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Tips for Parents

Topics


How to Make Mornings Easier

Getting young children out the door on time each morning can be a hair-raising experience. Listed below are some tips for taking the mayhem out of the morning routine:

  • Have “practice mornings” when you’re not in a hurry. Try it on the weekend.
  • Make a guide for them by taking pictures of them doing all the things they need to do in the morning the posting them in a common area (IE on the refrigerator).
  • Set limits with enforceable statements. Here are some examples: “Breakfast will be on the table until the timer goes ding.” “I give treats to kids who brush their teeth.” “My car is leaving in just a little while. Will you be going with your clothes on your body or your clothes in a bag?”
  • Enforce these limits with plenty of loving empathy. This may mean taking your child to preschool in their pajamas or by expecting them to pay you for taking them to school when they are late. Hint: If you think you may need to take your child to school with their clothes in a bag, call the school and let them know ahead of time.

You can find more techniques in the Early Childhood Package.

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Helping Children Learn Responsibility

At Love and Logic, we believe that the most powerful way of learning to make good decisions is by being allowed to make some small mistakes, experiencing the related consequences, and seeing that the adults around you love you even when you mess up.

Far too many parents rob their kids of such opportunities by making sure that their kids never make mistakes, bailing their children out of the consequences of their mistakes, or creating resentment by showing anger or rejection. Listed below is a process for avoiding these common mistakes:

  • Give your children plenty of opportunities to make decisions over small issues. Examples include giving your child a small allowance, allowing them to “choose” whether they remember to bring their lunch to school, or letting them decide whether they want to wear their coat or carry it.
  • Hope they make a poor decision. Children learn to make good choices by making poor ones and experiencing the consequences.
  • Let empathy and logical consequences do the teaching. Empathy is the key! By being sad for our kids rather than being angry at them, they are allowed to focus on their poor choice rather than our anger.
  • Give them the same decision-making tasks again. This communicates a strong message: “We believe that you’ve got what it takes to learn from your poor decisions."


You can find more techniques in the Ages 7-12 Parenting Package.

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Helping Your Child with Homework

There’s no need to battle with your child over homework. Far too many parents feel that it’s their job to make their kids do all of their work. As a result, they find themselves in un-winnable power-struggles with their kids. Even sadder, their children begin to see learning as frustrating and bad thing.

Give yourself a break! Listed below are some guidelines for upping the odds that your child will view you as a homework ally…rather than a educational enemy:

  • Help only when your child truly wants it.
  • Help only as long as you are enjoying the process. As soon as anger and frustration enters the equation, you run the risk of having your child associate learning with these uncomfortable emotions.
  • Avoid creating unhealthy dependency. Tell your child, “I’m going to let you work on your own most of the time so that you will know that you can learn even when I am not sitting next to you.”
  • Help only as long as your child is working harder than you are.
  • Remember that it is far better for a child to get a poor homework grade than to believe that it’s their parent’s responsibility to force them to do their work.

You can find more techniques in From Bad Grades to a Great Life!

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Putting an End to Arguing and Backtalk

Does it ever seem like children carry around a little book called, “Arguing for Fun and Profit?” To put an end to this draining behavior, experiment with repeating the same loving Love and Logic “one-liner,” regardless of what your child says. The key, of course, is to maintain a soft, empathetic tone of voice. Listed below are some examples:

  • “I love you too much to argue.”
  • “Probably so.”
  • “I know.”
  • “I bet it feels that way.”
  • “What do you think you’re going to do?”
  • “What did I say?”
  • “I don’t know. What do you think?”
  • “There’s no time for making kitten britches.” (Some of the most effective one-liners are really strange!)

You can find more techniques in the Ages 7-12 Parenting Package.

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Training Resistant Kids to do Their Chores

At Love and Logic we teach that all children should make meaningful contributions to the family in the form of chores. Very small children can “help” their parents. As soon as they are six or seven, it’s time for them to begin doing their chores without reminders and without pay. Over the last three decades, we’ve developed the following three-part process for making this happen:

  • “A” stands for: Ask your child to do a chore you are sure they won’t, and give them a deadline for completion.
    While this may sound silly, resistant children will only learn to do their chores if they learn that failing to do them will result in some rather sad consequences. When assigning the chore, don’t say, “Do it now!” Give the child a deadline instead. This gives you plenty of time to figure out what you might do if the child either refuses to do the chore or forgets. 
  • “B” stands for: Be quiet. Resist the urge to nag, remind, or threaten.
  • “C” stands for: Consequences and empathy will do the teaching. Many parents are successful with saying, “This is so sad. I had to do your chores for you. Now I don’t have the time and energy to _____________.” Just fill in the blank with any privilege you typically provide for the child.

