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on March 4, 2008
I borrowed this book from the library and have just finished reading part one. I will admit first that I am the product of what the authors call "helicopters," so some of the ideas in the book are unusual to me.

In general, I like the idea of natural consequences, enforcable choices, and encouraging children to think through their problems. I can see myself using these principles with my own daughter, but not always the way the authors do it. Some of the sample dialogues in the book are reasonable but many do not sound as genuine and empathetic as the authors imply.

Some of the examples in the book and in the "pearls" are making me very upset. In one case, a child has been neglecting her dog by not feeding it, so the mom just gives it away with no warning and without confronting the girl about it. The authors admit this is a really tough approach but that's how kids learn that unless you take care of your health and your animals serious illness or death can result. Now this sounds crazy to me. In our home, we think of pets as a family responsibility, so that might be one difference. Still, wouldn't it teach the girl more about empathy to sit her down and say "you can either come up with a schedule and feed the dog or we are giving it away, you have one week to improve." Why do these authors feel that giving someone a second chance is a bad thing? It seems this might teach her "if I don't fulfill my responsiblity, someone else will take care of it for me."

Another example is a mom who asked her son to do something and he mouths off and refuses. So the next day when he asks for a ride she says, yesterday you showed me that asking nicely can be ignored, so I'm not going to drive you to your activity, even though you asked nicely. Isn't that just being petty and/or spiteful? That's a great lesson for your kid.

A third example is a kid who blows his lunch money and allowance on a carnival and has no money for lunch at school. So he asks his dad if he can make a lunch from food in the fridge. The dad says, yes, but you have to pay for it because I already gave you money for lunch once. Really? Your kid offers to take responsibility to make his own lunch all week and you are going to charge him for it? I'd think remembering to make lunch everyday would teach him the lesson. I agree to not giving him more money, but charging for the food in the fridge sounds stingy - won't he learn that as part of the lesson too?

I think it is possible for kids to learn self-reliance with this method but some of the examples just sound like the kids would end up feeling like their parents are not willing to help them out without significant groveling. It sounds as though a Love and Logic parent is not supposed to give advice or help a kid work on the solution, or not until the child has time to ponder it and slink back to ask for help. I'm not advocating parents do the solving, just help, like talking it out with them or brainstorming. I thought helping others is an important value to teach our kids (not being doormats, being a sounding board to say "what do you think would happen if you used that solution?"). This seems to teach "I'm genuinely sorry you have a problem but it's still yours." Nice.

I just wonder if some of these examples I've listed would make the kid feel like their parents view them as impositions or that the parents really begrudge them something. I realize that how you do it depends on the age of the child, but some of this still seems pretty harsh the way the authors do it. In some cases I don't think that helping them is equal to bailing them out. The examples sound like the parent says "I know you will come up with a solution" and then they just walk away.

I greatly prefer How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and How to Listen so Kids Will Talk. It also emphasizes consequences and letting kids make choices and solve problems themselves but it shows you how to do this and keep talking with them at the same time. If Love and Logic is a turn-off for you, consider reading this other book before throwing out the consiquences/choices method entirely.
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on September 15, 2011
So, I am not going to try to avoid redundancy here; I am just going to chime into the chorus of people stating that this book takes sound psychological principals, twists them into opinionated, super Christian fundamentalist parenting "tips" which, if applied, will most likely end up as abuse. The way I see it, this book has some major, horrible issues.

My background: I am a linguist and cognitive scientist who advocates neurological nurturing and optimal brain health through parenting the sound, scientific way. I have a two year old, and I am a devoutly practicing Orthodox Christian. So note that when I say that I find this book lacking in the Christian principle of love, of treating others how one would like to be treated, and full of evangelical wrong-headedness. It is also chock-full of bad neurological strategies, and takes advantage of a child's dependence and immature brain structure by making them choose out of helplessness to the situation. This is dangerous stuff.

Problems outlined:
1. Chiming into the chorus - no innocent animal should ever be allowed to suffer; If we took the sound conclusion that the authors make elsewhere in the book, that warnings allow kids to know that they have stretch room in our discipline habits, and that we should avoid warnings and make a serious point to let kids know that unacceptable behavior has an immediate consequence, then the logical conclusion to come to is that if your kid can't take care of the dog they wanted, they have to find that dog (with help, of course) a loving and better home than the one they're providing...not withhold food from the dog. It's cruel, and the dog never deserved to have to suffer. Just a little side thought: it is widely known that serial killers do just these sorts of things to animals when they are little kids. Whether that's a cause of the inner cruelty within these children, or a recipe for becoming a serial killer bears little import in the light that, either way, you don't want to find out by using this method with your kid.

