Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's All About Choices

If you're like me, then the one thing you do know about Love and Logic is that it's about choosing. You hear L&L parents saying things like, "Would you rather go to Susie's house, or stay home and play?" It's all about the choices.

At our class, they said, "Every rule you set, your child comes to NEED."

At first, I stumbled over that, not really understanding what they meant.

But then they said, "Set as many rules as necessary, and as few as possible."

Then I began to understand.

Your children should be free to make as many choices for themselves as possible. Letting them make choices, and consequently often fail, while the cost is low, or there's little real risk to the child, sets them up to be able to make good choices when the choices really count.

Whew, how's that for a run-on sentence?

It makes sense if you really think about it. If we are forever setting the rules and our kids willingly obey, what are we really teaching them? To always look to someone else to have the final say, to have a fall-guy, a scape-goat they can blame when their life doesn't go the way they want it to. Worse, not only will they not really have control over their lives, nor accept the blame for their poor turnout, they won't know how to fix it.

However, if they realize that life is full of choices, starting with the easy ones today like, "Would you rather do Math or Language Arts?" Or, "Do you want to do your work at the kitchen table, or at your desk?" they will be equipped to look for the choices in their life and be prepared to make the choice themselves, rather than looking to someone else to choose for them.

The keys to giving good choices to your kids, is to always provide two choices that you are extremely happy with. Two options that you would be thrilled for your kid to do. And don't give more than two choices, either.

My biggest problem in implementing this technique has been creativity. I've been coming up short on choices for them. But, I think with practice, many things will become second nature, at least that's how it sounded from the class.

They gave us some great choices we can provide for our kids regarding school:
  • Math or L.A.?
  • Odds or even? (I have to admit, I'm not sure what is meant here.)
  • Couch or chair?
  • 10 or 15 minute break?
  • Clean up now, or before lunch?
  • Pen or pencil?
  • This book, or that one?
You get the idea.

Another great line they gave us last week was "I love ya too much to nag ya." I LOVE that line! I've used it a ton this past week. So, after your kid has made his or her choice, leave them be. Let them fail, if they're going to fail, because you love them too much to nag them. Nagging is just more of that same old stuff that gives your kid an out. They know they don't have to think for themselves or plan their day, because mom will nag them when they're starting to run out of time, right? 

Just let them make their choices and then let them be. They'll thank you for it one day! And you'll be a lot less stressed now.

Last week I put all this into practice. I provided the boys the list of the required school work for the week and provided them with four hours of "wonderful learning time" as Deslynn put it, (love that!) and then, just did my own thing. 

It was awesome!!

They came to me with questions or for help, which I was happy to give, but otherwise, I let the stress or responsibility of their work just slip right off my shoulders. I got a lot of my own stuff done! I tell ya, it was like a holiday!

And when Saturday came and Charlie still hadn't completed all his work and had to miss out on some cherished friend time because of it, it wasn't me who caused the tears in his eyes. 

He said, "It's all my fault! I should have done my work sooner!" This from the child who is the consummate blamer. Everything bad in his life is someone else's fault and he's often angry at other people for his suffering. 

This week, rather than me nagging saying, "Come on guys! It's time for school already!" (with a big ol' arrrgghhh in my voice,) I'm just going about my business. I let them know I'm in my office now so if they have any questions, I'll be available to help them until such and such a time. Then . . . I let them be.

They are still making choices I don't exactly approve of, choosing to put off their work and so forth. But today, they buckled down and did a number of lessons largely on their own, and I've overheard them talking together about planning their week and how they can get their lessons done and still have time for the things they enjoy.

They're learning! And I'm happy! And relaxed!

Like I said, Love and Logic, is awesome!

If you haven't already done so, check out Deslynn's blog for even more tips on how to implement Love and Logic into your parenting and homeschooling. Also, Deslynn is awesome about helping out if you have questions too.