love and logic (3)

Empathy with Consequences


Prepared by Dr. Bert Alexander

Translation and Prezi by Henry Roncancio

Prezi Presentation: Clic here

What would you do in the following situation? Suppose you have a child or children who simply refuse to go to bed at a reasonable time. You fuss and you threaten, but the more you push, the slower they seem to be about getting ready and going to bed. You know that they need sleep; you know that if they do not get adequate sleep, they will not function well the next day. Yet, even with all your fretting and worrying, your spanking, your taking away of privileges, they do not seem motivated to comply with your wishes. 

Here is a great truth, so get ready to be amazed: you cannot make a child go to sleep. What if you simply told you child that you are sorry for all the interference and in the future they will be in charge of when they go to bed. Establish that there are rules, and the first is that after say eight o’clock, they cannot bother you and your spouse. You don’t won’t to see them or hear them, but they can be awake in their room. The second is that everyone gets up at the appointed time and there will be no exceptions. If they are still up at 10:30, tell them “good-night” and go to bed yourself. 

The next morning, go in and wake them up. You will discover that it is easier to wake up a child than put them to sleep! Turning up the radio to front-row-rock-concert setting takes no effort at all! Flip on the lights and be a “human alarm clock!” You will more than likely hear your child telling you that they are sick; their head/stomach/etc. hurts. Ignore it! Tell your kids, “You know, I feel this way as well when I don’t get enough rest, but I bet that it is going to be a long day at school today. Have a good day, and we will see you when you get home.” You see, it is much better for the child to deal with the consequences of their actions than for you to punish them or to threaten them. 

Hurting From the Inside Out

It has been said that “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” With that in mind, we need to remember that as we give control to our kids, that control can corrupt and that absolute control corrupts absolutely. As children misuse their power and control, unwise parents show frustration, anger, and often plead. Wise parents allow natural and imposed consequences to do the teaching, and they are empathetic. Control and power are handled like money: we rejoice when the child handles them correctly, and we show empathy without rescue when unwise choices result in consternation, pain, and regret. 

As adults we don’t get grounded when we mess up in life; nobody washes our mouths out with soap when we use bad language. Punishments don’t happen in the real world unless crimes are committed. When people are punished for something, they seldom pause for self-examination; generally, resentment is the more common reaction. The same holds for kids as well. When we send kids to bed early because they sassed us, we are doling out punishment. If they bring home bad grades and we rescind television privileges, we are not allowing the consequences of mistakes to do the teaching. 

The real world operates on consequences. [When was the last time you talked a cop out of a ticket for speeding?] If we do a consistently lousy job at work, the boss doesn’t take away our I-phone, he fires us! Punishing a child offers a great escape valve for a child to escape the consequences of his actions. They don’t have to change their behavior; they simply have to do their time with the punishment. Their anger is directed toward us rather than themselves for making a bad decision. We want our children to hurt from the inside out:

  • We allow the consequences to do the teaching. 
  • Consequences leave kids thinking very hard about their behavior and their responsibilities. 
  • Consequences lead to self-examination and thought. 

Naturally Occurring Consequences

The best consequences are those that fall naturally. Naturally falling consequences allow the cause and effect of our children’s actions to register in their brains. When they ask themselves, “Who is making me hurt like this?” Their only answer is “Me.” For example, if a child goofs off during a meal and doesn’t eat, they will be hungry later. If a child goofs off in school, makes bad grades, then staying back a grade makes sense. 

These are the things that cause lots of heartburn for parents, but if we want the consequences to do their work effectively, we cannot afford to take the luxury of reminding a child of previous bad choices. If your child is extremely slow at getting out of bed, let them suffer the consequences of not going to school one day. Now this cannot be a fun day, the child must stay in his room, and cannot be entertained by any electronics, games, etc. You as a parent cannot write a note for his absence as it was his fault and he must suffer the consequences. Without the company of others and without the attention of a parent who nags them, they become very unhappy!

