Tag Archives: strategy

Use Catch Phrases And Calm To Manage Tough Moments

a hand holding a red iPod nanoOne of the most important facets of the Love and Logic technique is empathizing with children when they get into difficulty. I will openly admit that this has been difficult for me to pull off, because I too quickly end up sounding sarcastic or insincere. That pretty much ruins what I’m trying to accomplish and over the years I’ve given up in frustration more often than succeeding.

The good people at Love and Logic suggest saying something like, “Bummer!” or “Oh dear.” Find a phrase that works well with your own personality and use it all the time. This for some reason was hard to do, and I’ve tried a few different ideas out over the years but nothing has really fit. “Bummer” or “Oh dear” just aren’t quite a perfect fit for us.

Tonight though, I think I hit on what will work for both me and the kids. It’ll run something along the lines of “Oh man! That looks really difficult.” or perhaps “Dude! That’s a tough one.”

There’s more to the equation than just using the right words though. I think that not being angry is a big part of the success that Love and Logic parents enjoy. For me personally, getting to that point? Not so easy. And while I’ve attained a degree of calm in my life for now, there’s no guarantee that I won’t relapse into an angry fit here and there. (I just keep trying; and letting go of things that annoy.)

It’s not completely clear why I’m handling things with more calm than in the past. Perhaps I’m finally growing up. Well. Sort of. I hope to continue to be annoying in my children’s eyes young at heart for many years to come.

I bought an iPod last year and it has been quite popular with the children. I also bought a case for it, because keeping my possessions in mint condition is a value. Not so for the boys. They’ve been taking it out of the case and it is now scratched. On top of that, it’s common to find the battery run down or they put it where I can’t find it.

I sadly told them that they can’t borrow my ipod anymore, because it’s not being treated well enough. This morning I was pretty surprised to see my case in The Mercenary’s hand, walking into church. He’d taken it to cover the iPod he bought (with his own money) last week. Talk about a double standard! i made a big deal of teasing him over the whole thing, but I wasn’t really angry. Getting upset isn’t going to take the scratch out, and hopefully he sees my side of things.

Or at least he will someday when he buys his own car and I ride in it eating a really crumbly snack and leave my drink and coat and papers in the seat. Heh.

Innnnn the meantime, I plan to keep saying “Dude!” or “Oh Man!!” and cultivate more empathy.

by AmyL


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Setting Boundaries

wooden 3-rail fence in evening shadowOne of the things we all run into- whether as parents, or just as people- is where we set our boundaries.  What behavior is okay with us?  What’s not okay?  What are the house rules?  When does someone cross a line?

The next issue, of course, is how do we deal with this “violation” of often unspoken rules.  If someone keeps pushing us after we have been clear and said no- what is your next move?  How do you make it irrevocably clear that the argument is over?  That you are not changing your position?

One of my children is a masterful debater.  It’s pretty impressive.  He can see holes in any argument, come up with compromises, misdirect- it’s actually kind of amusing to watch, when you aren’t the one in the middle of the conflict with him.  He’s the child for whom the boundaries and rules must be the most clear and unwavering, because if you give him an inch, it’s over- he owns you.

The challenge for us lately has been to make sure he understands when I get to the point where I am done debating.  Like most parents, I am willing to hear my kid’s point of view, acknowledge their position, but once I have made a decision, it’s done.  I may give reasons, but I’m not open to being badgered and constantly revisiting the issue at hand.  While I admire “the attorney’s” persistence, I often get to a point where my patience runs out and I resort to raising my voice or even employing colorful language to let the child know the debate has ended.

I’m not proud of losing my temper from time to time.  I know tell your child to leave you alone and to give it up already are not particularly stellar moments in parenting.  But I also know that I need to construct firm and immovable boundaries, both so the Debater feels safe, but also so he understands command and control.  Sometimes you don’t have control and can’t make all the decisions.  Sometimes No is the answer, even if you want it to be yes.  Sometimes, there are reasons and things you aren’t ready to know, or people don’t want to share, and you have to accept you can’t get your way or cajole them into it.  Sometimes, you need to think about how your actions make the other person feel.

