Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Book Review - Parenting with Love and Logic

Parenting With Love And Logic (Updated and Expanded Edition)
It is hard reviewing parenting classics. Last time I tried this I could not give a glowing review. This time around I'm a little more positive. I had heard a lot about "Love and Logic" parenting, but I had never read the book, so when I saw this goodie sitting in our preschool's parent library I snatched it up. It turns out that I do a lot of their recommendations already: giving children limited choices to help them learn to think for themselves, setting limits, and sometimes allowing for natural consequences. What I am perhaps missing is the calm finesse the authors characterize as "consultant parenting." I tend more toward their "drill sergeant" mode, so I've been working on that with some success. One key point that I've taken away and that seems to be helping the general flow of life around here is that I should not allow my kids' problems to be my problems, unless they are truly too big for the child to handle on their own. Lately when the twins come with their latest "tattle tale report" instead of dropping everything to go sort out the situation I say, "Did you use your words? Tell them you don't like that," and I offer a kiss to help them find their nice strong voice. Unless there is a safety issue in question this keeps me out of the fray and lets them learn to handle hard situations, which they will eventually need to do on their own anyway. Wouldn't you like your child to be able to say,"I don't like that!" when another child is picking on them? There are a few things I really liked about this book:
  • First, they present their overall philosophy and then they provide a ton of real life situations (48) where their principles can be applied. Everything from pacifiers to internet use is covered at least briefly. It helps you see that this is not pie in the sky parenting advice, but really can work in a variety of situations. One of those 48 suggestions covers when to get professional help. I wish I had read that page about four years ago. It might have saved us a few months of heartache.
  • Second, their view of spanking is not that it is "wrong" per se, but that it is ineffective compared with other techniques they say leave children "wishing for a spanking." Considering that some of the natural consequences they suggest include the child paying for their own, yeah. Around here that could bankrupt a kid pretty fast. This is much more in line with my current thinking on this hot button topic. We avoid spankings almost entirely around here and have replaced them with several more effective techniques.
  • Third, they actually mention special needs children. Once. On page 130. It is presented in the context of how to help children handle bullies. If I have a beef with this book it is that they don't address special needs children and their parenting more, but at least they recognize we exist, briefly. I think a lot of the ideas in this book can be applied to special needs children directly - with developmental age taken into consideration - but it would be nice to hear the authors thoughts on this community. Not everything will work. The extended heart to heart discussions of a child's behavior post facto would probably spiral us back into the situation, and even if they didn't would not result in the "aha" moments described in the book. Language is just too much of a barrier for this to be effective for us.
One thing that I'm going to have to watch out for as I practice more of these techniques is that I maintain the right "voice" as I deliver the various parental  messages they endorse. The calm component is a big challenge with my short fuse temper. Providing choices just doesn't come across the same when offered at drill sergeant volume by a beet red face. The empathy component of delivering consequences is also hard to remember for the same reason. It would be easy to slip into either anger or sarcasm (which is lost on the child anyway) instead of the shared sadness the authors advocate.


Rose-Marie said...

Our two kids--one with severe disabilities and one without--were raised on Love and Logic (a system I learned pre-kids, back in my days of classroom teaching). It has been a great gift to our family, especially now that we're in the teen years! If the "proof is in the pudding," then I'd say L&L is a pretty good strategy.

There are a couple Special Needs titles available through Love and Logic. "Parenting Children with Health Issues" is my favorite, although my child is not likely to develop the level of independence or self-care they address. "L&L Solutions for Kids with Special Needs" also targets kids with much higher skills than my daughter's.

The L&L philosophy can work with even the most severely disabled, although we have to bridge some of the thought-processing for them without depriving them of their own learning. That part is a challenge!

I agree with you that we have kind of been left on our own to figure out the way to apply L&L principles with our kids with special needs. The books specific to that are written assuming some pretty high skill levels. But then, each of our kids is sooooo highly individual, I suppose the task of writing a book that covers everyone would be monumental!

KDL said...

Hi Rose-Marie,

Thanks for your comment. I wasn't aware of those other books - I did a very cursory search to see if there were any more specific versions out there, and didn't see any. I found their teen book and the book for grandparents, though. I'll have to check out these titles next. You're right that it would be a tall order to address each individual's special needs in one book. I guess I was hoping for some more general guidelines on how they felt their ideas could be modified for special needs kids and their parents. Overall I really like their philosophy and am trying to incorporate it into what we already do.

Rose-Marie said...

LOVE the Parenting Teens book! It sits right next to my Bible on my nightstand...and gets a lot of use. :0)

Sometimes reading it makes me a little nostalgic for "white tights or pink tights?" days, though...


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