2. It is stated in the book that kids model neatness behavior in their parents and stick with it as teens. Now, if that's true, explain for me please, why even the best kids with parents who model ideal neatness habits end up cluttering their rooms beyond recognition as teenagers? Could it be that this is not an issue of neatness, but a condition of a developmental stage?

3. It is stated in the book that kids who do not learn to "think for themselves with an inner voice" will automatically succumb to the outer voice of peer pressure whenever it comes along. Sociological and psychological studies tell us that the reason that kids emulate peers is that they are attempting to make different choices in the struggle for autonomy, but learning still has to take place optimally as emulation of *someone*. These peer influences are actually beneficial and necessary to a person's psychological health and growth, and kids are bound to make some life errors, but they never learn anything without trying on different emulation roles. Kids who know they are supported and loved, not manipulated and twisted to the parent's needs or wants, are those who are much less likely to choose poorly.

3. Charging your kids for anything (chores, the babysitter, etc.) is a problem. It is undermining the role of a parent as an ally to do this.

4. I was absolutely horrified at the notion of leaving for the night and instructing the sitter to be unresponsive to their need for comfort or water, or whatever, telling the kid that it's because they wake up at night that they have chosen poorly. Kids have to have a reliable figure in their lives that does not abandon them in a time of real or perceived need. They do not specify how old they think a kid should be in order to complete this horrifying scenario. My fear is that the uninitiated person, who does not know about "neurological piggy-backing" and "self-regulatory soothing via reciprocated feedback" will employ this method on their kid, too young to really comprehend why they are not allowed to express a need at night, not knowing that this may cause separation anxiety and neurosis for the kid who just needs to have a caretaker that regulates emotion *with* them. They should retitle the last chapter "go the F*** to sleep" and sell it accompanying the book of the same title, as a "parenting tip" in seriousness instead of jest.

5. Taking any kid's toys without a promise that they'll get them back is a recipe for a kid to grow up resenting that action. Period.

6. The way this book advocates manipulative coercion, impossible choices, isolation, and withdrawal chills me.

7. The authors advocate "painful" spankings. They state that one should never spank unless they can really make it hurt, and they advocate it for kids under three, who are too little to understand why the person that should nurture and love them most is doing this.

8. Chiming in with the chorus again: never withhold food from a kid. It is abusive neglect to do so. It's also a pretty well-known fact that kids need to have appropriate blood sugar levels in order to develop necessary brain function and to behave well. Withholding food is not just abusive, but a bad suggestion, because hungry kids tend to misbehave. Note that the brain takes a long time to develop its connections and that withholding food is causing a child's brain to critically malfunction, at any age. Even one incident of this can be structurally damaging.

There are about a thousand more ways this book is a damaging, psychologically abusive book. Don't buy it. Don't employ its strategies. They are harmful at best. It is my thought that, as parents, we are trying to raise a kid to grow up into a successful person who has emotional regulation skills, sound reasoning abilities, and who will be a benefit to the world for having been in it. Furthermore, we are trying to pass on parenting skills via immersion. This book does little to satisfy those ends. It is therefore helpful to remember that what we teach our kids about our parenting style by modeling is what our great-great-great grandchildren may be learning, and it is a heavy thought to consider that by employing these strategies, we could be creating a neglect and abuse cycle that will last far longer than we'll be alive.

Please, do yourself and your kid(s) a favor, and buy a "positive parenting" book instead. There are points in this book well worth considering, yes, all having to do with logical conclusions and choices to make them, but to that end, I say that 'even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes'. I bought this book in hopes of finding an alternative to time-out, and what I got was a book full of cunning manipulation, deceptive "control" tactics, and an emphasis on developing a sort of parental narcissism to "regain control". Please, do not buy this book. Please. For the love of your child.

