By Noelle H. Lowery
I have one child, and all in all, she is a great kid.
Really, I am not just saying that because I gave birth to her. She rarely cried as a baby, and she slept through the night within a week or so of coming home from the hospital. Even today, very few issues rise up between her and my husband and I. For the most part, she follows our rules, and shows respect for her elders. She loves school and is a great student. We never have to nag her to read or do homework, and she is genuinely upset if she has to miss school.
Still, when I saw Tommie Barfield Elementary School’s Counselor Leanne Hope was conducting a seven-week parent training course, I was intrigued. After all, even the best kids cop an attitude every once in a while. Did I forget to mention that my daughter (at times) has an attitude the size of Texas and that she also (at times) has a flair for the dramatic that would leave even Scarlett O’Hara quaking in her petticoat?
Even though Hope began the current seven-week session in October, I decided to give it a shot as an objective observer (of course), and I attended the fifth class. The last class for this initial session at TBE will be held Wednesday, December 4, from 6 to 7 PM in the media center. What I walked away with, though, from just a single one-hour class was some unexpected insight into my daughter and myself, especially when it comes to discipline.
Dubbed “Love & Logic,” this parent training program was authored by Jim Fay, a former educator and principal; Dr. Foster Cline, an adult and child psychiatrist; and Dr. Charles Fay, a school psychologist and mental health consultant. It teaches parents a two-rule process. First, parents set strongly-defined limits in loving ways without hurting children, anger, lectures or threats, and second, when a child causes a problem, the child learns responsibility because the adult hands the problem back in loving ways.
Hope has been a proponent of the program for several years, and she taught two full sessions as well as booster courses to parents at Pelican Marsh Elementary School in Naples. She received her training through the Student Services Department of the District School Board of Collier County. For Hope, “Love & Logic” is an extension of TBE’s positive behavior support program which encourages students to “Be Respectful, Be Responsible, Be a Role Model.”
“In this day and age, parents and children are very busy,” explains Hope. “They work hard to find time for quality family experiences. This program helps parents to build on the good things they are already doing — expressing unconditional love, rewarding their children for great behavior and having one-on-one talks with their children. It (also) helps parents to be great role models of respect, calm and self-control when faced with difficult situations.”
At its foundation, the program is based on the C.O.O.L formula. It asks the following questions, which can be applied to almost every parenting scenario known to mankind: How will I share the CONTROL? Who OWNS the problem, and how will I emphasize this? How will I ensure that my child has an OPPORTUNITY to think about this? How will I show EMPATHY and allow the consequences to do the teaching?
Secondary to this formula, but no less important, is learning how to speak to your children in a meaningful fashion. Instead of nagging, demanding and being angry, “Love & Logic” parents use enforceable statements that show empathy for their children but also set limits with real consequences for over-stepping those boundaries. They also enlist the “one liner” to make their point and show empathy (see information box).
“Parents want the very best for their children. They love their children. Sometimes parents want to fix all of their children’s problems for them,” Hope concedes. “This program helps parents to hand responsibility back to the child and guide them to evaluate their mistakes and learn from them. Parents find that their relationships with their children improve, and their stress levels decrease.”
For example, instead of saying, “I’m not going to let you go out to play until all of your homework is done,” a parent might say, “Feel free to play as soon as your homework is done.” This statement made me think about how I speak to my daughter when she goes into her instant defensive-argumentative mode, which I’m sad to admit she comes by honestly. In fact, it is genetic. Both my mother and I have the same affliction.
Generally, I tell my daughter, “Don’t speak to me in that tone of voice.” Yes, it is true. I actually use that phrase, and usually, it is said in an equally unpleasant tone. “Love & Logic” tells me to say, “I’ll be glad to listen to you when your voice is as soft as mine and you can speak to me respectfully.” I have vowed to try this the next time the opportunity presents itself, and I believe I will too, because let’s face it, parenting is challenging enough without adding quick quips about “changing the tone of your voice, young lady.”
Still, the veteran “Love & Logic” parents attending Hope’s classes told me the real challenge is implementing the program into everyday life with consistency because old habits die hard. Hope says the proof is in the application: “The parents who have attended the ‘Love and Logic’ parenting program at (TBE) are already very involved in applying things they have learned week by week.”
Picking up a refresher course when you can does not hurt either. “Some of the parents have previously attended ‘Love and Logic’ courses in other locations,” Hope adds. “I found for myself that it was helpful to be exposed to the program on multiple occasions. Even though the techniques are very easy to implement immediately, I find that studying them for a second or third time helped me to apply the techniques more consistently.”
Let’s hope so. Now, I have some new enforceable statements to try out.
‘Love & Logic’ One Liners
• I like (respect) you too much to argue. • I know. • Probably so.
• Nice try. • That’s an opinion.
• I don’t know. What do you think? • I bet it feels that way.
• I’ll listen when your voice is calm. • How sad.
• Thanks for noticing that.
• What a bummer. • Could be.