Parenting Teens with Love & Logic

I’m trying to process this book so that I don’t forget the info this time!  I read Love and Logic for the Classroom years ago, but have forgotten most of the principles.  So I’m going to summarize chapter by chapter mostly for my reference, but for others’ as well.

Chapter 1:  Just like everything else, communication is key.

Chapter 2:  Many parents are either helicopter parents or drill sergeant parents, not consultants.  Consultants advise the teen/child how to live in the world, without protecting them from consequences or ordering the child how to live.  Consultants use “I” language:  I wonder, I’m curious, etc.

Chapter 3: Parents start messing with self-concept during the child’s 1st/2nd year of life, but not usually intentionally.  Boosting your teen’s self-concept with stated/nonverbal messages showing you have unconditional love, your own modeling of healthy self-concept, opportunities for your teen to struggle through (and own) their own decisions and responsibilities, and stated/nonverbal/implied messages that say, “I value you,” “You can think,” and “You have control.”  Responsible teens feel good about themselves.  Responsibility is caught, not taught, when parents share responsibility with their teens.  Let teens own their own problems and solutions.  If the teen’s thinking the real consequence is “Oh, this will make Mom mad,” she’s not on her way to independence.  Don’t solve the problem, don’t offer a solution, don’t offer advice, don’t be defensive.  Be empathetic, talk to them like adults.

Chapter 4:   Teens gain control through choices.  The “v” of control can go 2 ways, one with lenient parents allowing small children lots of control, which is gradually reduced through young adulthood, or one where consultant parents offer lots of control with small children, gradually reducing control as the child grows.  Avoid control battles at all costs.  If you’re forced into one, win.  Don’t threaten, and pick issues carefully and deliberately.  Those issues include respect for the parent, basic conduct in family life, control over the home environment.  Offer choices that are both acceptable to the parent, but not threatening or dangerous, and follow through.  “I” language:  You’re welcome to.., Feel free to…, Would you rather…What would be best for you…  Share control through thinking words.  Tell teens what you’ll do, instead of what they’ll do… what we will allow, what we will do, what we will provide….not what they will do, what we will not allow, and what we won’t do for them.  Express limits–what can be enforced–not wishes.  Bad decisions should be met with consequences and sorrow.  When the teen tries to argue their way out of the consequences is to use the phrase “probably so.”  Another phrase, “I don’t know.  I was going to ask you the same thing.”

Chapter 5:  Early bloomers are kids who were well-adjusted as children.  Normal issues…natural consequences.  “It’s an irritation to be around you right now, so why don’t you have dinner in your room?  Late bloomers had difficulties in the 1st/2nd years of life, but are otherwise well-adjusted.  Explain why they may be having problems with family/society, and give them the expectation that they can overcome these things, as well as appreciation for their efforts.  Toleration without permission.  Tell what you want, not what to do.  Troubled teens had chronic problems from birth on.  Destructive behavior is what teens do that do NOT teach them a lesson.  Parents can reasonably lower expectations.  “They’ll go through life accusing and blaming everybody else and trying to control other people, instead of first taking care of themselves,” just like their parents modeled.    In this context, helping becomes hurting.

Chapter 6:  Teens pass from only able to think concretely to a new way of thinking abstractly.  They change physically.  Values begin to explore changes.  Acceptance does not mean approval.  If it looks like the teen is going to make a decision with dangerous, life-long consequences, it’s our responsibility to protect them.  Parents have to weigh forced protection against the rebellion sure to follow.

Chapter 7:  Even though circumstances change from generation to generation, teens retain needs for control, affection and inclusion.  The more control parents keep, the more frustrated both the parent and teen become.  Instead of a power struggle over anything from grades to independence, be sad with the teen over poor choices.  As soon as possible, train your child to be the decision maker.  Even though you want to let your kid know he deserves the best, never get it for him.  Teach the difference between average and best, and put him in pursuit of the best on his own.  Decide on what you control, and learn to live with the rest.  Save your emotional energy.

Chapter 8:  Keep your child in check with the real world.  Give your child responsibility and trust that she’ll do it.  When she blows it, emphathize with her over the consequences, and give her the same responsibility again.  Ask your child what help she needs, and focus on her strengths.  Say no only when you need to, and mean it.  Parents are responsible for things that affect them (and only the first item of a purchase–not replacements), and teen’s problems are the ones that don’t directly affect parents.  Stand united with your spouse, whether parent or stepparent.  No punishments; only natural consequences with positive reinforcement. Use open-ended questions in communication.

Pearl 1–Who you are is more important than your appearance.