Imposing Consequences

While naturally occurring consequences are best, occasionally our children’s actions don’t lend themselves to such consequences. In those cases, we must impose the consequences ourselves. This is a parental art: parents sometimes choose to impose consequences that are irrelevant or, if relevant, the consequences are either too harsh or too lenient. When consequences occur naturally, the imposed consequences must:

  • Be enforceable
  • Fit the “crime”
  • Be laid down firmly in love. 

When imposed consequences are imposed without anger and threats, and when presented to our children in a way that the connection between their misbehavior and the consequences is made plain, they are quite effective. To drive the lesson home with our children without making them feel as though we are not on their side, we must use empathy. Here are some examples:

  • “Of course you are hungry! I bet you won’t do that again!” Try, “I know now that feels, I get hungry when I miss a meal, but we will have a big breakfast tomorrow.”
  • “I told you that you would be tired if you didn’t go to bed on time. Now you are going to suffer all day at school.” Try, “I feel the same way at work when I don’t get my sleep, but have the best day you can, under the circumstances.”
  • “You don’t do your homework, and now you come home with lousy grades. That ought to teach you a lesson.” Try, “You know, when I was in school, I got some poor grades when I didn’t apply myself, but there is always next semester or summer school.” 

Consequences Don’t Have to Be Immediate

Consequences do not have to be doled out on the spot to be effective. Sometimes, they are most effective after a child thinks they have gotten away with inappropriate behavior. Suppose your small children bicker and fight on the way to the store and instead of confronting them, you wait until the next time and say something like: “You know the way you acted the last time we went out, well, this time you are staying home and you can pay for your sitter by weekend, or I can deduct the cost from your allowance, your choice.” They are now thinking, “How are we going to pay for this? How are we going to get Mom to take us with her the next time? How am I going to get along with my sibling?” This imposed consequence is enforceable. If you child returns home late from a play-date, the next time simply say, “Remember when you were late the last time? I am not up to worrying about that today, so you can watch television or play by yourself. We will talk about it again the next time you want to go over there.” The consequence is tied in the child’s mind to returning on time from the neighbor’s house. 

Good consequences don’t always pop right into our brains! This is another reason why delaying consequences is often the best thing to do. It allows us time to consider the best actions as well as get ideas from others. If nothing comes to mind immediately, it is much better to take our time and think of an appropriate consequence than to blurt something out in haste or anger. Much-needed time for thinking can be bought with the following words:

  • “I am not sure what to do about this right now, but I will let you know.”
  • “You know, I have never been the parent of a _____-year old_____ before, so I’ll have to give this some thought, and get back to you on it.”
  • “I’m not sure how to react to that. I’ll have to give it some thought.” 
  • “Try not to worry about it.”

Giving yourself time to consider consequences helps our kids too. They have time to agonize over the possible consequences, and that is quality thinking time!

It’s the Empathy That Counts

The thing that drives the lesson into our children’s hearts after they make a mistake is our empathy and sadness. Our love for them reigns supreme and we put the relationship between us and our children foremost in our minds. When our children make a mistake, we really ache for them, we know what it is like, and we tell them this in all seriousness. When our kids blow it and suffer consequences, it is crucial that we express our sadness to them. Use some of the following phrases:

  • “I know you, and I am sure you will come up with something.”
  • “That’s terrible, how are you going to handle it?”
  • “Oh, no, I’m glad that is not my________. You must feel awful, what can you do?”
  • “How’s that working out for you?”
  • “Wow, what a mess! Let me know what you come up with?”

By using this sort of language, we do not put ourselves up against our kids, but rather squarely on their side. They need to know we will be with them through it all but that we will not take away any of their responsibility in the process. Remember, when you run out of things to say, transfer the problem to the youngster by asking a question, such as “What are you going to do?”

