Why Love and Logic has it Wrong... Again!

respect child
Children don’t often demonstrate respect because they either don’t know what it looks like or, as the Father of Individual Psychology, Alfred Adler taught us, their disrespectful behavior is their way of attempting to get unmet needs satisfied.  The secret to getting kids to treat their parents and others with respect is to first treat them with respect and to then help them find their place in the family or the classroom.  But the creators of the LOVE AND LOGIC parenting program would have you believe differently. 

All parenting programs are not created equal and in my opinion, many are misguided and offer parents and teachers bad information.  It is my belief that we should not just be demanding and manipulating our kids to be more cooperative, we should be raising children who WANT to cooperate and be engaged in the family or classroom because they feel encouraged to do so.

One of those programs that frequently offers misguided information and gimmicks is the Love and Logic program.  In much of their parent resources, they suggest that parents use techniques that lead to a child feeling shame, blame and guilt, three human motivators that are not only demeaning, but are incredibly discouraging.

notebook write notes
In a recent weekly email that went out to parents who subscribe to their newsletters, Dr. Foster Cline recommends that when your child won’t cooperate with you and you’re away from home, you should create a little drama for your child’s benefit by writing yourself an imaginary note in a small note pad while “muttering” to yourself out loud that your child will replenish the energy he stole from you by “paying” for what he did to you when you get him home.  Basically, he is prescribing that you threaten your child that something will happen when he gets home as a result of this noncompliance. 

Even though Cline says to state it as a fact and not a threat, what he offers a parent is old fashioned, autocratic punishment.  Since the child did not comply, he “will pay” for this act by having to work at hard labor when he does get home.  Compliance is the goal and not cooperation.  He also makes a point to remind the parent to be sure and bask in the rays of energy generated by your child “mopping the floor” when you get home.

discourage child frustration cooperation angry disappointed resistance
If we meet resistance from our child when we need them to cooperate, we can be more successful with them by first understanding why he won’t cooperate and there are two primary things that create that annoying resistance.  The first one is the relationship with your child.  Perhaps you've been demanding too much or snapping at your child and the resistance you’re seeing is your child replicating what you may have been doing.  

Another reason may be that the resistance is your child’s way of getting unmet needs satisfied.  For example, if he is pulling you into power struggles, it may be his way of telling you that he is feeling powerless as a member of the family and craves more value and importance at home.  What you see in the resistance to cooperate may be exactly what the child needs more of.  If you don’t give your child appropriate power on your terms, he will take it on his.

Using techniques that discourage a child, as Love and Logic suggests, is not a way of getting more positive cooperation.  A child needs more encouragement and a feeling of belonging and fitting into the family or classroom.  Get more effective tips at http://www.CooperativeKids.com.


  1. I like your style, Bill Corbett!

    Wendy @Kidlutions

  2. Thank you Wendy. I take parenting seriously and I have a non-nonsense approach to how we should be raising our kids. Thanks for reading and commenting. All the best!

  3. We have to model the behavior we want from our kids. Last night I overheard several variations of this comment from people handing out treats for Halloween about my son, "at least he said thank you."
    That comes from modeling courtesy at all times.

  4. So good to read your comment Stefan. We parents are living, breathing models for our kids to learn from. I use to volunteer for my city's sheriff's department years ago, counseling incarcerated fathers. I use to tell them that their little boys are going to grow up learning how to treat girls by the way they treat his mother. And their little girl is going to learn how to allow herself to be treated by others, by how they are treating her mother.

  5. We have been living Love and Logic for the past two years with our two sons, currently aged 11 and 5. I don't agree that Love and Logic is somehow demeaning to children. Of course, there may be some deeply seated reasons for a child misbehavior, which as parents, we need to address. There is nothing wrong with making the child "pay" for misbehavior. When as adults we "misbehave" at work or in public, we usually have to pay. No one is interested in finding out why we feel like we have to misbehave. And to be clear I think we have irresponsible kids (who become irresponsible) adults because we allow our children two much say and impose too little control when they are little. For children to develop self-control (which we all want, right?), at first we need to put external controls on the child's behavior and "offer" age-appropriate consequences for misbehavior. As for getting to the reasons of the child's misbehavior: if my child is consistently down and crying, yes, I need to figure out why. But if my child is throwing a tantrum when I need to buckle him up in a car seat, I am just going to kiss him, buckle him up and say one of Love and Logic one-liners, like "Nice try..."

  6. You communicate with them as a child so that they can then learn to understand what they want and how to compromise when they get older since they can't always have what you want. As an adult you have to pay for doing things that negatively interfere with someone else's life or you get fired for poor work conduct, but those are actual reasons. You don't get spankings as an adult for not doing what people say. Childhood punishment and adult consequences actually have very little in common when it comes to the reasons and freedom of choice.


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