Jul 18 11
by cara
at 8:23 PM
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Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood

I’ve read many MANY parenting books over the last 4 or 5 years, but few have really resonated with me as much as Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood, by Jim and Charles Fay.

This is SUCH an amazing book!  The principles are so simple and I’ve actually looked forward to opportunities when The Littlest Apple was acting up so I could apply a little Love and Logic Magic.  I’ve jumped in wholeheartedly with this approach!  I’m trying to convince The Picky Apple to read this book too so we’re on the same page.

I wanted to share a success story with you….

The book is all about helping children to solve their own problems and encouraging their independence while lending an empathetic ear.  Here’s how I put this in to action recently:

The Littlest Apple found a pen and wrote all over the bottom of our couch. (This is not the first time this has happened.)  In the past, I probably would have yelled, or sent him to time out, or gotten angry.  Here’s how I handled it this time with a little Love and Logic Magic.

Me: “Uh oh!  That’s a pretty big mess you made on the couch.  How are you going to clean that up?”

The Littlest Apple: “With a towel?”

Me: “Hmmm.  I’m not sure a towel will work.  Towels are better for spills.  Any other ideas?”

The Littlest Apple: “Some spray (cleaner)?”

Me: “I’m not sure the spray cleaner is safe to use on the couch.  Any other ideas?”

The Littlest Apple: “Call the carpet cleaner man?”

Me: “Well, he cleans carpets, but maybe there is a man who can come clean the couch…”

The Littlest Apple: “Ok!  Let’s call him!”

Me: “How are you planning to pay him?”

The Littlest Apple: “I don’t know”

Me: “Do you have any money?”

The Littlest Apple (checks his pockets): “Um, no.”

Me: “Well that’s a problem.  Maybe you can earn some money to pay to have the couch cleaned.  Do you want me to give you some chores to do around the house so that you can earn money for this?”

The Littlest Apple: “Yeah!!”

He cleaned up his room, dusted most of the house, and he swept the kitchen the floor.  The real kicker there (and probably the hardest part for him ) was that he had to move 4 chairs and 3 barstools out of the way before he swept and replace them after he was done.  I showed him how to do each task, but I didn’t worry too much about how well the job was being done.

After he had completed his chores, I gave him some money from my wallet ($8).  Then I asked him how much he thought it might cost to clean the couch.  We agreed that it would cost about $8.  So he gave the money right back to me.  We agreed that I would try first to clean the couch and if that didn’t work, I would call the couch cleaner guy.

PS.  Rubbing alcohol works great for getting ink stains out of couches…..

I was so pleased with how this whole scenario played out, that I kept my cool, and I felt like I really got through to The Littlest Apple.

So that’s my big success story. We’ve also had some small victories in other areas too, using Love and Logic…

  • cleaning up toys: “Feel free to keep all the toys you pick up.”
  • brushing teeth: “I only bake cookies with kids who have brushed their teeth.”
  • talking back and arguing: “I love you too much to argue with you.”
  • whining and tantrums: “What a bummer!  Looks like it’s time for some quiet time in your room.”

HOWEVER, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m also going to share a Love and Logic Magic FAIL that happened recently too.  (The day after the big success, in fact!)

We have lots of battles over getting dressed in the morning, and it’s a miracle we get out the door on time to go anywhere.  Since it is a pet peeve of mine to be late, I’ve learned to allow lots of extra time in the mornings when we’ve got somewhere to be.

The Love and Logic Magic approach to these battles is to stop with the threats, yelling, arguing and repeated warnings and use some enforceable statements.  Things like “The car is leaving at 9:00.  That’s in 10 minutes.  Let me show you what 9:00 on the clock looks like…”

For children who really procrastinate about getting dressed, parents are advised to pack a bag of clothes and place it by the door.  Then when your child continues to procrastinate, you say calmly, ” Sweetie, would you like to go to school with your clothes on your body or your clothes in a bag?”  Then if your child still doesn’t get dressed in time, you grab the bag and head to the car with your child.  Supposedly it only takes one time of following through on this to turn things around.