One thing that has seemed to work to end the debate is to get out the white board and list the child’s issue.  We list the points, the complaints, and make sure every single one is heard.  Then we try to figure out solutions, asking him to come up with ideas to make things better, and how to solve the problem rather than just complain about it.  I think this has helped him both get to the end of the list of issues he has, as well as helped me point out any common themes to the complaints and issues.  By taking the complaints from being abstract to concrete, and finding a way to move forward, looking for solutions and things we can both do to make things better, it takes a lot of the emotion out of the situation and focuses it on making things better.  It puts a fence around the problem and contains it, much like the boundaries I’m trying to set for him in the first place.

Setting boundaries and being consistent is often the toughest job in parenting.  But it’s often what we need to do for our kids and for ourselves.  Now if I can just transfer this skill into my relationship with others, I’ll be set.

by Whitney Hoffman

Photo graciously provided by Ben Oh, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

Starting School, Is It Ever Easy?

a hand holding a chicken nuggetThe first day of school can be pretty traumatic for parents and children alike. I would like to say that there is a special technique you can use to make it easy for everyone, but since all kids (and all parents) are different, all I can really do is to pat you on the back and say “there, there…”

My own kids are a fine example. They were raised and prepared for school in the same way, and reacted to it so differently.

My first son Chas cried a bit at first, then got a grip. He was never a big fan of school but resigned himself to fate.

Sam spent his first month screaming blue murder whenever I dropped him off, leaving me a quivering wreck every morning. He’d cling to the car seat, the gate, the school door, and me like his life depended on it. The teacher had to PEEL him off me every morning. I’d creep back, peek in at the window and the little wretch would be playing happily with his buddies, but that didn’t help me the next screaming morning! One day I said to him “Sam, I can’t take this any more. I understand that you need to cry if you are upset, and that is fine. But dude, this every-morning drama is too much for this mama. If you DON’T cry when I drop you to school this morning, I’ll take you to KFC when I pick you up.” Sam’s three-year-old eyes got as round as plates, and angels sang for him. He whispered, “…chicken nuggests???” and I nodded.

That morning, he waved me goodbye and skipped merrily into school, and never cried again. Huh.

When Max MY BAAAYBEEEE! started play school for the first time, I was all prepared for the tears, the creeping back, the talking it over, the extra hugs. I dropped him off the first day, steeled myself, and HE waved me cheerily goodbye and ran in to say hi to a whole new bunch of interesting people.

I wept all the way home. Am I qualified to advise anyone, therefore, on pre-school preparation? I think not!

But there are a few things you can do to make the first weeks of school easier in general:

• Talk about school, mention how much fun you had when you were little (even if you didn’t!) and take it lightly. Don’t treat it like a huge big deal.

• Routine matters. If your child is in a routine at home, this will help them to get used to eating, playing and putting things away on a schedule.

• Be sure your child can get dressed and undressed independently (including coats and shoes), use the toilet without help, and feed themselves. Help them to feel that they can cope, and encourage independence.

• It helps if your child has some concept of time. “I will see you after snack time” will make the day seem less long.

• Emphasise the things they may enjoy doing. Does your child love to play with clay? That’s a school thing!

• TELL THEM that you will collect them at the end of the school day. Sometimes they don’t realise this!

• Trust the school. They generally know what they are doing, and you can ask them for tips. Chances are, your child is perfectly happy once you are out of sight. Most schools will allow you to peek in later if you need reassurance!

• When you do collect them, mention the routine things you did, and what a nice day you had. Kids like to know that everything is okay while they are away from you. You don’t want your child worrying about you all day!

• Read to your child. This is the most important thing you can do to prepare them for school: Reading aloud to kids improves their listening skills, vocabulary and comprehension. Some kids learn to read simply by looking at your finger moving under the words and ALL kids find reading easier if they are read to. Make it part of your bedtime routine.

• And finally, if you can drop your child to school that first day without crying or clinging… give yourself a sticker for being a brave parent!

by Nan Sheppard


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Love Them Thoroughly In The Moment

Something I do when someone I love is pitching a bitch: I love them thoroughly in the moment. That is, I attune myself to my love for them, I remember what I love about them, and then I talk to them about what’s going on. – The idea here is that no matter what I’m saying, my vibe is clear: I Love You. And, under normal circumstances, the bitch-pitcher tends to relax. And if they relax, maybe they allow themselves to adjust their behavior, which makes it easier to bring things to a suitable level of coolness.

