In recent weeks, many parents have called us in desperation, wondering why their kids are not responding immediately to Love and Logic techniques, and even acting worse. This unresponsiveness in kids reminds me of my unresponsive garage door many years ago.
I loved my garage door. Well, not so much the door itself, but I loved the way I could make it go up and down without getting out of my car. I felt powerful and in control.
One night, however, I pushed the remote and nothing happened. I pushed it again—still nothing. Being a mature, middle-aged guy, I did what seemed the most reasonable course of action: I whined and complained. It remained unresponsive, just like my body is unresponsive to most exercise and diet programs.
Figuring that a good night’s sleep would fix its obstinate behavior, I tried again the next morning. My once golden-retriever-like door was acting like some cats—it ignored me. Desperate times call for desperate measures: I yelled at it some more. Then I stomped into the house and whined to my wife.
One of the greatest benefits of applying Love and Logic is that it helps keep a tighter leash on our own emotions and on our tongues. When kids see that pushing buttons no longer raises and lowers our doors, it’s not uncommon for them to push even harder.
When we do the right things, they often feel like the wrong things in the short term.
This is doubly true when parenting strong-willed children!
Instead of giving up, wise parents stick to the plan, remembering that the most effective response to button pushing is to get stuck. Give them the old ‘garage door response’ and give no response. Instead of giving in or arguing, these parents keep repeating the same loving yet dull statement: “I love you too much to argue.”
When parents start using Love and Logic techniques, most kids will push the buttons more intensely at first. Some psychologists refer to this as ‘extinction burst’ (a burst of behavior before it eventually, and thankfully, goes extinct). They may get louder. But eventually, if they get no success, they will move on from trying to push our buttons.
I have pretty much decided that arguing with my garage door remote is useless. It never gives in. If only I could be as consistent with my kids as this door has been with me!
You get the idea. When kids try to pull us into manipulative arguments or try to wear us down so that we give in, we need (and THEY need) for it not to work. This can be difficult and not feel very good at the time. But in the long run, the loving limits we set will pay off!
Start off this New Year serenely by learning how to neutralize arguing and keep calm with our MP3 audio, Keeping Cool When Parenting Heats Up.
Thanks for reading!