Allowing consequences while showing empathy is one of the toughest parts of Love and Logic parenting. Anger is such an appealing emotion, especially when we use it on our children. Punishment makes us feel powerful: makes us think we are in control. Anger and punishment, put in concert with each other, provide a deadly duo of counter-productive parenting. 

We are constantly giving messages to our kids, but the overriding message of all must be one telling them they are okay. They may have a hard time, make a mistake and have to live with the consequences, but we are in their corner and love them just the same. Empathy about the consequences shows our kids that kind of love. It allows the logic of the consequences to do the teaching. 

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Setting Limits Through Thinking Words

Prepared by Dr. Bert Alexander

Translation and Prezi by Henry Roncancio

Prezi Presentation: Prezi

Questionnaire: Questions.pdf

Love and Logic parenting is a law-and-order philosophy. Just because we recommend that parents shy away from issuing orders and imposing their solutions on their kid’s problems does not mean we give license to all sorts of misbehavior. The process is to allow our kids to mess up, and not drive home the lesson of their misdeeds with words. Be slow to lecture, and never tell the child what he has just learned. Instead, give guidance, but allow them to think for themselves. Making enforceable statements and giving choices forces that thinking back on them.

Building Walls That Don’t Crumble

How do we set limits on their behavior without telling them what to do? Limits are crucial to what we are trying to do and our kids need the security of boundaries in order to make those decisions. 

From the time our kids are infants, we set limits for them, limits that put boundaries around their behavior. Some parents build walls in the form of firm limits for their children; others leave their kids to feel insecure and afraid by providing few limits, or limits that crumble easily. 

Kids seem most secure around parents who are strong, who don’t allow the limits they place on their kids to crumble. Conversely, children lose respect for adults who cannot set limits and make them stick. Quite simply put, kids who misbehave without having to face the consequences become brats. Children who have limits placedced on them in loving ways become secure enough to not only deal effectively with their own emotions but form satisfying relationships with others as well. These relationships allow children to develop self-confidence. These children are easier to teach, spend less time misbehaving, and they grow up to be responsible adults. Lack of firm limits lead to low self-esteem and the behavior follows accordingly. 

How to Talk to a Child

For many parents, setting limits means issuing commands and backing up those limits with more commands spiced with sternness and anger. They think that every time they say something to their kids, they are setting limits, and the louder their voice gets and the more often they repeat it, the firmer the limits become. This may have immediate results, but the long-term prognosis is not very good. 

Love and Logic parents insist on respect and obedience, just as command-oriented parents do. But when Love and Logic parents talk to their children, they take a different approach. Instead of the fighting words of command-oriented parents, they use thinking words. Thinking words, used in question form and expressed in enforceable statements, are one of the keys to parenting with Love and Logic parents. They place the responsibility for thinking and decision making on the children. 

What is the difference between “fighting words” and “thinking words”? The former is an order and the second is a contemplative statement. “Fighting words” are the ones in which we challenge our kids and offer a negative consequence for them not following through with a positive response. E.g., “Don’t you talk to me in that tone of voice!” “Thinking words” are ways to think of enforceable statements that make kids think for themselves. For example, “You sound upset. I’ll be glad to listen when your voice is as soft as mine is.” 

Children learn better from what they tell themselves than from what we tell them. Kids are more prone to believe something that comes from inside their own heads: they choose an option, they do the thinking, they make the choice, and the lesson sticks. 

Would you rather carry your coat or wear it?

Would you rather put on your boots now or in the car?

Would you rather play nicely in front of the television or be noisy outside?

Kids fight against commands and the difference between the thinking words and fighting words are subtle. More control by the parent is perceived as less control by the child. They exert themselves to regain the control they see slipping away. 

The Threat Cycle

The temptation to use threats is great because we desperately want to assail our kids with commands and threats to limit their behavior. Simply put, using threats doesn’t make us feel like the wimp we feel like if we whimper, cry, beg, or plead with our kids, and threats sometimes work. 

