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A better, calmer parenting method

Sometimes I yell at my kids. If you’ve ever been at the end of your rope after a long day, your patience worn thin and your kid looks you dead in the eye as he dumps out the box of animal crackers on your freshly vacuumed carpet…maybe you’ve been there, too. And maybe after you yell you also feel terrible, like me. Truthly, I’m not proud of the parent I become when I snap at my kids.  I often wonder what impact my reactions have on my kids as they grow. So this year I’m on a mission to yell less and empathize more. While I’ve been making great strides at implementing new strategies for being a more gentle parent I still have a lot of room for improvement. 

What is parenting the Love and Logic Way? 

Love and Logic is about Loving your kids so much that you are willing to set and enforce healthy boundaries with sincere empathy and compassion. The “Logic” in Love and Logic is founded in a growth mindset mentality, letting children make decisions and affordable mistakes and then allowing them to experience the natural or logical consequences, not as a punishment but as an opportunity to learn. 

What are the benefits of Love and Logic parenting?

Love and Logic is a gentle parenting strategy. The tools and techniques from “Love and Logic,” dramatically up the odds of raising responsible, confident, and happy children. Research shows that parents who maintain high expectations while staying warm and responsive are more likely to raise children with better mental health, develop good self-esteem, have higher academic success, be more independent, and create relationships based on healthy attachment. 

What are the consequences of yelling at your children?

While it’s normal for parents to get frustrated with their children, studies show that yelling makes misbehavior worse in the long run. Those who practice gentle parenting techniques such as Love and Logic understand that “the road to wisdom is paved with mistakes.” When a parent yells after a child misbehaves or makes a mistake, a child usually goes into fight or flight mode. When a child is in fight or flight, no learning occurs. In this state, all of their focus is on the parent’s reaction, not their poor decision or mistake.

Let me better explain through the parable of two police officers. Let’s say you are on your way to a party, and you get pulled over by a police officer. The first officer, “Cop A,” yells at you, tells you what a horrible person you are, and then throws you the ticket. You then go on to the party, and what is the first thing you say? “I got pulled over by the biggest jerk ever.” Your focus will probably be on the officer’s poor behavior, not on your own.

Contrast that situation with the second police officer, “cop B.” This officer pulls you over and immediately shows you empathy. “Man, that is a bummer you were speeding. I totally get it, though. It is easy to speed in this area. You were going 15 over, and I have to write you a ticket. Let me try and get you on your way as quickly as possible.” He comes back to the window and says, with empathy, “Here are a few options for you. You can attend traffic school if you have not attended in the last 12 months. You can pay the fine or contest the ticket. Whatever works best for you. I hope you have a better day.” As he hands you the ticket, what do you probably say? “Thank you.” That is right; you just thanked the police officer for the ticket.

Now, what is your story once you arrive at the party? If you are like most, you may not even have an account because you are so focused on how you will fix the problem you just created for yourself by getting a speeding ticket.

The consequence was the same between “Cop A” and “Cop B,” both issued a ticket; however, which one left you blaming the “authority figure” and which one left you blaming your choice?

When we show empathy and connection before correction, we up the odds dramatically that our kids will learn from their mistakes.

Does this approach work for every family? 

Yes. The application will look different from family to family as every situation is different. Disclaimer, these tools, and techniques are not to replace counseling and mental health treatment.    

How do I set boundaries with my kids without threats?

When we set limits based on things we can control, we are much less likely to feel the need to threaten our children. When a parent tells a strong-willed child what to do, the strong-willed child often does the opposite. Wise parents focus on setting boundaries based on the things a parent can control, such as ourselves, our environment, and our schedule. 

For example, if I tell a child, “Don’t use that tone of voice with me!” I am much more likely to follow up with a threat because all my focus is on the thing I can’t control, the child’s tone of voice. 

In contrast, when a parent says, ” I’m happy to you talk as soon as your voice is as calm as mine.” There is no need for threats. The parent can now follow-through, and talk to the child when the conditions of a calm voice are met.

The love and logic program helps parents set enforceable boundaries without lectures and threats. Effective boundary setting is a skill set that most have never seen modeled. It takes time and practice. 

What are some techniques I can implement today?  

When a child creates a problem, one of the greatest gifts we can give them is to practice fixing the problem. That is a real-life skill that will serve them for the rest of their lives. What does that look like? Hand the problem back. When your child hits their sibling, Ask, “what are you going to do to make this right?” When they make a mess, “what are you going to do to fix this situation?” When they create a problem at school, “I heard you created a problem for Mrs. Johnson today, that was a sad choice; how are you going to make this right?”

At that point, the parent will probably have to coach the child through some ideas of what they could do to make it right. There may be cases where the child chooses not to make it right. Not a problem; this is when the parent steps in giving a consequence with empathy and connection before correction. A consequence will help them better understand “cause and effect.” When I choose not to fix the situation, my parents do something.  

How can I implement these changes in Parenting when my partner doesn’t agree?

We often have just one parent show up to our Love and Logic workshops. Sometimes their spouse cannot attend, but they are sometimes not willing to participate. I encourage those parents to experiment with their new tools and skills and examine the results. After seeing their spouse achieve better results, some parents are more open to trying something new. What doesn’t work is nagging your spouse and telling them what they need to be doing differently. If the spouse disagrees on the consequence, delay the consequence. Get on the same page, then give the consequence to your child. 

What does that look like? 

“That was a sad choice that you made. I am going to have to do something about that. I will let you know after your father, and I have discussed this.”

If the other parent is demeaning you as you try new skills, that is not a parenting issue. That is a marriage or co-parenting issue. As co-parents or partners, we bless our children’s lives when we root for each other’s success. Kerby Seminar Group offers marriage courses or co-parenting one-on-one coaching sessions if you need support in this area. 

What are some resources you recommend for parents? 

Nobody knows and loves your child like you! While there are many parenting experts and resources available, none are as powerful as the confidence to know that you are the expert on your child. 

As the expert on your child, you may need help understanding appropriate behaviors in their cognitive development or ideas for more effective strategies than the ones your parents used on you. 

Come discover new tools at a “Parenting the Love and Logic Way” workshops. You can find schedules at www.Parenting.Rocks and additional books and resources can be found at www.LoveandLogic.com

Learn more: Larry and Kami Kerby are Parenting Coaches & Independent Facilitators of the Love and Logic Curriculum. You may reach them at 480-316-8383 or at parenting.rocks/contact

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