I just finished reading Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting From Birth to Six Years. Confession: I think I started this book in about April. The slow-going wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I usually read about 6 books at a time. Bad habit! I read the original book, Parenting With Love And Logic, when I taught at my last school, because there are parts that align really well with the Charlotte Mason philosophy. But I didn’t really know how to use it with a toddler. In April, we had a few tough weeks and I felt like I might pull all my hair out. I went to a MOPS meeting one day, and a Love and Logic expert showed up. Don’t you just love those Divine “coincidences”? I decided to buy the book and get cracking on some better parenting strategies.
Main Ideas of Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood
Choices- Young children don’t feel like they have any control, so they’ll fight for it any way that they can. Letting them choose between two options that you’re okay with is a good way to let them have some control. You might say, “Do you want oatmeal or cereal for breakfast?” “Do you want to play outside or read a book?” The authors say that you should make sure to give options that don’t inconvenience anyone!
Consequences- If you do need your child to do something, but they don’t obey, they should experience consequences. The authors recommend sending a crying child to their room and staying behind the door until they calm down. Another example was temporarily taking away toys when a child doesn’t clean up after themselves.
Enforceable Statements- While you can’t control other people’s behavior, you can control your own behavior. Enforceable statements replace direct commands like, “Stop crying!” with “When you’re quiet, feel free to come out of your room.” Or “Mom gives dessert to kids who sit at the table for the entire dinner.”
Meeting Basic Needs- Meeting basic needs in the early years is mandatory for building a strong relationship with your child. As your child gets older, it’s important to strengthen the relationship through play, and paying attention to your child’s interests.
Where it Aligns
If you use the Charlotte Mason philosophy in your home, homeschool, or classroom, this approach aligns pretty well. Like the Charlotte Mason philosophy, Love and Logic parenting encourages consequences over punishment (punishment is retaliation, but consequences are intended to teach a child). Both approaches involve not reacting with anger at children (but don’t all parenting/teaching philosophies these days!?) Love and Logic also encourages not lecturing children- which is good because lecturing doesn’t work for us! Both approaches also encourage children to think for themselves.
Where it Doesn’t
There are a couple of things that don’t line up well. The Charlotte Mason philosophy works on improving habits, and if a negative behavior continues willfully, consequences are allowed (if natural) or applied (if relative). Love and Logic jumps right into consequences. I think that’s good sometimes (for example, scooping up a child who’s having a temper tantrum and putting them in their room), but in some cases, a child needs instruction and practice.
I’m not sure how I feel about enforceable statements. I love not using bribery to manipulate a child’s behavior in the CM philosophy. When we don’t use rewards for learning, knowledge becomes the prize. When it comes to general behavior though, the idea that children should do what’s right because it’s right seems a little unrealistic to me.
Some of the consequences mentioned in the book seem like shaming. There was an example of parents making the children pay for a babysitter (because they were causing lots of trouble and couldn’t go to an event) with their toys. The parents kept saying, “No, that’s not enough,” and had a grand ole time as their daughters brought them more and more toys.
What Works for Us
We’ve been using choices for a couple of months now, and it makes a huge difference in our day. I give options like, “Do you want me to put your brother in the car first, or you in the car first?” I also use enforceable statements in some cases. When I have trouble getting Miss H to eat her meal, I say things like, “Dinner is over in 10 minutes.” That feels less like bribery and more natural to me. The use of consequences (if I feel like we’ve worked on a habit or it is otherwise needed) is helpful too. I’ve noticed that it helps me feel less angry if I can just give a consequence rather than trying to lecture her when emotions are high. I’ll keep trying to figure how to merge these two philosophies, but I’m glad I read this book and I’m finding it really helpful for my parenting.
Do you have a parenting philosophy that you love? Please tell me about it!