Some kids respond to threats, and others do not. They may do as they are told, but they are angry with the person who gave the order. Or they may perform the task in a way that is unsatisfactory simply to regain some of the control they had taken from them. Either way, they are breaking the limit we are trying to set. Our goal is to use thinking words and enforceable statements. 

Passive-Aggressive Behavior

When children are commanded to do something they don’t like, they often respond with passive-aggressive behavior. Kids know they must comply with the order or else reap punishment. They channel their anger in a way that will hurt their parents, so subtly that the parents don’t know they are being hurt. They will make it sting sharply enough so that those parents will think twice before giving that order again. 

The book uses the example of the girl who was responsible for doing the dishes, but she would procrastinate until it was too late at night and was in a rush the next morning. When mom gave the ultimatum, the daughter did the dishes, but broke a glass “accidentally” in order to get back at mom. The daughter’s subtle message was “You better think twice before you force me to do the dishes again.”

Passive-Resistive Behavior

When kids react to parental demands with passive-resistive behavior, they resist without telling the parent they are resisting. The resistance is in their actions, not their words. For example, when a parent tells a child to do something, the child responds by claiming he forgot the request or with less than instantaneous obedience. The attitude is “I’ll comply, but I’ll do it on my own terms.” A sure sign of passive-resistant behavior in children is parental frustration. Parents may be frustrated without having passive-resistant children, but all passive-resistant children have frustrated parents. 

We Would Rather Think Than Fight

Fighting words invite disobedience; they actually challenge the child to be disobedient. When they are used, we are drawing a line in the sand and daring the kids to cross it, and they will fight the limits we impose by using the fighting words. Fighting words include three types of commands:

Telling the kids what to do, “You get to work on the lawn right now.”

Telling our kids what we will not allow, “You are not going to talk to me that way!”

Telling our kids what we won’t do for them, “I’m not letting you out of this house until you clean your room.” 

When we issue commands we are calling our kids to battle and in many cases these are battles we cannot win. Why not simply steer away from words that cannot be challenged or fought? Limits can be set much more effectively when we are not fighting with our kids. It has been clinically proven that kids who are thinking cannot fight us at the same time. 

Love and logic parents make statements with enforceable thinking words, telling their kids:

What we will allow: “Feel free to join us for your next meal as soon as the lawn is mowed.”

What we will do: “I’ll be glad to read you a story as soon as you have finished your bath.”

What we will provide: “You may eat what is served, or you may wait and see if the next meal appeals to you more.” 

The word “no” is the biggest fighting word in the parental arsenal of commands. For two-year olds, parents us the word “No” over three-fourths of the time. Children tire of hearing it. The rule of “no” is to use it as little as possible, but when we do use, we mean business. At other times use a “yes” to something else. For example, “Yes, you may watch television as soon as your chores are done.” 

By using thinking words, we are able to set limits on our children’s behavior without telling them what to do. For example, if we want the lawn mowed before the next meal, we set that limit by offering them the choice: of mowing the lawn and eating, or not doing the lawn and not eating.  In the real world, we get our job done, get paid and then we eat. When we give our children the right to make decisions, there is no anger for them to rebel against. Nobody is doing their thinking for them and the limit is established. 

“Yes” is always more fun to say than “no” if we are healthy and do not get a kick out of controlling others. Loving parents who encourage responsibility early are less likely to get into these hassles:

“Can I have _______?” 

“Honey, if anyone deserves that________, it is you. Buy it!”

“I don’t have the money.”

Sorry about that. It is like that a lot for me too. I guess then you will not buy it.”

Mean What You Say, and Say What You Mean

Just as quickly as kids learn the limits, they will test them. They actually need to test them to make sure that the limits are firm enough to provide the needed security. They need to find out if we mean what we say and if we are going to stand firm on our word or not. 

