Parenting can be a very challenging endeavor. From infancy through young adulthood our children count on the adults in their life to be there for them in many ways, as mother, as father, as consultant, as authority figure, as entertainment committee, as tutor, as maid, as chef, etc. The whole thing called parenting can get pretty tough at times even for the most saintly among us. At times we let the pressure build to the point of it affecting the way we interact with our child and the effect is usually not positive. Parenting with Love and Logic is an approach to parenting that teaches the adult to set limits in loving ways and to take good care of ourselves in the process. The Crow Wing County Family Services Collaborative has had three members of the Collaborative Service Team trained in facilitating the "Becoming a Love and Logic Parent" training program.
The Love and Logic Institute was started by two men, Foster Cline and Jim Fay in Colorado in the 1970s. Foster Cline, M.D. is a psychiatrist and Jim Fay is a retired educator and administrator. They put their collective wisdom together and began observing parents of well behaved kids. They realized some commonalities in approach to child rearing that these parents used. The information gained from these observations, coupled with their own experiences and knowledge, was the foundation of all the Love and Logic Techniques now in existence. The Love and Logic Institute continues to grow and provide a vast amount of resources for parents and teachers from all walks of life.
So how do we as parents set firm limits in loving ways? Love and logic uses a variety of productive techniques while discouraging some of the non-productive methods we parents sometimes resort to such as yelling, anger, threats, bribes, lectures, etc. None of these things is very productive in managing the behavior of our children or in building our relationships with them. Love and logic encourages the use of enforceable statements that let kids know when they can do something or when we might do something for them rather than telling kids they can't do something or bossing kids around. For example instead of saying, "You can't go outside and play because you didn't get your room clean," say, "Feel free to go outside and play as soon as your room is clean." This is a small, subtle change in the message but a very powerful one. We take the "can't", the negative, out of the statement and replace it with a pleasant positive "feel free." That way our child sees you as the good guy and their choice not to get their room clean as the problem. They are less likely to try to engage in a power struggle as we aren't saying "no" and we aren't bossing them around.
One root cause of a lot of misbehavior is the feeling of a loss of control. Let's face it, we don't let our kids make a lot of choices and therefore they have a lot less control over their lives than adults do. They are ripe for power struggles and resistance to our wishes simple because of their limited control. Love and logic teaches parents to share some control with their children by offering them lots of choices about things that don't matter much to the parent. For example, if you want your child to drink milk but often get into power struggles over it, try offering the milk like this, "Would you rather have a half a glass of milk, or a whole glass?" The child will often choose the half glass and they will feel like they got a deal. The nice thing about this is that there is no power struggle, the child gets some milk in their body, and they got to practice decision making skills. The bonus is that you have a lot of energy left at the end of the day that use to be wasted on meaningless power struggles. You might even have enough energy to play a board game or two with your child. It can be a lot easier to build your relationship with your child when you both have a lot of energy available and you don't have resentments from the fights and arguments you used to get into. Some other examples of choices include, "Would you like to wear your coat or carry it?" or "Would you rather clean your room on Saturday or Sunday?" or "Would you like to clean your room or pay someone else to do it?"
If your child is strong willed and good at getting you to argue about the expectations you have of them or anything else for that matter, simply say, "I love you too much to argue with you" and walk away. Love and logic offers many more techniques that help parents take good care of themselves while building healthy, loving relationships with their children.
The Collaborative Service Team offers the Becoming a Love and Logic Parent training throughout Crow Wing County on a regular basis. There is also an ongoing love and logic refresher group that meets 6:30 to 8 p.m. every third Tuesday at the United Church of Christ in Brainerd upstairs in the adult forum room.
To learn more about Love and Logic visit the Web site at www.loveandlogic.com. To find out about local trainings contact Pat Sharbonda at 855-5529. The next local offering will be a five-week Becoming a Love and Logic Parent training offered through Pequot Lakes Community Education. Check Love and Logic out; you're worth it and so are your kids.
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