Trust someone who was parented in this general way (me), when I tell you that the outcomes expected in this book are not what you're going to get, because your child will be damaged forever by some of these tactics. I know I still resent some of these tactics, and I found myself plunged into a remembrance of what it was like to be the kid on the other end of a parent who thought that these sorts of tactics worked. I firmly believe that if my mother could have seen far into the future and known the damage that these tactics cause, that she would have done differently. We all would; therefore, my advice is not to buy this book, not to employ these practices, and not to embrace this sort of extreme "natural consequence" ideology, before you too, are the parent saying that all you wanted was relief from upsetting behaviors in the moment, and instead, what you got was a kid that resented and hated you for having been the parent that read this book and put it in action.
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on September 16, 2012
I do agree with the concept behind the book and I have already had some great experiences using the techniques with my 2-1/2 yr old son in the past couple of months. I want to offer him some control over limited choices and allow him to experience the consequences of bad choices. I've been calmer and more empathetic with him and we have all enjoyed the new atmosphere. We have a great little guy, and these authors offer some great advice for gradually entrusting him with bigger and bigger decisions. We want to make sure he takes ownership of his actions but we want to enjoy his childhood with him and not be stressed out trying to dominate him.

I'm dismayed, though, by some of their "success" stories. A good many of them involve not letting the kid eat. Even a toddler is supposed to get the connection between having thrown food at the table and going hungry overnight. Is a 2-yr-old developmentally able to even process "I'm miserable because I'm hungry", let alone"I'm hungry because I chose not to behave at the table"? And as he ages, am I supposed to stay up all night, guarding the kitchen, to make sure he doesn't just fill up on junk food after he missed dinner playing his video game? What kind of consequence is that?

Another success story involved a 12-yr-old foster child who was left alone at a shopping center for 5 hours because, chronically late, he didn't make it to the agreed-upon meeting place when they were ready to leave. Is that even legal?

And what about misbehavior that doesn't always come with its own consequences? We've all heard of bullies who get away with tormenting others for years with no ill effects on their own lives. I'm supposed to mind my own business, sure that one day my son will wake up to his misdeeds, if I see him pounding on the smaller kids in the neighborhood? Sounds like a cop-out to me.
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on August 14, 2013
I have my Bachelors in Child Development and a Minor in Psychology. I gave this book a try since a friend lent it to me and kept waiting for it to get good. The advice to let children experience their own natural consequence is reasonable but some of the examples and executions are extreme. There are certain boundaries parents can set for children with great outcomes for now and in the future, when they move to being teenagers and adults. This book never settled well in my spirit and as a parent we know to always go with our gut and do what is best for our family and child. I have three children and so far have learned that validation, proper boundaries, and letting them go for it (as far as all gross motor development is concerned i.e. riding bikes) has been terrific lessons for them. Through conquering activities such as riding a bike, they learn confidence by the competence they gained by doing it themselves. Quality time with kids is extremely important as well as valuing the time and experiences with them. I agree never to hover over your kids and do everything for them but to let them have responsibilities that they must follow through on. And, please don't do as the author suggests and shut children in their room when they say they are hungry before dinner. If a child is hungry thirty minutes before a meal say, "I see you are really hungry right now. Dinner will be ready in thirty minutes. You can choose carrots or an apple while you wait." There is no need to isolate them in their rooms for simply saying they are hungry and having to physically keep a door closed with a towel. I believe is not the best advice for this particular situation. There's countless more examples of ways you can parent differently and more effectively but bottom line is get your parenting advice somewhere else! A great book is "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen...And Listen So Kids Will Talk."
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on March 26, 2010
I add my name to the countless others who share my concern about where they feel the line should be drawn (or their lack of a line at all).

They lost me, and I expect countless others, at the example of the family allowing the animal to go hungry long enough that his ribs were showing. They do not step in when the child neglects the dog, expecting the child to be responsible for the dog. THEN after puppy has gotten so thin it's ribs are showing (not a fun period of time for our furry friend I'd imagine) the parent steps in to say the dog has gone to a "new home" They state that "We sometimes worry that this approach sounds too tough, taking a pet out of the home with the possibility it may never return". I don't see this as the primary problem! An animal is not fed to the point his ribs are showing in order to provide a teaching moment.

Interesting the book only a few pages prior states we should "tremble" at what parents' model.

Uh Oh! - Love and Logic modeling neglect, pets are disposable, and to add insult to injury the mom says it hurts her eyes to see the starvation and her ears to hear the cries of hunger. Really?! Don't know I want to teach my children that those who "suffer" the observation of neglect yet choose not to act are the ones who should have our compassion.

They have some good fundamental ideas but I am suspect of how far they go with their approach. I'm unwilling to allow my child to abuse or neglect another living creature and think I'm going to sleep well suffering the "consequences" of that.

I've seen reviews stating other concerns about lines that are drawn, or not draw and am happy to spare myself the frustration of reading those examples.
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on April 1, 2008
I am not a licensed child therapist, but I am a journalist (and parent) who has done quite a bit of research into this topic. While this book may seem broadly appealing, especially for parents who are at wits' end and are looking for a quick solution to behavioral and disciplinary problems, I would urge readers great caution and more than a grain of salt if they intend to apply the methodologies listed within.

