Parent Articles

    Are You Remembering the Empathy?

    If you’re familiar with the Love and Logic approach, then you’re familiar with the tremendous power of empathy and the critical role that it plays in successfully using Love and Logic with your kids. Empathy has become even more important over the past year as we all struggle to understand the many difficult events that have occurred in our lives.

    As a child I witnessed empathy transform our family. I watched as my mother and father began to understand the following important principles:

    Consequences provided with anger result in resentment.

    Consequences proceeded by empathy build
    personal responsibility.

    My parents’ journey from anger to empathy was not without occasional potholes, wrong turns, construction zones, and fender benders. It’s been the same for me as I continue to learn how to be an effective parent, husband, business manager, and consultant.

    The truth is that we all struggle with this skill in one way or another and we need reminders to help us on the journey from anger to empathy. Here are a few little reminders to keep ourselves headed in the right direction:

    Remember that it’s okay to delay consequences.

    When you’re too angry to think straight or to be empathetic, give yourself a gift by giving yourself some time to calm down, think, and get help from others

    Post your “empathetic statement” around the house.

    Memorize your empathetic statement by posting it all over the house on little “sticky notes.”

    Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself by setting and enforcing solid limits.

    Many parents have problems with getting angry because they haven’t set enough good, solid limits with their children. One of my favorite limits sounds like, “I do___________ for kids when they are treating me with respect.”

    Resist the urge to remind.

    It is very important to remember that the more warnings or reminders we give our kids, the more stressed and frustrated we will become. Take care of yourself, and your child, by replacing words with actions.

    ~Dr. Charles Fay

     To Protect or Not To Protect: That is the Question 

    Some people say, “Kids these days are wimps!” We hear it again and again in the news: “Too much coddling, too much hovering, and too much over-protecting have created a generation of young adults who aren’t mentally strong and who remain dependent upon their parents.”

    Before elaborating on some solutions to the helicopter-parent crisis, I’d like to applaud the many parents who are still raising kids with common sense, self-control, and grit. Kudos also to the wonderfully responsible young adults I meet every day. They are still out there!

    As helicoptering has reached a zenith, so too have vague notions about what we ought to do instead. Some authors suggest giving children free rein to run with scissors, roam dark streets at night, and wire 220-volt appliances unsupervised. A totally hands-off approach is their motto. Although we encourage parents to allow their kids to take risks, this must be done responsibly, and we never advocate allowing a child to be endangered in any way.

    Going to either of these extremes is not healthy. Instead, wise parents consider each specific situation and ask themselves the following questions:

    What are the real risks?

    Too frequently, we forget that we cannot eliminate all risk from our lives or our children’s lives. We can only ask ourselves, “Is this really a life-and-death issue?” If it is truly a life-and-death situation, parents must intervene.

    Am I removing the joy by trying to remove the risk?

    A life lived with no risk is a life not lived.

    Has my child been allowed to blow it when the “price tags” were small?

    If a child has a history of being over-protected, a parent may want to start by giving more freedom over smaller issues, instead of suddenly giving great freedom over much larger ones.

    Have I provided the training required for my child to handle this risk safely?

    For example, if I allow my children to use the lawnmower, have I shown them how to do so safely? Have we practiced using the mower together? Offering training helps our children experience the joy of conquering risks independently.

    What is my characteristic style of parenting?

    Great parents do their best to allow their children the freedom to make mistakes, experience the consequences, and solve the problems they encounter. Great parents also protect and rescue whenever it is necessary. How might you answer the following?

    Do I protect or rescue most of the time,
    or do I tend to err on the side of allowing
    my kids to experience life and learn from it?

    Allow your kids to take risks, learn from their mistakes, and benefit from their successes. This will help them grow up to be mentally strong adults who can fend for themselves.

    Dr. Charles Fay

    Parenting During Uncertain Times

    Are you finding yourself completely exhausted and stressed with all of the problems that bombard you on a daily basis, even though 2020 is finally over? I find myself still feeling crushed under the weight of the many burdens whirling around me. Why? Simply because I’ve forgotten how much fuel is required to run a helicopter on a daily basis.

    Yes! I tend to be a helicopter parent, a helicopter boss, a helicopter spouse, a helicopter whatever. It’s nobody’s fault except mine. Deep within me is the burning desire to make sure that no one I know suffers from any sort of unhappiness, disappointment, or disgust. There are just so many people in my life that need my help solving their problems!

    Listening to our audio, Helicopters, Drill Sergeants and Consultants, I am reminded that trying to rescue our kids from all of life’s challenges burns us out and creates kids who don’t believe that they have what it takes to be successful in life. I also realized that this very same principle applies to rescuing our spouses, friends, and colleagues. It doesn’t take long for us to run out of fuel and crash to the ground.

    The single most powerful tool for combating this tendency is to memorize the following words:

    Oh, no. That’s got to feel ___________.

    What do you think you are going to do about that?

    The next time someone else’s problem comes your way, experiment by saying those words with sincere empathy. Simply fill in the blank with whatever emotion you’re guessing the person is feeling, then give suggestions while allowing the person to own and solve his or her problem.

    To help make sure that your helicopter stays grounded, be sure to register for our free, live seminar next Tuesday, January 12, at 8 p.m. EST. It’s called, “Parenting During Uncertain Times,” and will provide many helpful insights for parenting in the age of COVID-19.

    Thanks for reading! Our goal is to help as many families as possible.

    Dr. Charles Fay


    Trusting Our First Thought to Say “No” 

    "I feel so inadequate as a parent” one mother lamented. My son begs to do things that I just don't feel good about. Sometimes I can't explain exactly why I feel uncomfortable about him doing them, but my first thought is to say “no.” When I try to explain my reasons, he keeps demanding an explanation. The other day he was begging to watch a movie online. I couldn't explain why I thought it wasn’t appropriate, but he just kept pestering and complaining. Finally, he got mad and yelled, ‘This is stupid! You always make up rules, but you don’t even have a reason for them.’”
    With much embarrassment she admitted, “I gave in. Then I hated myself for doing so.“
    Sometimes we as parents simply get a feeling about something. Much of the time this feeling is based on many years of experience and maturity. Rather than trying to provide a brilliant rationale, we might reply with empathy and honesty:

    I’m really not sure why I feel the way I do about this, but I’ve learned to trust these feelings. I will be happy to listen to your thoughts about this, as long as your voice sounds calm like mine.

    This won’t satisfy the average child, but it is honest and respectful, and will reduce the odds that we’ll wear out, give in, or erupt with anger.
    If they continue to argue or manipulate, we can calmly repeat this question:

    And… what did I say?

    I’ve often heard parents say, “I wish I would have trusted my gut. I wish I would have held firm.”
    It’s always wise to err on the side of caution. It’s also smart to model that skill for our kids.
    Dr. Charles Fay

    Guiding Kids to Own and Solve Their Problems

    Four Steps to Responsibility

    If children are going to survive and thrive in tomorrow’s complex world, they need practice solving as many problems as possible… today! The following process is designed to get kids thinking more about their problems than we do.

    Step 1: Provide a strong and sincere dose of empathy.

    Empathy allows the child to stay calm enough to solve the problem… and learn from it. Experiment with saying something like:

    Oh no. This is a problem. I bet that’s really upsetting.

    Step 2: Hand the problem back.

    After you have proven that you care, ask:

    What do you think you might do to solve this problem?

    Don’t be shocked if the child mumbles, “I don’t know.”

    Step 3: Ask permission to share what “some kids” have tried.

    Avoid giving suggestions until you have asked:

    Would you like to hear what some other kids have tried?

    Step 4: Provide two or three alternatives for solving the problem.

    Remember to avoid resistance by saying:

    Some kids decide to _______________________________________.

    How would that work for you?

    Step 5: Allow the child to solve or not to solve the problem.

    Resist the urge to tell the child which alternative to pick.

    End the session by showing your faith in the child:

    Good luck! Let me know how this turns out.

    Learn more about this technique in the audio, Four Steps to Responsibility

    Thanks for reading!

    Dr. Charles Fay


    Am I Selfish for Taking Care of Myself?

