Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Love & Logic

Being without my trusty laptop has clearly decreased my blogging frequency. We have another computer, but after I have been spoiled with the convenience of having that laptop while I do other things (read: feed Ruby), I don't have the patience to sit in a secluded area at the desktop computer. I stupidly rationalized that I could stay up later last night because I'm not teaching this week-I simply have an obligation to continue being here (and in case you were wondering, I have three days after today-one of which is a field trip). Well, as you can imagine, I'm still tired, especially after the long and committed weekend that we had. The good news is, my sleeping baby seems to have returned which has made for much less restless nights for me.

On Friday and Saturday, I attended a Love and Logic workshop. I'm ashamed to admit that after I signed up to go a week ago, I found myself positively dreading the time committment and assuming it would be a waste of my time. That's what I get for assuming-it was quite profound, and I learned a lot more than I ever could have expected. Up until now, Jimmy and I have sort of taken an signed an imaginary contract detailing our parent strategies in the years to come. Obviously, neither of us are well versed when it comes to parenting strategies, because well, we haven't done it before. So, we've both been in agreement that we would take things as they come. Cross bridges as we come to them. I happen to think my parents did a fantastic job as parents with what I can only assume was a similar strategy, because everyone has to start somewhere, right?

As I sat in the class, I wondered if the other three people there (grown children) regretted not knowing some of the strategies when they were raising their children. They attended for classroom management purposes, but I found myself quite grateful that I had the opportunity to learn about such great parenting techniques before I can even really apply them. The thing I loved the most is that these strategies are applicable to ages 1-18, and effective at home or in the classroom.

Love & Logic was founded right here in Colorado, so I'm not sure if there are workshops in other states. If you ever come across an opportunity to attend a workshop, don't mimic me and dread the time committment, because I can tell you that it's worth it.

Love and Logic is the type of parenting that I have always strived to take part of without understanding the dynamics or really knowing how to implement. Some of the things are things that I have naturally picked up with working with children. On the other hand, I did listen to things that were discouraged within the program that I have been known to do on occasion.

I have been known to be a bit of a control freak from time to time (okay, okay, a lot of the time), and I have nightmare visions of me being this overbearing parent that my children grow to resent because I'm too scared to relinquish the control and allow them the freedom that they need and want. As it turns out, this course emphasized the idea that the more choices you give to your children, the more control you actually have, and the children believe they are in control as they get to make choices and realize the subsequent consequences. The key is, the choices don't matter-they don't affect the parents or anyone around them, but they are empowering to the child. The example given that I could relate to the most (and I think anyone can remember parents fighting this issue or they have even dealt with it themselves) is putting the children to bed at night. Obviously, we don't deal with the stalling, the 27 bed time stories, or the 13 drinks of water and following trips to the bathroom yet, but I anticipate they will arise. We were asked how well we would respond to being in the middle of something and having someone direct us to bed while expecting us to drop everything. I know, I wouldn't deal well with that, so expecting our children to do so is quite unreasonable. Instead, a warning would be a better approach, allowing the child 15 minutes to finish up and get things picked up. Then, once it's time to get ready for bed, you may give the child choices like, "Do you want to brush your teeth first or put your jammies on?" This gives them power in their mind but their choice doesn't affect the parent at all. The child will respond much better to choices of their own than statements of a demanding nature from the parent. By relinquishing our control (as it seems) and allowing our children to make their own choices, we are actually gaining control.

The same goes for consequences-children often pick silly battles and engage the parents in such things. I have caught myself arguing with my first graders or even younger children over such silly things, and now I have a way to overcome that. Love and Logic stresses that we are not to take on the problems of our children. If they make a poor choice, it's a good thing. It creates an opportunity for learning. I know that many kids (including me as a youngster and my siblings) battled with my Mom over eating breakfast in the morning. Looking back, I'm not sure why I turned down breakfast, because now I can hardly make it through the morning without a little bite to eat. Anyways, instead of Mom fighting with us over it every morning, she should have let us go hungry. She could have given us a choice saying "You can eat now or you can wait until lunch comes around." We would have learned quite quickly that there was a reason she was telling us to eat breakfast. Instead, it became a battle that shouldn't have been. Kids pick strange things to argue over, and as a parent, instead of engaging in these, you play "braindead," give a choice and move on. You're actually looking for your child to make mistakes so they learn.

So many things just really hit home for me with the workshop-it made so much sense. I'm not in to being a drill sergeant even though that's my natural tendency. It's not something that I am proud of-my control freak habits. I don't want my children to grow to resent me because I have such a tight grip on their every move. I also don't want to end up realizing one day that I have spoon fed my children all of their lives-they are forced to try things they believe will work and problem solve themselves when they are not successful.

The key to the choices is that they aren't given when there is potential danger lurking or the choices have the chance to affect anyone else. They have a system that they compare to making deposits into a savings account. The more you deposit (in terms of giving your child choices), the easier it is to withdraw-meaning, the easier it is to get away with making choices for them and the more likely they are to accept your opportunity to withdraw.

Another key thing they discussed was not taking on your child's problems. When your child makes a mistake-it's best to use a key phrase such as, "How sad." Telling them "I'm sorry," gives them the impression that you are taking the blame, so then they will look to you for solving the problem. Once they have made a mistake, it's not encouraging to give a lecture or to ask that they replay the things they did wrong. Clearly, the mistake will be brought to their attention in some way or another (in the form of a natural consequence) and they will learn.

And rather than arguing with your child, their stance is for the parent to become braindead. Repeat one phrase repeatedly and don't engage. Try not to think about the things your child is saying because that may become motivation for you to become engaged, and try to reason with them. A lot of energy may be saved if you just say, "What did I say?" Or "I know." over and over and over again. The child will soon understand that things aren't up for debate, but there was no argument. "Arguing with an angry child is like fighting a forest fire with gasoline." Instead of a heated argument in which the child is almost 100% likely to shut down upon hearing "fighting words" or yelling, use a strong dose of empathy to let them know you care and then allow them to problem solve themselves.

This course had so many things that I can't even remember all of them. I find this a bit sad that I was given such an overload of good information and can't retain it simple because of the amount. I will be looking for a refresher course in the near future so that I can be reminded of these practices.


Heidi Boos said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the Love & Logic course. I took a few of these through my education/teaching experience. So many things you learn in teaching relate to parenting. I'm grateful for those years I had to learn about all the different strategies. The biggest thing is trying to remember to actually use those strategies when you're in the "moment"! ;)

Best of luck with finishing up your student teaching...I wish you the best on your last few days!

Also, it sounds like you're busy so you may not have time to play along, but I tagged you, so come on over to my blog and take a peek...if you want to! ;)

The Robinson's said...

wow, thanks for sharing that...i need all the advice i can get because kaleb is so strong willed and i find myself getting frustrated when it comes to discipline, but the idea of giving choices (which i don't know if he will understand that now) is such a good and simple idea...i don't want to be like a drill sergeant either...i might have to look into this workshop...are there any books on love & logic that you know of???

~Chel~ said...

I read the Love and Logic book! It's great! WIsh I could have went to seminar though!!! I tagged you in my blog-if you feel like doing it!

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