Friday, June 27, 2008

Pokey Breakfast Eaters

Skill: Enforceable Statments and "Who Owns the Problem?"

One of my favorite Love and Logic stories is about the Mom who was always running late because she couldn't get her kids to the breakfast table. Her solution? She decided to use this enforceable statement, "Breakfast is served at 6:30. I clear the table at 7:00. Feel free to eat enough so you don't get hungry before lunch." If her kids were late or didn't finish on time she was careful to offer sincere empathy: "I am so sorry. I clear the table at 7:00. Don't worry though, lunch is at 11:00." If the kids did not eat in a clearly communicated window of time, she made it their problem and did not try to "own it" herself by nagging, warning, or lecturing. (All those things can destroy the value of letting children learn through natural consequences.)

If this sounds harsh, remember kids won't starve in 4 hours. If they know that a parent means business and they are hungry, they will get up on time. A mom who just couldn't live with letting her kids go hungry might change her statement to include, "Feel free to grab a cereal bar to eat on the way if you want one." (Again, without arguing, cajoling, warning or lecture.)

Love and Logic is about experimenting with skills in ways that you feel comfortable with. Use the ones you like and dump the ones you don't. There is no such thing as a one size fits all parenting system. Love and Logic comes close.

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