Sunday, February 17, 2013

Show me some Love (and Logic)

I bought my first Parenting with Love and Logic by Cline and Fay in 1994 when my oldest daughter was five. I am convinced that this book and all of the derivatives that followed it (Parenting Teens with Love and Logic, Teaching with Love and Logic, etc) made me a better parent.  I wholeheartedly recommend it to the parents in my private practice. 

What's so special about Love and Logic? It is a strategic set of skills that empowers parents to equip their child/children for the REAL WORLD.

Think about this: Instead of nagging, punishing, bribing, and yelling our kids into good behavior we develop skills to give kids responsibility and hold them accountable.  We empathize with the pain of a bad decision instead of screaming them into remorsefulness. 

When I drove 12 miles over the speed limit the police officer was extremely calm when he turned on the flashing lights.  I was aware of my speed. (Gulp) I knew I had messed up. The officer told me what I did wrong and smiled when he gave me the ticket.  "Thank you" I said.  

Imagine if the police officer had been a raving lunatic?  What if when he pulled me over he reminded me that I had ignored a sign that clearly posted the speed limit?  What if he asked me "how many times are you going to make this stupid mistake?" or if he had grounded (jailed) me for a week? or charged me extra for crying when he was yelling at me?

I think you get the picture. Sometimes we parents do silly stuff like that.  It isn't loving.  It clearly isn't logical. It also doesn't work.

This happened over 10 years ago.  To this day I always drive the speed limit . . . on that road. "Policing with Love and Logic "had an impact. Since I haven't gotten a ticket since that time it might have generalized to other streets as well.  Love and Logic capitalizes on the concept that when people feel the weight of  bad decision the lesson tends to stick.

A kid example would be when Sunday mornings are "work first- fun second" at home.  Everyone  pitches in to improve the overall living conditions. After working as a family unit, the kiddos are encouraged to finish up their own spaces (room and bathroom).  The Oldest child piddles, plays, and procrastinates.  Everyone else finishes and it's time to go to the park! 

Parent :"I am so sad that you won't be going to the park today."
Kid: "But I worked so hard! It's NOT FAIR!"
Parent: "I feel bad when I don't finish my work and miss out on things too.  Don't worry.  You will get another chance next week.  I'll be hanging out here in the house with you while you finish up. I know you can do it."
Kid: "THEN can I go?"
Parent: "Not this time buddy.  Everyone is in the car ready to go.  It's okay take all the time you need today. You get another chance next week."

The piddler isn't likely to thank the parent for the accountability lesson.  But, isn't it nice that the parent is still on the child's side?

Top 5 Characteristics of a home that uses Love and Logic principals:
  1. Parents send CAN DO messages.
  2. Children feel good about themselves.
  3. Parents feel good about themselves.
  4. Children know more about their STRENGTHS than their weaknesses.
  5. Real world/logical CONSEQUENCES are the basic discipline tools.
Intrigued?  Check out  for resources, and come back to this blog for periodic installments of Love and Logic "Pearls of Wisdom." Parenting with Love and Logic books and audiotapes are available at bookstores and on Amazon. 

Fun Fact:  I once had the opportunity to meet with author Jim Fay when he came to speak to our community.  He was witty, engaging, and passionate about developing responsible kids. 

Oh.  And he signed my book

Please comment with an example of Love and Logic in YOUR LIFE!


  1. Jim Fay made me a better teacher. His ideas work like magic. I confess it was much easier to implement in the classroom than at home because...well, my own children have a knack for pushing the buttons that turn off my logic. Thanks for the reminder that it works wonders--and it can actually be fun.

    1. Update: Since reading this post, I've practiced Love and Logic. Sure, there's still whining around here, but there's less of it. And more importantly, it isn't stressing me out. Woohoo!

    2. Brandi, there might still have been whining, but at least it wasn't you doing it! :-)

  2. Good stuff. In addition to parenting, I can see these principles being used effectively in classrooms, daycares, church groups and other children-centered environments.

    1. Shel, if you get really good at them and you're subtle, these principles can also work on spouses. :-)

  3. Oh, thank you, Lisa, for endorsing this wonderful approach to discipline. As it did with Brandi, Love and Logic transformed my teaching life. It might be a little long, but I do have a personal experience to relate about Jim Fay. He was doing a workshop at our school, and during a break I had a chance to speak with him. He was indeed all the things you say and also personable and kind. I asked him what I should do about a particularly rowdy class in which there were several troublemakers who fed off each other. He told me that starting with the very next class, I should stand outside my door every day and say something positive to every student who entered the classroom.He told me if I didn't see improvement within the next two weeks to call him and he'd give me more suggestions. I did as he said, and I never had to make that call. With that one simple step, the attitude change in that class was dramatic. And when I applied other of his techniques, as Brandi said, the result was almost magical.

    1. Thanks everyone for the great teacher/testimonials! I hope people are inspired to add this tool to their toolbox in working with kids of all ages- and spouses too (shh- I won't tell if you won't tell)