Some will test the limits with anger or guilt, some are sneaky, and others will fake forgetfulness as a means of testing parental resolve. They will pout, complain, stomp around, run to their rooms, whine, or talk back. Using guilt is one of their most effective tools. 

The kids will not like the Love and Logic methods; they would prefer the old ways and will revert to them at every opportunity. The limit is the choice of the child: of course, they are hungry if they chose to put off the next meal because they did not mow the lawn. The hunger is a natural consequence to their action. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. 

If we relent, we demolish the meaning of those consequences. We set up a crumbling limit for our children. If we get angry at them for the choice they made or if we rail into them with an “I told you so”, we also present a crumbling limit. They then have ample reason to direct their anger toward their parents instead of themselves. 

Using enforceable thinking words, giving choices, displaying no anger, these are the ingredients for establishing firm limits with our kids.


  • How have you uses principles of love and logic in your parenting this past week? Are you giving them choices that are positive or are you simply forcing them to do your will?
  • How do you set limits on their behavior without simply “telling” them what to do? 
  • Limits are good for children. Psychologists have found that a child will play more confident and freely in a playground that has a fence than one that is open. How do you tell your child to not run out into the street? How do you tell your children not to waste food? How do you tell your children to clean up their room?
  • When we don’t provide firm limits, our kids suffer from low self-esteem. 
  • The excusing of irresponsible and destructive behavior because children have somehow been wronged can be carried to ridiculous extremes. Love and Logic parents use opportunities to build self-esteem in children who have had to cope with difficulties. Phrases like, “If anyone can cope with this tough situation, I bet you can do so,” tells the child that you have confidence in their resilience. 

Fighting words and thinking words: 

  • Child says something loud and unkind to the parents.
    • F/W—“Don’t you talk to me in that tone of voice!”
    • T/W—“You sound upset. I’ll be glad to listen when your voice is as soft as mine is.”
  • Two kids are fighting.
    • F/W-- “Be nice to each other. Quit fighting.”
    • T/W---“You guys are welcome to come back as soon as you work that out.”
  • Child will not pick and clean up his room.
    • F/W—“Get in there and clean up your room or else!
    • T/W---“______________________________________”
  • Child is wasting time at fast-food restaurant.
    • F/W—“Hurry up and finish your Happy Meal!”
    • T/W—“____________________________”
  • Child always forgets his coat.
    • F/W—“Put your coat on else!”
    • T/W ==“Would you rather carry your coat or wear it”
  • Child needs to mow the yard and is putting it off.
    • F/W—“You get to work on that yard, right now!”
    • T/W---“Feel free to join us for your next meal as soon as the lawn is mowed.”
  • Child wants to go out to play.
    • F/W—“No, you can’t go out to play until you practice your lessons.”
    • T/W---“Yes, you may go out to play as soon as you practice your lessons. 
  • Child wants to watch television instead of doing chores.
    • F/W---“No, you can’t watch television until your chores are done.” 
    • T/W---“Yes, you can watch television as soon as your chores are done.”


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Prepared by Dr. Bert Alexander

Translation and Prezi by Henry Roncancio

Prezi Presentation: Click Here

Poll: Click here

There are two types of children in this world. One wakes up and looks in the mirror and says, “Hey look at that dude. I like that guy, and I bet other people will like him too.” The other wakes up and looks in the mirror and says, “Oh, no, look at that loser, I don’t like what I see and I bet others will not like him as well.”

Children with poor self-concept often:

  • Forget to do their homework
  • Bully other kids
  • Argue with teachers and parents
  • Steal
  • Withdraw into themselves when things get rocky
  • Are irresponsible in making good decisions.

Children with good self-concept often:

  • Have lots of friends
  • Do their chores regularly and on time
  • Don’t get into much trouble in school
  • Take responsibility for the course of their lives. 