You can find more techniques in From Bad Grades to a Great Life!

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Handling Sibling Rivalry

Just about every family with more than one child experiences sibling rivalry. If your kids ever argue with each other, complain about each other, or tussle a bit, it  means that they are normal. Listed below are some tips for saving your sanity and turning sibling rivalry into a wonderful learning opportunity for your kids: Stay out of the problem whenever possible. Avoid teaching your children that fighting with each other is a good way to get your attention. Say to them, “It looks like you guys have a problem that you need to solve. I’ll be happy to give you some suggestions about solving this problem when both of you are calm. Separate them if necessary. If your kids continue to hassle your eyes and ears with fighting, say, “I’m going to have to do something about this. We’ll talk when everyone is calm.” Expect them to replace the energy they drained out of you by doing extra chores, hiring a babysitter so that you can go out and relax, staying home instead of being driven to their friend’s houses, etc. 

You can find more techniques in the Stress-Free Parenting Package.

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Potty Training

Potty training doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience for either you or your child. The most important things to remember are:

  • Little children copy what they see their parents doing. That’s why it’s so important to let your tots see you using the potty…and having a good time doing so. (While this may be a bit embarrassing for some, the results are well worth the discomfort.)
  • Offer lots of choices.  For example “Do you want to use the upstairs potty or downstairs potty?” “Do you want to bring your favorite toy or leave it in your room?” The more small choices we give, the less resistant our kids will be.
  • Remain calm and empathetic when accidents happen. Punishment never works when it comes to potty training.
  • Allow your child to train at their own pace. Some kids are ready before they are two years old, others aren’t ready until they are around four. When we try to force the issue before our children are ready, frustration is all we will achieve.

You can find more techniques in the Early Childhood Package.

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Driving Issues

On average, about 6,000 teens die behind the wheel each year. By following the suggestions below, you can dramatically increase the odds that your teen will not contribute to these sad statistics:

  • Offer your teen “good guy” auto insurance. This means that you pay the premium based on your teens maintaining a B average in school, achieving a flawless driving record, and in most states, having completed driver’s education. If your teen gets a ticket or declining grades, you can respond empathy, “This is such a drag. Your insurance is going to go up now. How do you think you’ll pay for the increase?”
  • Don’t buy your teen a car unless they are an ultra-responsible, nose-to-the grindstone kid. Even if this is the case, the car you buy should be an old one.
  • Remember that you have the right to restrict who rides with your teen an when your teen is driving.


You can find more techniques in the Teen Package.

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Temper Tantrums

All young children have an occasional temper tantrum to see if their parents will give-in to their demands. The key to handling this noxious behavior is to remain calm and to prove to them that you aren’t going to back-down. Oftentimes, the most effective response takes advantage of humor. Experiment with the following options:

  • The next time your child has a tantrum, keep on truckin’. Walk away, turn the corner, and peek around it. Make sure your child can’t see you. There are few things more fun than seeing a small child who’s beginning to realize that their fits aren’t exciting enough to get them any extra attention.
  • Encourage the art form. When your child begins a meltdown, put a bored look on your face and say, “Nice tantrum, but I think you are losing your touch. Last time you screamed a lot louder and kicked your feet a lot harder. I’m really disappointed. Show me how it’s really done. Give me your best. Come on.”

You can find more techniques in the Early Childhood Package.

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Eating Problems

Just about every child displays at least some finicky, resistant behavior when it comes to eating certain foods. Here are some quick tips for handling this in an effective way:

  • Remember that you can’t force your child to eat something they don’t want to. If you try, you’ll end up in an un-winnable power-struggle and run the risk of giving your child some long-term, unhealthy beliefs about eating.
  • Follow “Grandma’s Rule”: “You may have more of what you like as soon as I see that you’ve finished a bit of what you don’t like.”
  • Hope that your child experiments with going on a hunger strike. If they refuse to each what is served, say, “Maybe you will like what’s served for breakfast better.” Most kids need to experiment with going hungry before they realize that it’s smart to eat what is served.
  • Model good eating habits. Keep healthy foods in your home, and let your kids see you enjoying them.


You can find more techniques in the Ages 7-12 Parenting Package.