For example, if my son is losing his very mind because of a decision I’ve made concerning the amount of television he is consuming, I could just walk away. I mean, he’s yelling, punching the wall, doing everything short of lighting his hair on fire. Why not walk away? It’s safer and easier on the ears. But what does that teach him? What lesson does that impart? And where is the love?

Instead, if I am at my best, I remind myself of my deep and profound love for him. Once I’ve centered myself, focused on the love-light within my soul, I then focus on him and his deal. I tell him, “Hey, just so you know, I am kinda bummed about your situation. I feel for you, it’s a sucky situation, and I’d love to swing things your way. But you know I can’t. And now you are yelling at me, and that makes it hard for me to truly care about your feelings, which is what I want to do. Can you help me with that?” – And because I’m all full of love for him, looking him in the eye, speaking softly and with sadness, he calms right down. Now, this doesn’t work all the time, but it works often enough.

So that’s my thing, that’s my strategy. I validate what he’s going through, I communicate with love and sincerity, and I speak candidly about my feelings – no judgement, just my experience of them. And not just with my son. This works with my daughter and my wife and my friends and with the guy at the corner sweet shop. And, of course, it works with me. It makes me feel better about myself, knowing that I did my very best to give the other person every single part of my heart. Makes it a lot easier to sleep at night.


by Stu Mark


Photo graciously provided by Cali2Okie, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved

“I Can’t!” ~ Enough Said

a compass and attached chainTransitioning from the baby to toddler years, from a place where you do everything for them to teaching them how to do things for themselves is nothing less than a challenge, in my opinion.  Every time I would push for them to have more independence, they would struggle, and then I would wonder if what I’m expecting of them is more than what their age can handle.

So far my oldest son is just like me, independent.  He’s has taken the reins with maturity and independence and run with them.  So one would think I would have the perfect compass to go by, right?  All I’d have to do is pay more attention to when he achieves a milestone, so I can expect the same from the younger ones.  However, that doesn’t always work either.  For instance, my oldest rolled over at 3 months, sat up at 6 months, and knew his letters at 18 months all without my help.  When my other sons achieved those milestones at different times, that’s when I learned each child is different and what one can do by a certain age doesn’t mean the others will achieve them at the same time.

The words “I can’t” come mostly from my anxiety-stricken middle son as well the baby of the family.  The two of them combine to pose a challenge.  The baby, actually not in the baby stage any more since he’s 4 ½, looks up to his anxiety-stricken brother.  I think he would do a lot better, since he does have a strong-willed nature, to look up to his oldest brother, but that’s something I can’t control, only encourage.  His “I can’ts” come from playing the youngest member of the family cards, otherwise known as the “baby card.”  When the baby card is played, it’s a hard one to ignore because he is my last one. But I do my best.  Seriously, I do!

Then, as I mentioned before, there’s my son who struggles with anxiety.  His “I can’ts” happen on a regular basis, and when they do, I either get stubborn and make him follow through or take another direction to get through his insecurity.  It all depends on the situation in regards to the approach I take.  For instance, I planned for all three of my boys to go through 2 years of preschool since our Kindergarten is a full day.  Due to his anxiety every morning, he cried the two years he attended, which made it hard getting through the morning routine.  Then the last step of getting his shoes on was the ultimate challenge, and these were my stubborn times where I new he could do it and I was consistent in my expectation.  I spoke with the Psychologist about our preschool mornings and was told with a child like him he needs to be pushed, children his age can put their shoes on.

Now that my oldest is in 3rd grade, and has a helpful nature about him, he helps me with his younger brother when it comes to Kindergarten homework and “I can’ts.”  There are times Mr. Anxiety struggles with working with me, when it comes to homework. So I take the big brother approach to get him through it, and it works like a charm.  Thank goodness for my helpful older son.  He was born to be a big brother, just like some women are born to be Moms.

Being the doormat/people pleaser person that I am, I thought I would struggle with parenting, but thankfully my stubborn nature keeps me from doing that, especially when the words “I can’t” are uttered.

by City Chic On A Farm

Photo graciously provided by nullalux, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved