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Parenting With Love and Logic: Does It Really Work?

Updated on July 20, 2012

In The Good Old Days...

Did parents of old produce better behaved children?
Did parents of old produce better behaved children? | Source

How Are Parents Faring Today?

It is interesting sometimes to read parenting tips from years back and to compare them to what is now being taught about parenting. What strikes me as particularly interesting is that as much as today’s society wants to fault parents of the “olden days” with their methods (i.e.: spanking), the majority of those kids seemed to turn out okay. Compare that to the many problems facing teenagers and young adults today: drugs, alcohol, teen pregnancies, etc., and suddenly it seems like those “old-fashioned” parents didn’t do so bad after all.

Of course, some of the advice of old has been shown to be outdated, such as the myth that holding your baby too often will spoil him or her. Here are two amazing quotes I found by a behaviorist who wrote a book about raising children in the 1920s. I sure am glad we don't abide by these guidelines anymore!

"Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select–doctor, lawyer, artist – regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors" (John B Watson,1930)

"Treat them as though they were young adults. Dress them, bathe them with care and circumspection. Let your behavior always be objective and kindly firm. Never hug and kiss them, never let them sit on your lap ... Shake hands with them in the morning." (John B Watson, 1928)

What They Used To Use...

Although these types of paddles were used often in the past, it is rare to see one today.
Although these types of paddles were used often in the past, it is rare to see one today. | Source

To Spank or Not to Spank?

I had made the statement at one point in my life that I would never spank my children. At another time, I insisted that what certain children needed to shape up was a good spanking. These were both before I was a parent myself.

One thing I never understood until I held my babies in my own arms was the overwhelming love a parent feels for their child. I thought I would be so unmoving in my rules and so consistent with my discipline, yet I did not account for those big puppy eyes to stare at me or that big slobbery kiss to move me so deeply.

The Firstborn

I admit I had a lot of thoughts and opinions about parenting before my first child was born. Some of those opinions have not changed, but many have. It is still a learning process, and I am still making mistakes all the time.

When my oldest daughter was younger, we would snick her on the hands or mouth and use hair pulls for other transgressions. Honestly, we knew no other way, and she seemed too young at the time to understand a time-out. However, I do remember the one time we placed her in her crib to calm down as she was pitching a fit, and it was miraculous. She was a changed child for about four days.

And Then Comes Number Two…

Of course, as soon as we thought we had it down pat, we had a boy. It’s no joke that boys and girls are vastly different, and my second child taught us a lot. My daughter dislikes any form of discipline, and even a threat can keep her in line. My first born son is a very loving boy…and also a pure boy, in the sense of mischievousness and laughing in the face of discipline. Just when I was about to tear my hair out with frustration, I learned about Love and Logic.

Sweet Baby Smooches

It is possible to enjoy parenting!
It is possible to enjoy parenting! | Source

Introduction To The Love and Logic Principles

I had enrolled my two oldest in the Early Childhood Family Education classes. I left the baby with some nieces and the two oldest got to have a couple hours of fun, including a snack and story time. About halfway through playtime, the parents had a class. This is where I saw the book Love and Logic Magic For Early Childhood.

I had actually heard of Love and Logic before and had even read one of the books. At the time, the concepts and practices discussed in the book seemed way over my kids’ heads. I was surprised and delighted to see that they had written a book specifically for younger kids.

Keep Your Children Smiling

Amazing! Happy, well-disciplined children are within reach.
Amazing! Happy, well-disciplined children are within reach. | Source

Teaching Children To Make Wise Choices

My second child is a follower. My husband and I have continually fretted over how we can teach him to think for himself. We feel that he needs to learn this skill now, not at age 15 when someone offers him a joint. We just weren’t sure how to do it.

Love and Logic strongly encourages letting our children make choices. I think, as a parent, I do tend to want to control everything. But how would we like it if someone was controlling every aspect of our lives? I would probably throw myself down on the floor and kick and scream too!.

By allowing our children to make choices, and learn from these choices, we teach them to think for themselves. It is important to not jump in and tell them which choice to make. If they make an unwise choice, they must learn from the natural consequence. For instance, if my daughter chooses to not wear her sandals to the park, then she will learn that running on the sawdust does not feel good on bare feet.

It is important to point out that these choices are not a way for a child to control us. They are a way for the child to have control over some aspects of their life. They are not saying a child gets to choose whether or not to wear their seat belt, or whether or not they have to take a nap. They emphasize that the majority of the decisions should be made by the child, so when it is time for the parent to make a choice, the child does not explode.


Do you agree with allowing your child to make as many choices as possible?

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They May Not Like It...

Your child will not immediately thank you for using these principles, but it will pay off in the end.
Your child will not immediately thank you for using these principles, but it will pay off in the end. | Source

The “Uh-Oh” Song

One method that was very effective for my 2-year old boy who wasn’t responding to our other methods of discipline was the “Uh-Oh” song. In our house, it went like this:

“Uh-oh, looks like someone needs some time in their bed.”