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Bedtime

We at Love and Logic don’t believe in “bedtime.” Instead, we recommend “bedroom time.” Since we can’t force our children to sleep, and it requires far too much energy to keep them in their beds, we suggest that parents simply expect their children to be in their rooms at a certain time each evening. Here are some additional tips:

  • Create calming rituals before bedroom time. This means that you and your kids always have dinner, have a bath, read a story, etc. in more of less the same order each evening. This predictability is calming and comforting to kids.
  • When bedroom time arrives, say, “It’s bedroom time. You may do whatever you want in your rooms as long as you don’t cause a problem for anybody else in the house.”
  • Set a time when everyone wakes up in the morning, no matter what time they go to sleep. If, in the morning, they are tired from lack of sleep, offer empathy and sadness, “That’s so sad that you are tired. It’s going to be a long day. That happens to me when I stay up too late, too.” Send them off to school, take them on a boring shopping trip, etc… and let the consequence do the teaching.


You can find more techniques in the Early Childhood Package.

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Disrespectful, Oppositional Behavior

When your child is disrespectful or oppositional, experiment with the following:

  • Avoid trying to reason, lecture, or threaten. Just repeat, “I love you too much to fight about this with you. I’m going to have to do something. We’ll talk later.
  • Remember that it’s ok for your child to “think” that they have gotten away with something. This gives you time to calm down and put together an effective plan.
  • Effective plans involve providing some type of consequence delivered in an empathetic…rather than angry…way.
  • One of the most effective strategies involves going on strike and negotiating for better parental working conditions. When your child asks for privileges, experiment with saying, “This is so sad, I do those sorts of things for people who treat me with respect.”

You can find more techniques in the Ages 7-12 Parenting Package.

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Misbehavior in Public

Most children experiment with misbehaving in public to see if their parents will have what it takes to set and enforce limits. If your child has developed a habit of self-destructing at precisely the least opportune moment for you, experiment with Love and Logic’s “Strategic Training Session.”

  • The first step involves putting together a plan with help from a friend, relative or neighbor.This plan will involve leaving the child at home the next time you need to go someplace.
  • As a surprise to your child, the doorbell rings and this person arrives to watch them while you are out.
  • You say to your child, “This is so sad. I’m worried that you might have a fit in the store, so I asked Mrs. Smith to watch you while I’m gone. How are you planning to pay her for her time? If you don’t have any money, you may pay with toys.” Hint: The sitter you get should be extremely boring!
  • When you get home, hug your child and resist the urge to say, “I hope you learned your lesson.” Just tell your child that you love him and that you missed him.

You can find more techniques in the Early Childhood Package.

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Nasty Attitude and Nasty Looks

When kids have a nasty attitude and cast nasty looks, such as rolling their eyes or huffing, try the following:

  • Minimize the anger and frustration your children can “pull” from you. Try using humor or encouraging the behavior. For example, when your child rolls their eyes, ask, “Sweetie…can you see your brains when you do that?”
  • If your child does what you want, don’t make a big issue out of the looks he or she transmits. Just say, “Thank you.”
  • If your child refuses to do what you ask, or this nasty behavior becomes chronic, teach in a very calm and loving way, that this behavior makes it harder for you to do the nice things you often do for them.

You can find more techniques in the Stress-Free Parenting Package.

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Kids Waking Parents During the Night

One of the most common questions parents of young children ask is, “How do we get them to stay in their own rooms at night?” Here are some suggestions:

  • Some parents decide to experiment with making their bed really uncomfortable when their kids crawl into it. They roll against their kids, put their armpits in their faces, pull the covers up over the heads, etc. They do this while pretending to still be asleep. Many children begin to realize that it’s a lot more comfortable to sleep in their own beds.
  • Other parents decide to run a little training session like the one described below: 
    1. Set up an evening to deal with the issue. Say, in front of the child, “We need to get a good night’s sleep and can’t here. Let’s go stay at a hotel to get a good night’s sleep”.
    2. Call a pre-arranged babysitter to come over. Make sure they keep talking about how the parents need a good night’s sleep. And if the child wakes the sitter up, make sure the sitter does  not give in to the child’s request.
    3. The kids can pay the sitter with money or some toys.
    4. All of this is done without anger and in a loving manner.

You can find more techniques in the Ages 7-12 Parenting Package.

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Avoiding Power Struggles

One of the most powerful strategies for avoiding power struggles involves giving choices within limits. It’s all about sharing control. We can either share control by giving small choices…or wait for our kids to fight us for it over big issues. Choices within limits are only effective when we remember to follow these guidelines:

  • For each choice give two options, each of which are ok with you. For example, “Do you want to do your chores now or in fifteen minutes?”
  • Give choices before your child gets resistant. If you give them afterwards, you reward resistance.
  • For each choice, give them no longer than 10 seconds to choose.
  • If they don’t choose, or they choose an option you didn’t provide, choose for them.
  • Only give choices that fit your value system.
  • Give 99% of your choices when things are going well.
  • When things aren’t going well, say, “You’ve been getting to make a lot of choices around here. Now it’s my turn.”

