As educators we are always reading and researching best practices when working with children. On the topic of effectively dealing with problem or challenging behavior I encountered a program called Love and Logic. Authors Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline give adults practical and effective strategies to help stay calm, manage behavior and develop productive citizens. Below are a few of those strategies that may be helpful for parents:
Neutralize the Argument: What child doesn’t love a good argument, especially one he knows the adult can’t win!! Instead of giving the child the satisfaction of arguing or getting upset, Love and Logic teaches us to neutralize the argument by going “brain dead” and using a one line phrase. Some suggested one line phrases are listed below, but every adult has their own one liner that fits them best:
- I know…..
- How sad……
- Love you too much to argue….
The key to this strategy is to lock in a heavy dose of empathy as you deliver the one liner and consistently repeat the one liner until the child gives up the argument.
Delay the consequence: Kids do all kinds of silly things when they are upset or frustrated and no surprise to anyone, so do we as adults. Love and Logic teaches us to delay the consequence when a significant problem behavior occurs, it sounds like this “Oh boy, that was a really bad choice, I am going to have to do something about that. Try not to worry about it.” Several things happen when we delay the consequence….
- We avoid saying ridiculous things like, I am calling the police and hauling you off to jail (for something like not doing the dishes)
- It puts the workload on the child. The simple phrase, “try not to worry about it” guarantees that the child will definitely be thinking and worrying about what will happen.
- Lastly it allows the adult time to think through the best decision, gather input from other colleagues and then deliver an effective, well thought out plan to the student.
Set Limits and Use Enforceable Statements: By setting effective limits and using enforceable statements, we avoid the threat cycle and don’t further escalate upset children. For example, to a child who is not eating dinner well a threat would sound like, “You better eat every speck of food on that plate.” The statement is ineffective and impossible to enforce. A better choice would be to say, “Dinner is over at 6:15, the next time we eat in this house is breakfast tomorrow morning.” No threat was made, however, the implied natural consequence is that if the child does not eat well before 6:15, the next food isn’t until breakfast the next day.
Love and Logic is a really helpful, practical program that can help educators and parents. Now that you have been introduced to a few simple techniques, I encourage you to experiment with your own children and continue your research of the Love and Logic skills. Fort Dodge Middle School will continue to study Love and Logic during professional development days and we hope you will join us in our mission to sharpen our skills working with all children!!!