Readers should understand that while this book appears to offer a balanced approach based on teaching a child to understand the consequences of his decisions, it advocates some approaches -- for example, spanking -- that have been proven by the scientific community to be ineffective. As other one- and two-star reviewers have noted, other "consequences" are borderline abusive (withholding food, for instance).

It bears noting that the primary author, Foster Cline, is a pioneer of a very controversial therapeutic approach called Attachment Therapy, in which children are physically restrained and physically and verbally tormented (some would say tortured) in an attempt to get them to acknowledge the dominant role of the parent and to "give up" rage and related behaviors. Dr. Cline in 1995 was charged with various breaches of professional conduct by the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners.

Attachment Therapy is viewed with at best skepticism and at worst horror by the mainstream psychiatric community. The approach has been implicated in the deaths of four children (ranging in age from 10 to 2) in which AT therapists and/or parents have suffocated or crushed children and in one case caused death by overhydration, when a four-year-old was force-fed water after she drank her sister's juice.

Please be very careful if you choose to purchase this book and put the principles into action. Do not feel you have to follow the guidelines as gospel and if anything seems wrong to you as a parent, heed your conscience. Better yet, eschew this book and look for those based on sounder psychological principles (the books by Adele Faber are excellent).
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on January 19, 2009
Many of the basic premises of this book are based in wisdom and truth. I agree with the authors that it is important for parents to raise responsible children; that it is critical for children to be allowed to learn from their mistakes; that parents should not rescue children from the consequences of their behavior; that children need the opportunity to practice decision-making in order to become responsible; that children must be presented with circumstances that cause them to reflect and internalize the choices they are making rather than have everything imposed on them externally. I also agree with the authors that parents' words are useless when not accompanied by parallel actions that demonstrate that what is said is meant, and that effective parents remain calm and not display frustration when addressing their kids.
All of these truths need to be built intentionally into effective parenting.

However, allowing children to experience natural consequences and learn from their own mistakes is simply one aspect of effective parenting. It is not the whole thing. This book advocates a comprehensive parenting philosophy built upon the effort to make all learning experiences relate to natural consequences. This is neither practical nor appropriate.

The authors assume, for instance, that basically any direct instruction from a parent to a child will be less effective than allowing the child to learn the information himself through experience. Children need parents to explain life to them, to help them unpack their mistakes, and to communicate clearly with them. Much of this can and should be done through direct, clear, respectful communication between child and parent. Direct communication does not have to be "lecture," as the authors presume and repeatedly state, and in fact, effective parenting requires the parent to learn fruitful communication methods with her child that is not in lecture-format.
The authors advocate to always "keep your mouth shut" when enforcing a consequence and "allow the consequences to do the teaching." In some cases this may be most effective, but in many cases, to avoid discussion of lessons being learned by the child is to rob him or her of the counsel that a child needs from her parent.

It is also unwise to assume that experience is always a sufficient teacher. Children lack the life experience and wisdom that parents have gained by their own decades of experience. While it is true that many lessons will need to be learned firsthand by children for them to fully `take,' it is also true that children can (and should) benefit enormously from hearing about and discussing the wisdom that parents have gained through their own life experiences. Children can receive wisdom from their parents, and it behooves parents not to assume that they can't hear it or won't want to.

Further, the authors state: "Allowing children to solve their own problems presumes an implicit, basic trust that their behavior will change as they learn from their experiences." While this is often true, it is not always true - and it is inappropriate for parents to believe that their child will gain wisdom and maturity only from being allowed to learn from their mistakes. Humans are flawed and fallen and often arrive at wrong conclusions as a result of their life experiences. Wise parents should not assume that experience alone will be a sufficient teacher.

It is also wrong to presume that allowing children to learn from their mistakes is always the most loving way to parent, as the authors state. ("Our intervention into our child's problems demonstrates a selfish love. We must rise up in a higher love - a love that shows itself in allowing our children to learn on their own.") Children need input from their parents, and oftentimes they need it to be explicit. Just because some may resist the input at the time it is rendered does not mean that to speak into their lives is unloving - or less loving than letting them learn the information themselves. Part of good parenting is teaching, and much of teaching is direct and candid - not hidden behind parental orchestration of choice-based events for the child.