    Love & Logic Blog, Dec 19, 2019

    First, I want to give a very complex answer to this question: 


    No, it’s not selfish to take good care of yourself. It’s smart.

    But since they expect me to make this blog post longer than a couple sentences, allow me to elaborate.

    First, maybe we should decide what we (the Love and Logic Institute) really mean when we say ‘take good care of yourself’.

    We don’t mean ignore your kids’ needs while you indulge yourself in nonstop spa vacations. We mean things like setting firm limits and NOT taking on problems unnecessarily.

    Of course, we end up helping our kids and solving (or co-solving) some problems. But Love and Logic adults hand small, affordable problems back to kids and TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES by refusing to own problems they don’t need to own. These problems might include kids’ school projects, minor peer or sibling conflicts or feeling bored.

    Some of the most stressed-out adults I know remain so stressed out because they don’t set good limits. Instead of setting a good limit up front (such as ‘I allow use of the car when it is returned with gas in it’), they expend a lot of energy on the back end reacting and lecturing. Ex: ‘Why didn’t you fill the car back up?!’

    The practice of setting better limits up front allows us to take better care of ourselves.

    If you are an educator or other professional, taking care of yourself might mean leaving some problems at work. Or leaving some work at work. It certainly will entail handing smaller problems back so that kids get practice solving them (while you get to keep some of your sanity).

    As always, we all get to use judgment and common sense. And we (The Love and Logic Institute) are never going to suggest neglecting real needs or refusing to help out of spite or when kids really need it.

    We will continue to make the case that handing back problems (in loving ways) IS taking care of yourself. And it’s good for the kids too! We will continue to make the case that setting better limits around what you will provide, expect or allow (think boundaries) IS taking good care of yourself - while modeling healthy limit-setting for those kids who are watching you.

    That settles it. Taking care of yourself is a win-win. You don’t need to feel guilty about it. In the end, taking good care of yourself will help you take better care of the ones you love.

     Thank you for reading and sharing!

    Jedd Hafer


    The Best Advice for Helping Kids with Special Needs

    Love & Logic Blog, Jan 10, 2020

    “Err on the side of believing they are capable.”

    Those words changed my life. I sat in Dr. Charles Fay’s office and told him stories of the extreme challenges presented by the adoption of my son and daughter. They were about six years old at the time. We had adopted them from the foster care system when they were three. My twins were both diagnosed early with ADHD, RAD and learning disabilities. Both had vision and other health issues and my son had hearing and speech problems. They acted out in many ways common to kids who have experienced neglect and disruption.

    We talked about lying and hoarding food. We talked about problems they were already having with school and with caregivers. I felt pretty discouraged because I had worked with kids in trouble for years and I always seemed to know what to do. But in this case… I was out of ideas and low on hope.

    Then, he said those words: Err on the side of believing they are capable.

    He told me to believe they could do things for themselves. Not things that would put them in danger, but common tasks I might be tempted to perform for them. In daily interactions, I could intentionally send valuable ‘you are capable’ messages by simply believing and behaving as if they could do things without me taking over.

    We could practice skills and they could improve and become more capable and responsible. This piece of advice my friend gave me that day has served not just me, but my kids and the rest of our family so very well.

    As school begins this year, I now have 15-year old high school freshman (those same twins) in my house. Many of my friends with teenagers fight every morning with their kids to drag them out of bed and then nag them through the morning all the way out the door.

    I can proudly say that my twins have been consistently getting themselves up and completely ready for school without me waking, reminding or nagging them. This has been the case since they were age seven. That is a miracle – thanks to Love and Logic. As I watch my twins blossom into more responsible, mature, CAPABLE young people, I am more and more grateful for that wonderful wisdom I received nearly 10 years ago!

    And, because I believe it with all my heart, I pass it on to you. Parents or teachers of kids with special needs:

     Err on the side of believing they are capable. As long as you can safely do so.

    Has it always gone smoothly? No way. Have my kids been some of the smallest on teams? Yep. Have they been kids who had to work hard to keep up? You bet. Have I had to see disappointed faces when I had to tell them they weren’t quite ready for something? Of course.

    But I would not have it any other way. And I believe I worry about them a lot less than if I had ignored the advice and gone the other way – sending messages that they are victims or are incapable.

