In the updated Love and Logic Parenting Class – Parenting the Love and Logic Way, Jim and Charles Fay share the following observation, “Our heart breaks every time we see someone falling into the ‘consequence trap.’ Well-meaning parents become ensnared in this trap when they believe that the solution to all of their problems involves finding bigger or better consequences.” They go on to explain, “Freeing oneself involves understanding that loving relationships give consequences their power. Releasing oneself means continuing to provide reasonable consequences while at the same time rebuilding the relationship.”
Even though the Love and Logic curriculum focuses on changing undesirable behaviors in our children, the founders of Love and Logic understand the importance of the parent-child relationship. They understand that without a strong and supportive relationship between the parent and the child, even the best consequences can become ineffective.
As a child and family therapist, I often meet with parents with the same mindset. They come into the office and explain their child’s poor behaviors that he displays at home or at school and then they ask me what they can do to make him stop. Oftentimes, these parents have already tried punishments and rewards with no lasting effects. They tell me, “We have taken everything away from our son and he just doesn’t care.” In desperation they ask what they can do more to get their child to start behaving.
When the parent’s focus is just on making the child’s behaviors more acceptable, these parents can lose sight of what may be causing the behaviors and they may overlook their child’s underlying relationship needs that may not be getting met. When I get asked by parents what they should do to get their children to behave better, I will often respond by asking about the relationship between them and their child. I ask them to rate it on a scale from one to ten – where ten is the best it could possibly be and one is the worst it could possibly be. If the parents report that the relationship between them and their child is less than about a seven-and-a-half, I tell the parents that before we work on their child’s behaviors, we should focus on strengthening the relationship in order to make limit setting and consequences work effectively.
In the new Love and Logic Parenting Class, parents learn some simple, yet powerful ways of strengthening the relationship with their kids each day. Some of these methods include:
- Making every “hello” and “goodbye” a special event
- Noticing something special about your child daily
- Removing sarcasm from the relationship (Click here to learn more about the negative effects of sarcasm on children)
- Loving your child even when he is not acting lovable
- Neutralizing arguing
As the relationship between the parents and their child improves, parents will often report that the negative behaviors that originally brought them into counseling have become less frequent and less intense; and that their home is a much more peaceful and happy place. Loving relationships between parents and their children truly do give consequences their power.
To learn more about strengthening the relationship between you and your child and how to set and enforce limits effectively with children, join us for the next Parenting with Love and Logic class. Click here to see the class schedule for details.
Shiloh Lundahl, LCSW, is a child and family therapist in Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona. He is the founder of Parent Arizona and Counseling Services and is part of the Arizona Family Institute.
He provides parenting classes using the Love and Logic curriculum, classes for parents of children with ADHD, step-parenting classes, and advanced trainings for foster and adoptive parents. He also provides in-home therapy in Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Chandler, and Tempe, Arizona.