Lots and lots of little choices. Some examples of effective choices might include:
- Do you want to start with your math or your reading today?
- Would you like me to help you with your school work, or would it be better if you waited for the call from your teacher?
- Are you going to turn off the electronics/TV now or in 15 minutes?
- Will you be having your snack first or doing your “PE” first?
- Do you want to do your school work at the kitchen table or the dining room table?
- Are you going to do your chores now or after you have a little free time?
- Do you want to go to bed now or in 15 minutes?
- Would you like to have your story tonight in the living room or in your bed?
- Would you rather have your bedroom door open or closed when you sleep tonight?
When we share control by providing lots of small choices (not big ones), we will begin to notice that it ups the odds of cooperation with kids. Parents gain power by sharing control, through choices (within limits) and asking questions. There is an added benefit, giving kids choices gives them plenty of decision making practice so that they will be better able to handle the freedoms they will encounter in the real world (long term benefit). We should also be asking lots of questions to get our kids thinking. Isn't this what we want for our kids, for them to be able to think for themselves? It can be fun to look for opportunities to do this!
"Questions create thinking, statements create resistance."
Providing choices within limits is one of the many ways we avoid getting pulled into unwinnable power struggles with our kids. It is so important to avoid these battles, because chronic power struggles can result in kids getting locked into self-destructive patterns of rebellion.
One last thought on the importance of relationships...
I would like to leave you with one last thought. The quality of your relationship with your kids is everything! Kids need to experience firm limits and accountability, but it must be within the context of incredibly loving and encouraging relationships. During this time of sheltering in place and distance learning, families are experiencing many challenges, but don’t miss the opportunities! Take this time to reset, focus on relationships and connection. Spend time being intentional in your love for your children. We want to look back at this time and recognize the ways that we grew in our family relationships and love for one another. Also, it is an opportunity to celebrate our resilience, to see just how capable we are. We will come through this experience stronger together!