THERE IS A DIRECT CORRELATION BETWEEN SELF-CONCEPT AND PERFORMANCE IN SCHOOL, AT HOME, OR ON THE PLAYGROUND. We want to offer our children a chance to develop a positive self-concept: with love enough to allow the child to fail; with love enough to allow the consequences of their actions to teach them responsibility, and with love enough to help them celebrate the triumphs, our kid’s self-concept will grow each time they survive on their own. 

“I am what I think you think I am.”

Many parents don’t give their children a chance to build a positive self-concept because they concentrate on the child’s weaknesses. The conversation is about how the child is doing poorly or what the child cannot do at all. The parent rides the child constantly about these issues and erodes their self-concept. Parents who concentrate on child’s strengths find them growing in responsibility regularly. Instead of the child becoming what they could be or even think they could be, they become what they think we think they are. In our words and through our actions, in how we encourage and how we model, the messages we give our kids shape the way they feel about themselves. When we say something like, “if I have told you once, I have told you a thousand times…” we are giving the message, “you are pretty dumb.” 

Try to never use the phrase, “What are you doing that for?” It packs a double meaning: the first is simply a question, and the second can be misunderstood as “You are not very competent.” When we say, “If I have told you once, I have told you a thousand times,” the implication is, “You are pretty dumb, and your neurons work sluggishly.”

When we give our children orders, like “Shut-up!” or “Stop arguing!” we send out messages that slash self-concept, because these messages say:

  • “You don’t take suggestions.”
  • “You can’t figure out the answer for yourself.”
  • “You have to be told what to do by a voice outside your head.”

Kids say to themselves, I don’t become what you think I can, and I don’t become what I think I can. I become what I think you think I can!

The Three-Legged Table of Self-Concept

Our children’s self-concept could be compared to a three-legged table. If any one of the legs is weak, the table will rock or wobble. This table is build through the implied messages we give which either build up or tear them down. 

Leg One: I am loved by the “Magical People” in my life.

We all want to be loved unconditionally. Genuine love must be shown regardless of accomplishments, but not necessarily actions. Some parents actually withhold their love as a way of motivating or manipulating their children. Other times, parents have so much zeal that they give the unintended message that real love has to wait until the child improves. The interaction between parents and children is far more important than the kid’s successes or failures. Kids cannot get better until we prove to them, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are good enough the way they are. 

Leg Two: I have the Skills I Need to Make It.

Parents must send messages that tell their children they have the skills people their age need to be successful.  Children need to know that they possess the traits and abilities they need to succeed. These skills are learned through good parent modeling. Parents who focus on end results rather than on the learning taking place wind up with kids who have a negative self-concept about their skills. 

Leg Three: I Am Capable of Taking Control of My Life

Children who have that little voice in their heads telling them they are capable are much more successful. Although kids are born with great courage to take control of their own lives and make decisions, they have little experience on which to base their decisions, they have little experience on which to base their decisions, so they often make poor choices. 

What is the difference between praise and encouragement?

Every parent wants their child to develop a positive self-image, and every parent knows that a positive self-image is related to feeling good about accomplishments. However, false praise almost always leads to disrespect. Ironically, when children have a poor self-image, praise almost always causes the child to act out. Praise is not bad, but it tends to emphasize the external evaluation, the joy of another, and has no real thinking is encouraged. 

Children will get more out of making a decision for themselves, even if it is the wrong decision, than they will out of parents making the decision for them. Kids get the most out of what they accomplish for themselves. If we never let our kids struggle to get something they want or work through a problem for themselves, then when things get difficult later in life, they won’t suddenly turn tough and get going; instead, they will gust quit. We learn more through struggling through difficult things than when those things are done for us. The pattern for building self-esteem and self-confidence looks something like this in almost every case:

  • Kids take a risk and try to do something they think they cannot do.
  • They struggle in the process of trying to do it.
  • After a time, they accomplish what they first set out to do. 
  • They get the opportunity to reflect back on their accomplishment and can say, “Look at what I did!”

By allowing our kids work their way through age-appropriate tough times when they are younger, we are preparing them to effectively face truly tough times down the road. 

