Feb 22 / Simcha

From Drill Sergeant to Relaxed Parent

Parenting with Love and Logic® is a nation-wide program founded by Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline, M.D. to help parents raise happy, responsible children (and to make parenting more enjoyable as a bonus).  The following are some of the program’s key concepts, guidelines that can help parents take control of their home life in loving ways.

Preserve and enhance the child’s self-concept.
Encourage children to struggle with solvable problems, receive guidance from adults, achieve success, and attribute their successes to these efforts.  These types of internal attributions to effort or struggle (as opposed to praise for the outcome; see Encouragement vs Praise) are key to developing high levels of motivation and achievement.

Teach children how to own and solve the problems they create.
Children develop problem-solving skills only when two conditions exist: (1) they are required by the adults around them to think about and solve the problems they create; and (2) these adults teach problem-solving skills through modeling and instruction.

Regarding the first condition: Clear boundaries must be determined regarding problem-ownership; parents should not take on problems that can be solved by children, and children should not be required to take on adult problems. Regarding the second condition: When parents and educators model solving their own problems and guide children to do the same, children begin to learn these crucial skills (identify and define the problem; brainstorm solutions; evaluate each solution; implement the solution chosen).

Share the control and decision-making.
Healthy control is a basic human emotional need. Shared control enhances general levels of cooperation, and improves people’s ability to cope with stressful situations (even your three-year-old can enjoy some control in choosing what she wants to wear, for example; allow her to choose between 3 or 4 outfits).

Combine consequences with high levels of empathy, warmth and respect.
From the early work of Thorndike (1905) and Skinner (1953), it is clear that behaviors yielding positive consequences tend to increase in frequency, whereas those producing negative consequences tend to diminish.  A focus on behavioral principles and consequences alone, on the other hand, fails to prevent behavior problems; fails to teach appropriate replacement behaviors; and contributes to withdrawal, avoidance, or retaliatory aggression.

When behavioral principles and consequences are combined with high levels of trust, empathy, and warmth, students/children are more likely to be cooperative and to copy pro-social behavior modeled by adults.

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Adapted from:  Charles Fay, Ph.D., Effects of Becoming a Love and Logic® Parent Training Program on Parents’ Perceptions of their Children’s Behavior and Their Own Parental Competence: A Preliminary Investigation