Friday, April 9, 2010

Love and Logic Parenting - Letting Your Kids FAIL

That title is a tough one, isn't it?  Just the thought of it makes me want to throw this book in the garbage.  But the wisdom in the idea of letting our kids fail is so deep, I just have to make myself embrace it and let the helicopter land for a bit.

As I continue to read Parenting with Love and Logic I am finding myself so much stronger in my confidence as a parent.  It really feels so good to have practical ideas and thoughts about parenting in my Mommy tool belt.  Here are a few thoughts about letting your kids fail that I read recently.

The basic idea here is that unless we allow our children to fail, we can not allow them to choose success.

Love and Logic helps kids raise their odds of becoming thinking individuals who choose success.  As parents, this means that we must allow for failures and help our kids make the most of them during their elementary school days, when the price tags are still reasonable.

We can hurt a little as we watch them learn life's lessons now, or we can hurt a lot as we watch them grow up to be individuals unable to care for themselves.

These are all points that I took straight from the book.  It's like gold, isn't it?  Here are my thoughts:

When I do not allow my children to fail, I am teaching them that no matter what happens, Mommy and Daddy will always fix your problems for you.  Whether it's a broken toy at 6 or a crashed car at 16, I want my kids to know that they can handle their problems and that Mom and Dad will always be there for them as support.  Does that make sense?  Let's see an example:

Chase breaks a toy due to, let's say, extreme boy behavior.  He comes to me crying, "I broke my toy!"  my response could be:

"Oh, that's just terrible! Here, let me see it, let me see if I can fix it. OH NO.  I can't fix, I'm so sorry!"
Chase falls into heaping mess on the floor, screaming.
"Oh, honey, don't cry!  Here, look, Mommy will ask Daddy to fix it, Mommy will keep trying, Mommy will buy you a new one, do you want a cookie to make you feel better? Please don't cry my sweet little gum drop sugar plum angel face baby boy."

OR

"I broke my toy!"
"Oh, no, how did that happen?"
"I was throwing it and it just broke!"
"Oh, that's too bad.  When I get too rough with my stuff, something bad usually happens too.  What are you going to do about it?"   (note: this is said with true empathy and love, NOT sarcasm)
"I don't know, YOU fix it!"
"I'd be happy to help you out with this problem when you speak to me nicely."
"Mommy, would you please help me fix it?"
"Sure, let me see here...oh, I'm so sorry, it doesn't look like it is something that I can fix."
Chase falls into heaping mess on the floor, screaming.
"I can see how upset you are about this.  When you are ready to calm down, let me know and you and I can work together to figure out a solution to your problem."
So when he becomes calm, we will talk about ways to get the toy fixed (ask daddy, use his saved money to buy a new one, chalk it up to a lesson learned and talk about not being too rough with our toys).

The consequence?  The broken toy.  If it was a toy he liked, that is a big enough consequence on it's own.  If it was not and he continues to show careless behavior with his toys, we may need to have this conversation:

"Mom, where are my toys?"
"Ohhhh, it's kind of a bummer..."
"What?!"
"Since you are having a hard time remembering to be gentle with your toys, I took them away for a couple of days, you know, to protect them.  I'm sure you'll find something else to do for now."

So the first example is maybe a bit exaggerated, but really not too far from some of our truths, is it?

The second example is me showing empathy and placing the problem back into Chase's hands.  I did not make it my problem. I did not rescue him.  I did not fix it for him.  Sure sometimes, we do need to step in, that's common sense.  But if we raise our kids with the idea in their heads, "If I screw this up, how am I going to fix it?" as opposed to "I'm not going to worry about the consequences, Mom and Dad will just take care of this later (like they always do).  For now, I'm just gonna have some fun!"  Well, it's easy to see how they will respond when the problem is:

"MOM, I just crashed my car."
"Oh, no, are you ok, what happened?"
"Yes, I'm fine.  I was driving too fast/being careless/changing the radio station/etc"
"I'm so glad you are ok.  Don't worry honey, I'm sure you know how to handle this.  Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help you."

I know, I know, easier said than done, and I don't have teenagers yet.  But I was a teenager once and I did watch my poor parents deal with two teenage boys, so I can really see where this mind set will work if started early enough with our kids.

Another thought... don't rush in to prevent mistakes.  Let them get the answer wrong on heir homework once in awhile.  How about instead of stressing yourself out about that report due in two days that your middle-schooler forgot about, you let them get a failing grade and as a result, can not play school sports until the grade is raised.  GASP, I know.  That's not a bad parent, that's a parent teaching their child responsibility.

So what do you think?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and we can all use some more ideas and advice!

2 comments:

  1. I think it's great! Hard to follow through on but great. What's hard for me is figuring out at what age to start this at. Robby - 4 I can see this working in some situations but Jack is 2. But I"m glad you are sharing this now while my kids are still young.

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