Saturday, April 28, 2007

Parenting with Love and Logic

I wrote last night about my recent parenting problems. I was becoming very frustrated personally (and when I get frustrated I get mean and intolerant). A couple of fairly unsuccessful outings drove home the point that I was laying a poor foundation for Kyle, so I decided to act. My copy of Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay and Charles Fay was in my reading pile. I thought that magic might be just what I needed, so I began reading it one afternoon while he was napping. I read half of the 166 pages in one sitting. I finished the other half within the next couple of days. The book is written in a light, non-judgmental tone, and yet it's still convicting and motivating. Most importantly, it's instructive. Specific ways to deal with early childhood limit-testing are not only illustrated with examples, but given as "experiments" to try out, so that parents can really practice these new techniques. I have a couple of friends who have used this logical approach to parenting, and I have learned from their example. As I read, I realized that this fits my parenting personality perfectly (that is, when I am parenting instead of taking the path of least resistance that I so often find myself on). I do enjoy empowering my children to make decisions on their own, to function independently, and to learn how to make choices. I always keep the end in mind, that my ultimate goal as a parent is for them not to need me anymore, but to flourish due to the framework that I have provided for them in their formative years. This is one of the basic principles of this parenting philosophy. So, I acknowledged that this worked for me, and I set to work at finding consistency in my discipline.

Can I say that the word "magic" in the title is not an overstatement? I feel like the parenting fairy has come and sprinkled twinkle dust all over our home. The result has been a calmer Mommy, one who can stick to her guns without getting frustrated, and more willing children. In these last couple of days, I have been giving choices. This is something that I have been comfortable doing, and have used it to diffuse my children's frustration. When Kyle hit that age when he started balking at getting into his crib, I would add a fun choice: "Do you you want to go in your bed like an airplane, or jump like a frog?" Then instead of not wanting to go to bed, he is choosing the method by which he gets into bed. Since I knew that this had a proven track record of working, I knew that if I used these options more, that I would probably get a better response from him. So, since he's still reluctant to actually sit on the potty (even though he's very successful when he does), instead of telling him he needs to go potty, I can give him a choice: "Do you want to go potty downstairs or upstairs?" Can you believe that something this simple has stopped 75% of the screaming when it's potty time?

This might sound to some as if the parent is letting the child control, but this is not the case at all. I am giving simple options that I choose, but that allow my child to feel like he is making a choice. But there are consequences. Another example is after telling a child to pick up his toys, a choice is offered. Do you want to pick them up, or shall I put them up? If the child opts not to clean up, the parent puts the toy away. For good. Until the child can earn it back somehow. A logical and immediate consequence.

I'm encouraged now, and we'll see if I'm able to do the hard work of sticking with it, all the time.

This book came from my Spring Reading Thing list: 5 down (wow--that surprised me), 5 in progress, and 6 to go. I'm doing great!

This is linked up with Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books. Click over and read some more, or add your own!


org junkie said...

Hi Jennifer! I really enjoyed reading this review. I've used choices with my older two when they were little and had completely forgotten how well this used to work. With such a big age gap in my kids ages, I'm starting all over and those early parenting skills are rusty, not to mention that I'm less patient in general. Will definitely look into this book.

nina said...

Thanks for the great review. I could use a bit of instruction with my challenging child. I so agree with giving choices as distraction. It has helped me out of so many power struggles. I can't wait to read it. My library doesn't have it so I'm putting it on my to buy list. I might read the original Love & Logic. Have your read it and how do you think it compares? My library has the updated original so I might try it first.

Katrina said...

Great review. Now that Logan's starting to throw fits and express his independence, I should probably get out my Love & Logic for a refresher course!

Great job on your SRT progress!

Shauna said...

My older daughter, who's now 5, has never really felt limited to only the choices I give her and usually tries to opt for a choice she comes up with herself. I think this method works for most kids, though!

MUISTO said...

Great post - sometimes there are so simple little methods that make a significiant change (and get you feelings from bad Mom to good Mom in seconds ;-)).

Will try with my goddaughter (who usually listens to me much better than to her Mom - I guess my tricks haven't yet worn out).

And I was wondering if the choice-questioning'd work with employees as well ;-)

Carrie said...

I will definitely keep this in mind. Thanks for sharing the book and your thoughts on it.

angeleyes Blue said...

It has been my experience that there is no rule that says you cannot offer loaded choices for example: The doctor said that my daughter had to have a piece of fruit every day. Not her strong point. Mine neither. I would give her a choice of a banana or an orange. I knew that she hated oranges but had to have the potassium from the banana. She would decide what piece of fruit she wanted! Not Me! So in the end given the CHOICE she chose the banana because she truly hated oranges.

The doctor was happy, my daughter was happy because she exerted her right to independence and I WAS HAPPY because there wasn't a struggle.

Do you think they have a place for moms who lie to their kids even if the outcome is favorable?

Jen Rouse said...

I'm going to have to check that out. I think all parents of a toddler wishes there were more logic and less screaming (by toddlers or parents!) in their lives.

Jess said...

I have "Parenting With Love and Logic", but I haven't seen this early childhood one. I'll have to be on the lookout for it, seeing as how I'm all over the map on birth to age six right now! :)

(I've got three kids: 1, 3, and 5 years old!)

;) Jess @ Making Home