Positive Parenting: Healthy Families Begin with Healthy Parenting, by Marissa Palomaki

Parenting is tough!  I receive great questions and concerns from parents everyday through my interactions with friends, teaching classes, and even phone calls from both parents and professionals.  I’ve accumulated some of these questions and have answered them based on the “Love and Logic®” approach to raising children.

In May of 2011, Child and Family Services of the Upper Peninsula hosted a seminar welcoming Dr. Foster W. Cline, co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute, geared toward working with youth and families to reduce their stress, increase resilience and develop new skills.  It was offered for a reduced price that was made possible through grant monies from the Marquette Alger Child Abuse and Neglect Council.  I felt very fortunate to be able to attend and receive the book, The Pearls of Love and Logic, by Jim Fay, Charles Fay, Ph.D., and Foster W. Cline, M.D, which has helped me to formulate the responses below.

What am I doing wrong? I always end up yelling at my kids.

The Two Rules of Love and Logic® are:

Rule #1—Adults set limits without anger, lectures, threats or repeated warnings. When we describe what we will do or allow, that is setting a limit.  When we tell a child what he/she should or should not do, that is a possible fight.

Rule #2—When children cause problems, adults hand these problems back in loving ways.  We hand the problem back by replacing anger and lectures with a strong dose of empathy    followed by the logical consequence.

We should also be using enforceable statements rather than unenforceable statements.

Instead of:  “For Pete’s sake! Take out the trash!”  Say:  “I’ll be happy to do the extra things I do for you when you’re getting your chores done.” Instead of:  “Hurry up and get ready for bed” over and over.  Say:  “Bedtime stories start in 10 minutes. I hope you’re ready by then.”

Instead of:  “Quit calling those kids names” Say:  “You may stay on the playground as long as you aren’t causing a problem.”

How can I deal with lying?

1. Ask the child, “Do you think that I should believe you?”

2. Don’t force the child to tell you the truth when you already know it.

3. Give the child more positive emotion for being honest than negative for being dishonest.

4. Set consequences for lying without anger.

How can I teach my kids to do what I want them to do?

1. Give them a reasonable deadline:  “Just have the living room dusted by tomorrow at 6 p.m.”

2. Hope they either refuse or forget…so they can learn.

3. Avoid lectures, threats or reminders.

4. Do the chore for them, then let empathy and a consequence do the teaching.  “This is such a

       bummer. I did your chores. Now I don’t have the energy to drive you to your friend’s house.”

How do I take the mayhem out of mornings?

1. Have “practice mornings” when you’re not in a hurry.

2. Make a guide for them by taking pictures of them doing all the things they need to do in the morning and putting these on the refrigerator.

3. Set limits with enforceable statements:  “Breakfast will be on the table until the timer goes ding.”  “I give treats to kids who brush their teeth.”  “My car is leaving in just a little while.  Will you be going with your clothes on your body or your clothes in a bag?”

4. Enforce these limits with plenty of loving empathy..

How can I get my child to stop whining?

1. Make clear boundaries and rules.  Tell the child “I’ll be glad to listen as soon as your voice is calm” or “when I’m done talking to your brother.”

2. Tell your child, “You need to go somewhere I’m not and come out when you’re ready to behave in a way that’s not a problem for me (us).”

How can my child learn from his mistakes?

1. Say to your child, “I’m wondering if you think you’re making good decisions.”

2. Have empathy; don’t add your anger.

3. Say, “It’s so sad that __________________” or “I hear you.”

4. Don’t solve their problems for them.  Let them know you care about them and are available if they need help.

How can I punish my children?
Make the children realize what they are doing is wrong, but that you still love them.  Help them learn from their mistakes not by yelling, but by using natural and logical consequences (making sure it’s enforceable)

My child keeps forgetting her shoes (homework, gloves, etc.) for school. Should I bring them to her every time?

What is her motivation to remember?  Unless the school is mandating you to bring them, let your child suffer the natural consequences: lost and found gloves, sitting out of PE, etc. If you must bring an item, require the same amount of time it takes out of your day for your child to work for you.

To access “Love and Logic” resources, visit www.loveandlogic.com.

Marissa Palomaki is a mother of four and a parenting instructor for the Women’s & Children’s Center at Marquette General Hospital.

Adapted with permission from the Fall 2011 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.