Is Parenting with Love & Logic Possible with Multiples?

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Parenting with Love & Logic

This is a book review of Parenting with Love & Logic. This post is not meant to be judgmental, I’m just sharing what has (and hasn’t) worked for me.

I don’t know about you, but getting my children to behave and do what I want them to do is not easy. Times two. We throw food, we pull hair, we say no, we ignore directions. It’s a ton of fun. So, how do I handle it?

Coming from a background where my mom and stepdad parented one way, and my dad and stepmom a completely different way, I was fortunate to see how I didn’t want to parent. While you’ll never see me spank my child, and I rarely yell at them (unless it’s a dangerous situation), I realize that every person parents differently.

My MOMs group recently had a parenting guru come out and talk to us about the Love & Logic approach and how to incorporate it. Initially, I loved the approach. It didn’t advocate spanking or yelling, and I thought I’d give it a try.

Love & Logic book

When reading Parenting With Love And Logic, I started to have some reservations about the book. It has some great points and talked about how to let kids make mistakes (I agree) and learn from them with natural consequences (I agree) but it kept using the word ‘control’. How by being calm and loving, and using logical consequences as punishment, we could control our kids and their behavior. The book even says it will help you “establish control over your kids.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not that into being controlled. And when I try and control what my child is doing, it usually ends in tantrums. 

I also had an issue with the fact that the book didn’t address how to handle multiples. When the coach was speaking to our group, she was asked several questions that she couldn’t answer. She did say that it would be like any sibling sets (yeah, right), but when one mom brought up what to do when one child throws a fit at McDonalds and the other is being good, her response was to leave McDonalds. Doesn’t that punish the other child, too? She then followed up with a solution to leave and just explain to the ‘good’ child that they will get some benefit by leaving that the ‘bad’ child wouldn’t. A lot of the moms scoffed at that. I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that this might encourage more sibling rivalry, and it will certainly build up a heart of hatred between family members who feel wronged.

Imagine: your twins share a room. You have to punish one by taking out all the books because they are tearing them up, but the other twin hasn’t done anything wrong and loves to read. So, you are now punishing both of them, when only one did something wrong. You’re also still punishing, and the child who is getting punished is going to feel controlled and angry. Even when you approach it with love and logic. Have you taught them to treat the books right? Have you asked them why they tore the book, gotten to the heart of the matter (although, some examples do have you do this in the book, not all do)? Have you taught them to manage their frustrations and cope so that they know what’s normal and acceptable? Or that’s it’s okay to be angry, but this is how you handle it? No. If you’re using the Love & Logic method, you’ve just taken the books away and tried again the next night to put them back, repeating this until they no longer tear books. AND you’ve also punished the ‘good’ twin, who is now probably angry at the ‘bad’ twin and maybe even you.

I realize that we can’t always be ‘fair’ in parenting, and I do think there are some benefits to the Love & Logic method (like the empathy, logical consequences, and responsibility aspects), but I don’t think that consequences have to equal punishments.

So, I moved on. Looked for another angle – one that would meet the needs of my preferences and family. I became very interested in the Positive Parenting method (this is NOT the same as attachment parenting). I am a huge fan of Aha, Parenting! and have linked to her article about what positive parenting is, but the basic definition is this:

Positive parenting is parenting without punishment. It’s parenting that teaches the child to want to behave, to be considerate, to recognize and regulate their emotions, and eventually, to self-discipline.

Now, you do still discipline your kids, but did you know that discipline comes from the word disciple, which means, ‘to teach’? It’s not the same as punishment. That was important to me.

Another great resource for positive parenting comes from the Positive Parenting Connection. I love how she explains that kids respond better to guidance vs. control. How many times have you given your child milk, but they didn’t want it and it became a battle of wills? Guide them, instead. Help them feel a tiny bit in control and give them choices. Teach them to tap into their feelings and understand their emotions.

That article I just linked to above? Here’s a great excerpt from it:

Punishments and disconnected consequences like standing in a corner do not help with any of that. Like when my daughter ripped the picture, sitting in the corner was not going to make the picture whole again. It also was not going to teach her how to manage her frustrations or how to make amends with her brother.

So, this solves one of my issues with Love & Logic, but what about the multiples issue? Well, when you aren’t using punishment, you don’t run into as many fairness issues or anger issues from either party. When you use methods of guidance, you’re teaching everyone at the same time, and even fairly most of the time.

This method has worked significantly better for me with my surviving triplets than the Love & Logic method, and I’m happier too – I feel more connected to my children and like I’m helping develop them, not just control them. And I especially love that I am starting to really see the benefits and the learning set in. I have some really loving, helpful, considerate children. Well, most of the time.

