Love and Logic to the Rescue

Or: Hand Over the Toys and No One Gets Hurt


I’ve been reading Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years (cheesy cover edition) for a while but the last week or so I’ve been picking up my reading and my implementation. I had to, because the Joygirl’s been testing me and sometimes I flunk.

The basic idea is that you show your child love by offering empathy, setting boundaries, and showing you can handle them testing their limits (and yours). You use logic in that you give swift, clear consequences and you are always trying to help them learn to make good choices.

I thought I knew the general idea of Love and Logic but once I got into the book I realized some of my errors/weaknesses:

  • too many warnings
  • emotional reactions
  • too much lecturing
  • too much attention given in general to bad behavior, even if it’s negative attention
  • not making/helping her learn from consequences

So for example if AJ would throw a toy at my face, I might be on my last nerve and shout at her, grab another toy away, physically put her in time out, and then lecture her on how throwing things is dangerous and hurts and is not taking care of her things. Yeah, like a two-year-old cares about taking care of things. I mean, this is a being that poops in its pants.

Now if she throws something, I immediately and calmly take it and put it out of reach, saying something empathetic like “I’m sorry you won’t be able to play with this now.” (I read that I must work on banishing sarcasm. Oh, right, like I would ever use that tone of voice.)

And now, to curtail one of her favorite stalling techniques, I’ve started “you can keep the  toys you clean up.” If I have to clean them up, I get to keep them.

You should see my stash.

Also new is that instead of me just giving them back whenever, she can earn them back. So when she discovered after her nap that the Fisher Price house and Sesame Street are up on the shelf, I told her since I helped clean them up I got to keep them, but she could earn them back by helping me by putting her books that are dumped on the floor back on her bookshelf. She thought that sounded fair but then wanted me to help. I said I already helped you, now you have to help me. (Cue the tantrums.) She made an attempt later on when I was in there sorting laundry but got distracted and never finished, so I still have all the goods. Looking forward to having all the books cleaned up tomorrow, because dang she loves that Sesame Street!

She’s a great kid overall but this end of the two’s has definitely been more challenging than the beginning, and the older they get the harder it is to “make” them do anything. You can’t start too early. I definitely recommend this book. Especially if you feel like your child is an angel one moment and a demon the next–or turning you into that.


You were eighty percent angel
Ten percent demon
The rest was hard to explain
—Over the Rhine, “What I’ll Remember Most”

11 thoughts on “Love and Logic to the Rescue

  1. * too many warnings
    * emotional reactions
    * too much lecturing
    * too much attention given in general to bad behavior, even if it’s negation attention
    * not making/helping her learn from consequences

    Wow, I should probably read this I did all of these things today with Rena on my LONG day with the kids.

    BTW love Over the Rhine and especially that song

  2. I read this a while back when I was out of ideas about what to do with tobo as we were in that in between stage. Not old enough to know sorry but still starting to push the boundaries. I think it is a good method of parenting, though I could probably need a refresher now that we’re over 18 months. Overall I think it works, though I have to remember to cash in my “Nope, mommy’s making the decision now since you made all those decisions earlier. Mommy’s turn.” I’m still not totally sure if he should go into time out for a tantrum or if I should ignore it.

  3. “I read that I must work on banishing sarcasm.”

    So this is a parenting technique for mimes?

    And how can there be too much lecturing? On the other hand, warnings don’t fit very well with our family motto, so we’re okay there mostly.

    And the para. this ends is frickin’ awesome: “Yeah, like a two-year-old cares about taking care of things. I mean, this is a being that poops in its pants.” Great work, here. Keeps things in perspective. I’m going to quote you on this.

  4. I need to remember to stop trying to reason with someone who poops his pants and has no interest in pooping elsewhere. I’m glad to hear these end-of-2 days have been a challenge for you also, because they’re about to drive me bat snot crazy. The screaming, the tantrums, the back talk! (I told J to pick up his toys and he said “Nope, sorry Charlie!”) I, too am guilty of too many warnings and emotional reactions. I know what my next read will be!

    Happy Thanksgiving, friend!

  5. We picked up Parenting with Love & Logic when the girls were tiny just so that we would have a platform to jump from. It was a life saver. We learned to only give (1) warning, give them a consequence that we could live with, how to implement the “Naughty Step” and to remember that once their “time-out” was served, it was important to give hugs and kisses and lots of encouragement.

    These days, at 4, the girls get plenty of warnings, but 99% of the time, they make the “good” choice. Such a great feeling…

    Keep up the good work, Wendy! The amount of effort that you put forth only proves what a great parent you are…

  6. NEED that book. NEEd it desperately. Because 4 is worse than “the end of the 2’s” if you still implement all of the no-no’s. Which I do. UGH.

  7. We not only use Love & Logic with Roman (most the time – there are some special things we have had to start implementing) but I use it at school with students. They totally get it. Their irritation is usually because I won’t engage in an argument with them (“students who act appropriately get to stay in class”) so they can’t use their classic techniques.

    We have struggled with the amount of warnings as well, and are working on that. Doug is having to curb the lecturing – talking does not work. Action and natural consequence. And lastly, I do remember end-of-2 and start-of-3 being the worst. :)

  8. Amy, are you making some changes like time sitting with you instead of time out or anything like that because of attachment? I have heard of that although I’m not sure under what circumstances that’s advised.

    I think all teachers who have survived more than a couple years use some form of this!

  9. Sounds like a book filled with practical and sound advice. I think that was the book a couple at the Yachats Presbyterian Church was using to lead a parenting class. I know it impressed them.

  10. Wendy – yup, time-ins on our lap (holding), and often his consequences now are to try to teach more empathy (make a “sorry card” or have him think of something nice to do for the person he’s done wrong to). Therapist pointed out that we can’t make any headway with Ro until our parenting techniques are a little more… not what we grew up with. :)

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