If We are Happy, They are Happy!

Do you realize that children learn nearly every interpersonal activity by modeling? We are their primary models as parents! The way we handle fights, frustration, solving problems, getting along with other people, language, posture; everything is learned by watching the big people in their lives. The key to parental modeling is to always model responsible, healthy adult behavior by taking good care of myself, personally. We want to feel good, we want our children to feel good, and so we model taking care of ourselves in a nice, healthy way. 

We still do things for our children, but it is a two-way street. We join in their activities because we want to be with them, we want them to excel in something for which they have a passion and this reflects back on us in a positive way. When it is a one-way street, we do for them, but the child feels no need to repay the parent or make the trips pleasant for the parent. The child takes and the parent gives. A Love and Logic parent might say, “I know you want me to be involved in this particular activity, but my participation lately has not been beneficial for me personally, therefore I am going to pass this time.” This parent will raise respectful, thoughtful children who grow to take good care of themselves too.


  • Think back on the last week as you have dealt with your children. Have you bolstered a good self-concept in your child or a poor self-concept? Have you fussed at them for not doing their homework or encouraged them for doing it? 
  • Realizing that there is a direct correlation between self-concept and performance in school, at home and on the playground, what are you doing to help your child feel positive and capable? 
  • “I am what I think you think I am.” What image does your child have of you? Do you encourage or do you concentrate on weaknesses? If you ask them to do a task, do you praise their efforts or do you criticize their shortcomings? 
  • What messages are you sending your child that is shaping who he is and will become? 
  • Kids cannot get better until we prove to them, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are good enough the way they are. Do you ever give your child the feeling that you would love them more if they were smarter, more obedient, neater, etc.? They need to be loved by the “magical people” in their life who accept them as family and love them unconditionally. 
  • Do you instill in your children that they have the skills they need to make it in life? Parents who focus on end results rather than on the learning taking place wind up with kids who have a negative self-concept about their skills. Do you ever take something from your child and do it yourself because they did not do it correctly? 
  • Children who have never been given the opportunity to learn from trial and error grow up with the inability to make decisions on their own, and often make poor choices as adolescents and adults. 
  • What is the difference between “praise” and “encouragement?” Praise creates good feelings from the outside and encouragement builds good feelings from the inside. Praise makes statements; encouragement asks questions [“you did a great job,” versus “what do you think of your performance?]. Praise is judgmental, encouragement is nonjudgmental. Examples: Praise---“What a great job!” “You did so well!” “I bet you feel proud of yourself!” Encouragement--- “How do you think you did?” “Why is that?” “How did you figure that out?” “How do you think you will handle it next time?”
  • Remember that a child will get more out of making a decision for themselves, even if it is the wrong one, than they will out of parents making the decision for them. 
  • The pattern for building self-esteem and self-confidence looks something like this:
    • Kids take risk to try to do something they think they cannot do.
    • They struggle in the process of trying to do it.
    • They accomplish what they first set out to do, after a time.
    • They get the opportunity to reflect back on their accomplishment and can say, “Look at what I did!”
  • Allow your child to struggle through age-appropriate tough times when they are younger in order to prepare them to effectively face truly tough times when older. 
  • Since children learn almost every interpersonal activity by modeling, and we are their primary models, what are they observing? As an adult and parent, how do you handle fights, frustration, solving problems, getting along with others, language, posture, etc.?
  • What negative words or phrases have you heard your children use that came directly from you? Do you use profanity around your children? Do you use words like “stupid” in their presence, regardless of the context? Do they see you respecting people in authority? Do you belittle others who have an influence over your children, such as teachers, aides, day-care workers, etc.? 
  • During the next week, we want to encourage you to look for small things in your child’s life with which you might make them feel good. Instead of praising them for something, try encouraging them with comments like, “How does that make you feel?” or “How do you think you did on that project?”
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