Then I would simply pick him up (he was usually screaming at this point), carry him into his room, and set him on his bed. I would tell him, “When you are ready to be nice again/not hit/not scream at Mom, etc., then you can come out.”

I was utterly shocked at how well this worked. He would sit on his bed until he was done screaming, and then would come out, nice as you please. I remember one time very clearly. There were other kids at my house that day and he came in screaming his head off at me. My instant reaction was anger, which I tried to dampen down. I tried to figure out why he was screaming, but he wouldn’t talk: just scream. So I picked him up, temper boiling, and put him on his bed. I could still hear him screaming but I felt relief that it hadn’t turned into a screaming match: me against him. When he was calm, he came out and told me what happened, which was an easily fixable problem. Whew! With my old methods, I probably would have made the situation worse. But by simply removing him until he calmed down, we were both ready to tackle the situation when he came out.

Counting To Three

323...324...I just don't understand why they don't listen!
323...324...I just don't understand why they don't listen! | Source

Ever Used The 1-2-3 Method?

Another aspect of the Love and Logic book that I found extremely interesting was the concept that we should NOT count to 3 before doling out consequences. This was quite shocking to hear, actually, as we had used this in our house numerous times, and actually was working quite well for us at that time. In fact, it still does work when I use it, but I believe that’s because my children have learned that 3 really means something.

The two parts that Love and Logic teach about counting to three are:

  • Most parents don’t follow through on the count of 3. Instead they keep giving them another chance. Such as, “Okay, now do it NOW! I’m SERIOUS! I’m going to count to 3 again! Okay 3 and ½…3 and ¾…”
  • Children will not always have three chances in life to do something. Many employers in today’s competitive marketplace will fire people after being late ONE TIME.

So the Love and Logic principles teach that you tell your child what is expected of them one time. When they do not do it, you quickly follow through with your consequence. Example:

“Alice, please pick up your toys.”

Alice does not pick up her toys.

“Okay, Alice, you must go to your room until supper.”

If Alice does not obey, calmly pick her up and carry her to her room.

I was completely shocked to hear a mother at a playground count to ten backwards to her child. I had never even heard of such a thing! I don’t know what the child was doing, but he was around 2 ½ to 3 years old, and she said his name, and then started counting, “10…9….8…7”. Did he listen at “1”? No. He didn’t appear to even hear his mom counting. This is an extreme example of the 1-2- 3 concept gone bad.

I’m Still Not An Expert

I admit that this is a book that needs re-reading because I forget some of the concepts and revert back to my old methods. I have learned that arguing and shouting only makes my kids more upset, and really gets us nowhere. Physical discipline does not seem to faze my son anyway, making it completely pointless and frustrating us both. I do admit we occasionally still use flicks or hair pulls (rarely a full spanking), but I am trying to learn better ways to deal with bad behaviors. I will not fault a parent who believes spanking works, nor will I fault one that is determined to never spank.

I cannot cover all of the principles of Love and Logic in this hub, but the concepts we are using in our household certainly seem to be working. What works for your kids?

Parenting With Love and Logic

Have you used Love and Logic in your home?

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    • Danny Cabaniss profile image

      Danny Cabaniss 

      4 years ago from Shawnee, Oklahoma

      I was introduced to Love and Logic in 2013, and I try to use it in my home and in my classroom. I love the way you told your story!

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett-Irwin 

      7 years ago from The Great Northwest

      John Watson, like many psychologists were great additions to that field of study- we learned a lot from them even if it was things that we shouldn't do. I am really into behavioral psychology but I think we should use that for good...not to control anyone. We can use it to break habits or phobias but not make our children into what we want.

      Children are very much born with their own personality- I can attest to that as a parent and I think discipline and other parenting options should be tailored to what works for each child.

      That being said, I know parents who say time-out isn't working so we began spanking and that isn't working, etc (like with your son). They need to find their child's "currency" and listen to their child. Espeically with small kids, some things are miscommunications. Also as parents, we set an example- we can't yell or cuss and expect our kids not to do and even punish them when they do (that's logic)! My daughter for example hates time-out because it does two things that are torture to her (not talking and being separated from us or people).

      Time-outs and spankings wont work for older kids. The older the child the more creative you have to get. I remember one thing I did to get creative even when my daughter was about 3. She wouldn't pick up her blocks before bed so I put them in bed with her- harmless but she quickly found out it wasn't comfortable so she put them away. Also if you follow through, counting to 3 works.

      Great hub and thanks for sharing! And thanks for linking! Yes kids should make choices- that's part of life. I plan on preparing my kids for the world and life.

    • Bethaleg profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Minnesota

      Thank you! I don't claim to be an expert, but wanted to share what has worked for us. We parents need to stick together and help each other whenever we can : )

    • profile image


      7 years ago from Fuck of HUBPAGES

      Nice hub.

      All parents must read this hub.

      Voted and sharing !


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