Last week I needed to run to Target, and had a time in mind when I wanted to leave.  I told The Littlest Apple it was time to get dressed, and laid out his shorts and a choice of shirts (big Love and Logic principle—give lots of choices!).  Then I told him that the car would be leaving in 30 minutes.  20 minutes passed by.  The Littlest Apple had taken off his PJs and was playing in the playroom in his undies.  I was biting my tongue, hoping he’d get dressed, but also kind of hoping I’d have a chance to work my Love and Logic Magic (remember, I was still on a parenting high after the way I handled the writing on the couch).  With 5 minutes to go, I packed a bag of clothes, and said “Would you liked to go to Target with your clothes on your body or your clothes in a bag?”  And he said…”I want to go with my clothes in a bag!  I want to go in my undies!  I like to go in my undies!”

Wait.  WHAT?!

Um, the book didn’t tell me what to do when my kid likes to run around in public in his underwear.

Was he calling my bluff?  I don’t think so.  The kid really does like to run around without any clothes on.

What now?

Lots of thoughts raced through my head.   I had no idea what to do.  Do I take him to Target in his underwear?  Will the people at Target kick us out or give us dirty looks?  Would I be brave enough to try it?  Should I put him in the car in his undies then make him get dressed before we go inside, or would that defeat the purpose?  (If he’d had jammies on, I would have taken him as is, but I think he still would have thought it was FUNNY and COOL to go to Target in his jammies.)

Then I remembered that the book talks about logical consequences.  If The Littlest Apple loves to go to Target so much (which he does, he was excited about going), then maybe we’ll just stay home….

So when the time ran out, I said, “Uh oh.  Looks like we’re out of time to get dressed.  What a bummer.  We’re not going to Target this morning after all.”

And he said: “That’s okay.  I wanted to stay home at play.”


I think the next Love and Logic book I read will be When Kids Leave You Speechless….(that’s really one of their book titles.  Appropriate, don’t you think?)

How do you handle battles over getting dressed in the morning?  How would you have responded in this situation?  Are you familiar with Love and Logic?  Do you use Love and Logic principles in your parenting?

Disclosure: I was not asked to review this book or any Love and Logic products.  This was simply a Good Read I wanted to share.  This post does contain Amazon Affiliate links.

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  1. Mimi permalink

    So funny!  Boys could care less about wearing clothes!

  2. Kristina Demoline permalink

    Thanks for sharing, sounds like a great book.

  3. Melissa permalink

    I LOVE Love and Logic! I have been using it for years as a first grade teacher (not just with the kids, but other teachers, parents and even my principle…. shhh don’t tell)…

    Now that I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old I use it nonstop! If I have to say “Bummer” one more time today…. It works beautifully on my 3 year old girl. It is a little harder with my 1 year old boy, but we are getting there. Don’t give up on Love and Logic. It takes a while to get really good at it. I plan to read When Kids Leave you Speechless next as well. I have a feeling my little boy is going to push things more than my daughter did. Thanks for the great stories! Melissa :)www.edlah.com

  4. Momof3 permalink

    Thanks — that really made me laugh.   We try to follow through with natural consequences with our Middle Apple, but there are plenty of times she dosen’t care about the consequences or because we have 3 kids, of which she is only one, we simply aren’t able to follow through.  Do I not take the other kids to the pool because she wouldn’t put in her suit, do I take, but not let her swim (imagine the tantrum that ensue in that public space), do I physically get her dressed and make her go?  Sometimes there are no good answers.

  5. Zahely permalink

    Hi Cara, I just found about your blog on Wednesday night with the girls. This story is hilarious!! I’ve used many Love and Logic approaches too and they really work! 🙂 By the way, did you get my text the day after you had
    Baby Slingshot? If not, Congrats to you all with the birth of your new apple! I love your blog..I can’t wait to read all your recipes and housekeeping tips. Keep it up and hope to see you really soon!

  6. tina permalink

    “I love you too much to argue” is one of my go-to lines when I am speechless or too tired to come up with a different consequence. Love it! A great article on sticking to your limits is: http://parentarizona.com/what-is-parental-debt/

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