How to Practice “Love and Logic” Parenting, Session 4 (a): Limits Create Happier Parents, Happier Kids and Happier Families


Limits for children can help to create a harmonious atmosphere both in and out of your home.  I really notice that my kids thrive on knowing the rules and knowing their limits.  When you know what to expect and know what your boundaries are, you feel more secure and happy.

love and logic parenting

The information presented here is from the Love and Logic ( “Early Childhood Parenting Made Fun!” class and workbook.  It in no way takes the place of the actual class, which I highly recommend, but just gives you some great pointers on how to “create happy families and responsible kids.”

From the Love and Logic Parenting Workbook:

In this session you will learn:

  • Why kids actually crave the same limits they seem to dislike
  • How to set these limits in ways that create cooperation rather than chaos
  • How to end battles over getting your kids ready to go in the morning
  • Many more tools for lowering your stress level

(Photo courtesy of

At our house, the more we beg and plead with our kids to hurry up when we are about to leave or to please eat their food so we can leave soon, the situation only gets worse and escalates.  This session is such a great reminder for me because the most successful parents quickly learn the following Love and Logic rule (one which I have obviously forgotten):

Never tell a resistant child what to do.  Describe what you will do or allow instead.

When we tell resistant kids what to do, it gives them a perfect opportunity to fight us… and to prove that we can’t follow through.  When we describe what we will do or allow, we have ultimate control over the situation.  We are setting limits by using our own behavior, rather than theirs, so we call the shots.  (Oh, this is so great to know!  Tell me more, tell me more)!

Child Yelling 2
(Photo courtesy of

Listed below are some examples of enforceable versus unenforceable statements:

Unenforceable Statements                               Enforceable Statements
(Power Struggles Waiting to Happen)        (Happier Parents and Happier Kids)

– Quit whining!                                       – I will listen when your words sound like mine.
– Pick up your toys.                                – I keep the toys I pick up.
– Eat that!  It’s going to get cold.              – Breakfast will be on the table until the timer goes ding.
– Put your shoes on.  Hurry up!       – My car is leaving in five minutes.  Will you wear or carry your shoes?
– Put that back on the shelf.         – You may have that if you can pay for it before we leave the store.
– Clean up that mess.                         – I take kids to the park when all of the messes are cleaned up.
– Wash your hands.                              – Feel free to join us for dinner when you’ve washed your hands.
– Be quiet so I can read.                          – I read when it’s nice and quiet.
– Hold the cup with both hands. – You may drink out of this cup as long as you hold it with both hands.
– Stop crying.                                              – You may join us when you are done crying.
– Share your toys.                         – I will let you play with this as long as I see that you are sharing.
– Stop picking your nose.                       – I will listen to you when your finger is out of your nose.
– Say “please” and “thank you.”             – I do things for kids who say “please” and “thank you.”
– Take your bath first.                         – I will read you a story after you’ve taken your bath.

I am so excited to be re-learning all of this right now!  We have had some huge power struggles over just these types of issues at our house lately with our 3 year old.  I can’t wait to put this into practice!

(Photo courtesy of

Setting limits with enforceable statements is a way of getting what you want without creating unwinnable power struggles.  This is a very long list and just some ideas for you.   Start slow by experimenting with just one or two enforceable statements at a time.

Anger and frustration feed misbehavior.
Enforceable statements must be provided with a caring attitude.
The more words we use with a misbehaving child, the less effective we become.
Great parents keep their enforceable statements short and sweet.
Children will always come to need at least the same number of warnings or reminders as we give them.
Great parents describe the limit once… and follow through with actions instead of words.
Small children are like copier machines.  They can sense when we are the most stressed and self-destruct at the precise moment.
The better we take care of ourselves, the better our little ones will behave.

There is another part to session 4 called, “Taking the Mayhem Out of Mornings.”  This post is quite long so I will do a part 4 (b) next to break up the two parts.

It’s all about the journey…


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