Some Love and Logic Examples of Little Choices
“Would you like to wear your coat or carry it?”
“Are you going to clean the garage or mow the lawn this week?”
“Will you be coming home by 8:00 or 8:30?”

You can find more techniques in Parenting with Love and Logic.

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Grades

There’s no doubt that grades are important! Because they are so important, many parents make the mistake of displaying a lot of anger and frustration when their kids get poor ones. When this happens, kids spend more energy thinking about their parents’ anger and frustration than thinking about how their grades will affect their lives. Listed below are some quick tips for responding to poor grades:

  • Spend most of your energy commenting on the good grades. The key is to help your child feel so good about what they do well that they will be willing to work harder at what they don’t do well.
  • Display sadness over the bad grades. Experiment with saying, “This is so sad. I’m sure glad that I didn’t get that grade. The good news is that we are going to love you regardless of how well or poorly you do in school.”
  • Ask questions about the bad grades like “What are your thoughts about the grade?” or “Do you have any plan to deal with the subject?” or “What sort of help can we give you on this?”
  • If consequences for poor grades aren’t motivating your child to do their work, stop providing them. When this occurs, it means that there are other issues that need to be dealt with first. These include helping your child develop a better self-concept, teaching them responsibility through chores, helping them with learning problems or different learning styles, etc.
  • Remember that good character is more important for life-long success than good grades.

You can find more techniques in the Teen Package.

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Different Parenting Styles

If you and your spouse have different parenting styles, there’s good news! Except in cases of abuse or neglect, our children can learn valuables lessons about real life from having parents with somewhat different approaches. That is…as long as we don’t fight with each other in front of them.

Fighting about different parenting styles does more damage to kids than having different parenting styles.

Experiment with the following tips:

  • Agree that you each will parent in your own way, but you will never criticize each other’s parenting techniques in front of the children. Your children need to know that you will back each other.
  • Be prepared for the kids to complain about the treatment by the other parent. Practice your response. Here is an example, “Well, Dad has his own ways. I hope you learn to work it out with him.”
  • Remember that there is nothing that messes kids up worse than learning that they can manipulate their parents against each other.
  • Allow your spouse to see you using Love and Logic and having more fun with the kids. If you refrain from forcing them to learn it, they’ll be more likely to want to.

You can find more techniques in Helicopters, Drill Sergeants, and Consultants.

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Parenting Children with ADD and ADHD

Many parents of children with ADHD wonder what types of parenting techniques will work with their uniquely challenging child. Here are some common questions and answers:

  • Q: Can kids with ADHD really learn, remember, and behave? 
    A: ABSOLUTELY!
  • Q: What’s the secret?
    A: Use the very same techniques proven effective with kids who don’t have ADHD.
  • Q: Are you kidding?
    A: No! Here’s why. Children with ADHD have the very same behaviors as children who don’t have ADHD. They just display them far more frequently and intensely. For example, all kids fail to pay attention from time to time, forget what we ask them to do, argue, occasionally misbehave in impulsive ways, and experience bouts or excessive activity, etc. 
  • Q: So, will Love and Logic work with my child with ADHD?
    A: Yes! In our CD Calming the Chaos of ADHD we teach how to match the high frequency and intensity of their challenging behavior with a high frequency and intensity of Love and Logic techniques. 
  • Q: So there’s hope?
    A: Yes! As long as you don’t get tricked into believing that they’re incapable of learning and behaving.

You can find more techniques in Calming the Chaos.

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Love and Logic Position Paper on the Use of Spanking as a Disciplinary Tool

The previous position we outlined on spanking in the book, Parenting With Love and Logic, unfortunately, was our thinking as of 1990 when the book was written. Since then our knowledge has grown. The world we live in changed, and we have developed new techniques that are far more effective than spanking.

For the record, our present stance on spanking is:

  1. There is no need for spanking.

  2. Spanking is counterproductive. It makes the adult into the "bad guy" instead of the bad decision becoming the culprit.

  3. Love and Logic techniques are far more powerful than spanking.

  4. Most kids would much rather have a spanking than have their parents use Love and Logic techniques such as delaying the consequence while the parent thinks over the problem, develops a clear head and then locks in the empathy before telling the child what the consequence will be.

  5. Since we now have such better techniques, why even consider, or waste our time with, spanking?

  6. A considerable amount of solid research is now available indicating the harmful, counterproductive results of using spanking as a disciplinary tool.

These six points, plus others, would make up the content of the chapter on spanking if we could write the book again, or when Pinon Press decides to update the book.

Please feel free to reproduce this letter and provide it for others who happen to be interested in the Love and Logic position on spanking.

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