    I’m thankful every day that I get to see the wonderful results and that I get to share them with you!

    Thanks for reading and sharing! And please check out our latest audio Empowering Kids with Special Needs.

    Jedd Hafer


    What to do when your child dislikes his or her teacher

    © 2002 By Dr. Charles Fay


    As a parent and an educator, there aren’t too many things more distressing than hearing a child say, “I can’t go to school. My teacher is so mean!”  We don’t want to see our children in pain, especially when it’s caused by someone we need to trust for their emotional and mental well-being on a daily basis.


    So, what can you say or do when your child comes home from school and complains

    about his or her teacher?


    The most important thing to remember is the vast majority of teachers are caring, dedicated, and well trained. Each has his or her own style, and kids need to learn how

    to adapt. Just as kids benefit from teachers who are very warm and patient, they also can

    learn from some who are more business-like and demanding. Kids can even gain valuable

    life lessons from a caring teacher who is a bit cranky and cantankerous.


    If your child is having trouble adjusting to his or her teacher, here are some easy-to-learn Love and Logic tips to effectively deal with the situation:


    Tip 1: Listen and empathize if your child complains about a teacher.

    When a child says something like, “My teacher is mean. I hate her,” what he or she needs most is a loving ear, not lectures, threats, or someone to “fix” the problem.  Wise parents respond by asking, “You really don’t like her? That must be tough. If any kid is smart enough to find a way to get along with her, it would be you. ” Be sure to let the child know how much you love him or her, and be willing to listen to any concerns.


    Tip 2: Resist the urge to talk badly about your child’s teacher or school.

    Regardless of how much we might disagree with our child’s teacher or school, it is

    imperative to send our kids the following message: “Teachers are to be respected and

    listened to. You may not always agree with what they say or do, but it is NEVER acceptable for you to be disrespectful or disobedient toward them.”  Parents who make the mistake of saying negative comments about teachers in front of their children are setting their kids up for academic failure. When parents encourage children to learn how to positively deal with difficult teachers and stressful situations, their kids learn how to overcome challenges and solve their own problems. In other words, we rob our kids of an important learning opportunity if we allow them to blame teachers for their problems.


    Tip 3: Help your child understand that having a tough teacher is a good thing.

    Smart parents ask their kids, “Why is it good that you have a tough teacher this year?”

    When their children shrug their shoulders and answer, “I don’t know,” these parents respond by saying, “You’re going to have a chance to learn you can be successful with even the most difficult people. That’s one of the most useful skills in life!”


    Tip 4: Remember: By teaching children to get along with a demanding teacher, we

    also are teaching them how to succeed with a demanding boss.

    Research has shown employees get along with even the most demanding bosses

    when they:

    • Get to work just a bit early every day


    • Show up with a smile and a positive attitude


    • Listen and follow directions


    • Work a bit harder than expected


    • Get along well with other employees and customers


    Kids who learn these skills at home and at school succeed with the most difficult teachers, get better grades, and eventually rise to the top of their chosen occupation.


    Tip 5: Get involved only as a last resort.

    Wise parents intervene on behalf of their children only when it is clear the teacher is so

    incompetent or negative that even the best behaved and most responsible student would

    find it impossible to adapt. Fortunately, these types of educators are rare.  When we follow these tips, we give our kids the gift of knowing they can succeed around all different types of people. Unfortunately, some parents steal this wonderful opportunity by trying to make sure their children’s teachers are “perfect.” Sadly, as adults, many of these children spend their lives being unhappy because other people are “mean” or “unfair.” Don’t fall into this trap! Use these Love and Logic tips, and give your kids the responsibility and self-confidence they deserve.


    # # #

    Dr. Charles Fay is a nationally known speaker, parent, and school psychologist with the Love and Logic Institute in Golden, Colo. His book, Love and Logic Magic: When Kids Leave You Speechless, provides a host of helpful tips for teaching values, as well as handling other perplexing parenting issues. For more information about Love and Logic parenting and

    teaching techniques, call 1-800-LUV-LOGIC or visit www.loveandlogic.com

Last Modified on May 4, 2021