Instead of being selfish, we’re caring for others and helping (she wanted to wear the hat, but couldn’t figure out how to put it on).

kids helping

Instead of fighting, we’re sharing (even stuff that’s exclusively ours!).

kids sharing

Instead of getting ‘in the way’, we’re learning expectations and life lessons (like cooking, cooperating, helping – and patience).

kids cooperating

And, ultimately, we’re able to be this:

happy mom and kids

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about another book I use that comes from a Christian perspective and mixes in some of the principles of each of these two methods.

What about you? What type of parent are you? Do you punish? Give choices? Use consequences? I truly believe there is no one right or wrong way, and that only you can decide what works best for your family.

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I'm a Home Run Hitter

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I’m a homerun hitter in this game called Parenting. That’s right! Some days I practically “hit the ball out of the park” with my parenting skills…but (of course there’s a but) then there are other days…those bleak days…where it’s three strikes and I’m out and I haven’t even finished my morning cup of cold coffee yet.

Last week I took part in a workshop, put on by a local social service agency in partnership with the Parents of Multiples Births Association I am part of. The workshop was on Positive Parenting and Raising Responsible Children (us multiples moms and dads need all the advice we can get, right?!) The facilitator used a baseball analogy in her explanation of positive parenting, which I will explain shortly.

We all want to raise awesome children and give them all we can to achieve success…but we learned maybe that is not exactly the right approach. We need to let children make mistakes, as painful as it may be to watch happen. We need to let them learn from their experiences, not clear the path or fight their battles for them, while thinking we are doing them a favour. We talked about the importance of give and take when it comes to the parent and child relationship. We heard about the reasons why children may seem to be “misbehaving,” when perhaps in fact they are having a hard time verbalizing or expressing what it is that’s actually making them react in ways we consider “bad.” We also learned from other parents’ reactions we are not alone when we wonder where the heck The Parenting Manual is and why didn’t we get training before we had multiples running around the neighbourhood when the lights are out and all the other kids are home in their beds?? Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but only slight.

The facilitator of this workshop discussed the importance of understanding the difference between praise and encouragement. Another key thought was to consider the difference between punishment and discipline.  At first glance I am sure many parents, including myself might think these words are one in the same, just a different way to state them…but with further explanation many of us had our “a-ha moments” going off one by one through the session.

For starters the facilitator explained a concept called STEP – Systematic Training for Effective Parenting. The main point that drove it home (like a homerun) for me was praise is used to reward only for well-done, completed tasks. From this the child begins to develop the ideal that “to be worthwhile I must meet your standards,” allowing the child to develop unrealistic standards and measure worth by how closely the child reaches the parents’ perceived level of perfection. From here children learn to dread failure. On the flip side, in comparison, encouragement is when a child is recognized for effort and improvement. The child internalizes the idea that he or she does not have to be perfect and that efforts and improvements are valued and important. Based on this type of repetitive experience the child learns to accept his/her and others’ efforts. It also enables a child to learn discipline and persistence to stay on task.

Bringing up the rear were the concepts of punishment versus discipline. I thought, Aren’t they the same?…one just seems to have a meaner tone? I looked it up, because that’s what I do, and yes, they do have similar meanings…but “discipline” is also defined as activities, exercises or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training.

During the workshop, “punishment” was outlined as our belief that we must teach a life lesson and that a punishment, such as taking something away will make the child think before acting next time or “suffer the consequences.” You may randomly take something away, that has nothing to do with the problem or situation and will make no sense to the upset child. That sounds scary and frustrating…Then on the other hand is the concept of discipline, which is to train the child by working with him/her to develop effective strategies for expressing their emotions and managing behaviour to avoid grocery store mid-aisle meltdowns for all to see (and judge.) To discipline, you have to work at achieving your own skill of understanding a child’s reasons for behaviour and misbehaviour, use firmness and kindness in your approach, look for solutions and alternatives and the ultimate goal is to teach the child self-discipline. In other words don’t start screaming and yelling, thinking you’re going to help the already frustrating situation. In this sense you’re really reverting to child-like mannerisms because you can’t get your point across. I get it…but it’s going to take a lot of practice to make it right…and ultimately this whole concept of parenting indicates we should not strive for “perfection,” but rather a balance of confidence in our abilities and a willingness to persevere and try again next time.

To close, the way the facilitator of the workshop summed up these ideas is that when you start to learn to play baseball, you don’t immediately know how to swing and hit a ball, or pitch and throw a strike. This was my a-ha moment, after playing many, many summer baseball seasons over the years, I knew what she meant. I realized this idea of baseball is similar to learning to parent; these are all things that take time, dedication and potentially many mistakes along the way to become as good a parent as you can be. Rarely does a pitcher ever throw a perfect game and so it’s reasonable to think parents will make mistakes, feel like they should be thrown out of the Parenting game and maybe even take themselves out of the game for a few minutes to collect themselves and then start again with a fresh approach.

Our friends at GoNannies.com asked us to share some of their similar thoughts shared on their recent blog post, How to Gain Your Child’s Cooperation Without Yelling, so please feel free to check them out for more advice on discipline and gaining your child’s cooperation.

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