Pearl 2–When faced with physical aggression from your teen, protect yourself and your family.  The teen may need to leave the home if he refuses to choose an offered option.

Pearl 3–When you are concerned about your child’s appearance, say something nice if you can or don’t say anything.  Set limits for totally offensive appearances.

Pearl 4–In an argument, keep the monkey on the back of the person who owns it.  “That’s an option” is a useful phrase.  Clear thinking and staying calm defuse an argument.

Pearl 5–If it’s not win-win, it’s lose-lose in teaching responsibility.

Pearl 6–Typical backtalk results from a threat to independence or a right to protest.  Listen to your child’s ideas, and offer yours without making the child do it your way. Acknowledge a protest, and thank them for doing it anyway.

Pearl 7–Base driving perks on responsibility.  Good Guy insurance:  parent pays the premium  when the teen has a B average, has a flawless driving record, and completes driver’s ed.  Buy an old car for a teen who demonstrates the ability to handle the responsibility.  Restrict who rides with the teen driver.  The teen should make a deposit equal to the insurance deductible before driving.

Pearl 8–Pay a percentage of college expenses based on the responsibility level of the teen.  This could be on a reimbursement schedule (pass first semester, receive reimbursement in time to pay for second semester).  It can also be a matching contribution (parent pays equivelent of state tuition, teen pays rest, or match their work study wages on a percentage basis.)

Pearl 9–A crisis is temporary.  It does not have to be dealt with immediately.  Keep the monkey on the back of the person who owns it.  Decide if it’s really a crisis or a serious problem.

Pearl 10–Negotiate each time when the teen will be home.  Expect a call if she will be late, but don’t criticize when the call comes.  If she doesn’t come in on time, it’s fine to be too sleepy or not up to worrying for the teen to go out the next time.

Pearl 11–Know who your teen’s friends are and show interest in them.  “Decide for yourself if (whatever) is a wise choice.  You already know how I feel.  If you choose (the bad path) I know you’ll talk to me about it, act responsible, and accept the consequences of your decision.”  Ask questions of irresponsible teens to illuminate the path.

Pearl 12:  Respect and take good care of yourself.

Pearl 13–Draw the line on drug use.  Take care of yourself and don’t become an accessory to the crime.  Grant permission for the police to search the home and call the authorities to report a drunk driver, if necessary.

Pearl 14–Eating disorders require professional help.

Pearl 15–Your teen makes the decisions about who his friends are.  Support the positives and the consequences.

Pearl 16–Teach teens to view school success or failure as belonging directly to them.  C is a satisfactory grade.  Let consequences fall where they may.

Pearl 17–Grounding is ineffective

Pearl 18–If not in school, have a job.  Maintain a C average, show respect to parents, maintain household chores to earn a job otherwise.

Pearl 19–Mood swings are typical.  Encourage the teen to share her feelings.

Pearl 20–Don’t criticize music, clothes, hair, or friends.

Pearl 21–Never give an order without a consequence.  Give orders rarely.  Try “I would appreciate…” or “I’d really like it if …”

Pearl 22–Recommend skipping a party when the teen can’t cope with the setting.  Otherwise, allow natural consequences to take effect.  Require your teen to say where he is and when he’ll be home.

Pearl 23–Consider professional help when 1.  behavior declines steadily over a 3-month period or there are abrupt and dramatic changes in mood or behavior.

Pearl 24–No anger, no punishment–use questions and consequences.

Pearl 25–When dangers are real and threatening the teen, consider moving the teen geographically.

Pearl 26–Keep conversations open by being non-judgemental, non-accusatory, provide facts, and modeling a healthy approach.

Pearl 27–Don’t force your teen to talk.

Pearl 28–When the teen can provide a plan for handling an activity, she is ready to participate in the activity.

Pearl 29–In sports, guard against parental overinvolvement.  Help your teen prepare to talk to the coach instead of the parent talking to the coach.  Be sure bodies are developed properly for the sport.  Respect your teen’s wishes on your attendance at games, meets, etc.  Let the interest in the sport develop naturally.

Pearl 30–Discuss suicide with your teen to help them find other options to pursue.  Don’t force them into the options.  If threats/behavior escalates, or an attempt is made, get professional help.

Pearl 31–Strive for a loving parent-child relationship, with firmness and high expectations.

Pearl 32–Teens can play video games, with the expectation that they will get average grades, do their chores, and treat family with courtesy and respect.

Pearl 33–Teens attracted to a gang may need to be moved geographically.

Whew–It’s good stuff in this book.  This is the 3rd time I’ve gone through it now, and it’s always a good refresher.

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