One area that is wholly neglected by this book - and by advocating the consequence-based teaching method to the degree that these authors do - is the arena of authority and obedience. (It's interesting, for example, that while the authors start each chapter with a Bible passage, none of them are the classic New Testament verses on parenting that emphasize obedience such as Eph 6:1, Col 3:20, or 1 Tim 3:4). The parent-child relationship is predicated on the authority that the parent has over the child, and a wise parent will ensure that the child is taught, understands, and accepts the right role of the parent as the authority in his life that whom is expected to obey and respect. This goes against the grain children's natural desire to run and control their life, but it is critical for children to grasp and eventually accept the appropriate role of authority over them for them to succeed and thrive in society. The authors advocate parents' maintaining control but always allowing the child to believe they are in control - and in fact, a central goal advocated for parents by this book is to manipulate teaching situations so children always see themselves as in control.

This does a disservice to the child. Yes, children should be given choices, and yes, parents need to help them become independent and responsible through ensuring they have many opportunities to make decisions that have consequences. But children should also learn and come to respect the authority of their parents when it is directly applied. There is no space for this in the Love and Logic method. In fact, it is explicitly recommended against. To the authors, to directly exert authority or to employ discipline that is not consequence-based is always to be a `drill sergeant parent' - ordering their children around and rendering themselves ineffective.
Appropriately exerted authority, offered respectfully and in a balanced fashion, does not have to look like this, and actually should not look like this.

There is a balance. Parents do their children no favors when they build autonomy and independence in them at the expense of their learning to accept appropriate, respectful authority in their lives. Wise parents will teach their children to obey and respect them for their role as parents - indeed, children crave and appreciate the security that this creates in their world so long as it occurs appropriately and respectfully - while at the same fostering a willingness to accept and yield to appropriate authority from their parents.

This book serves to highlight the role of consequences to children's learning, and to their becoming responsible individuals. Some examples it provides illustrate ways that parents can effectively introduce consequences into children's lives (particularly effective for older children.) However, it takes one tenet of childrearing and tries to extend it to all of parenting, which is inappropriate and even, in some cases, is an abdication of true parenting responsibilities. Boundaries with Kids presents the majority of the same information in a manner that is much more balanced and doesn't over-extend its scope in the manner of this book.
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on May 8, 2010
I am a sociologist and much of my background centers around family and child development. This book has some of the worst (and most outdated advice) I've seen doled out in years to parents. The parents that follow the advice outlined in this book are the same ones you hear about that leave coal in their children's stockings for Christmas to "teach them a lesson."

The good: The book premise is to help parents raise responsible children and it does make some valid points about the importance of raising successful children.

The bad: The parenting methods the authors suggest you use are one of the reasons why so many of us say we don't want to raise our children like our parents raised us. Their methods center around the concept of 'tough love' and are based on seriously outdated child-rearing concepts. Some of their advice has the potential of bringing not just animal right advocates to your door, but children service agencies as well.

The authors identify various parenting styles at the extreme end - failing to acknowledge that most parents rear their child(ren) on a continuum. Parents who fluctuate between parenting styles allow for more versatility than the one size fits all approach the authors advocate.

The authors also assume that all social institutions are fair and just and that your child should be a conformist. While at the extreme end helicopter parents can be a problem, many parents are left with no choice but to advocate for their children. For instance, in today's zero-tolerance school environment common sense has been lost in favor of suspending elementary students for trivial reasons such as bringing a plastic knife with their lunch. These children are helpless to defend themselves in these kinds of situations and need their parents to stand up for them.

The authors are also out of touch with other issues, such as school homework. They point to homework completion as being the child's problem, not yours, yet many teachers are sending home assignments that are meant to be completed with their parents (in order to increase parental involvement in homework.) There is also substantial research out there that demonstrates homework at the elementary level has no academic benefit and that children's time would be more productive and beneficial if they were engaged in other activities. As a result, parents armed with this knowledge are challenging teachers who consistently send home busy work that takes away from valuable family time (these are the same parents who are often unfairly labeled as helicopter parents.)

There are also several instances where the authors are really preaching values under the guise of information. Additionally, I have some very serious concerns about the authors backgrounds, which you can read more about in other reviews. All and all, this book is absent of any sound child-rearing advice and really no more than the authors own personal opinions on how they think you should be raising your children.

If you are a religious fundamentalist looking to provide your children with "tough love" then this is your book. For the rest of you, keep searching for something better.
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on June 5, 2009
I read this book after reading the wonderful How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen, and How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk.
Love and Logic could not be any less loving or logical. The premise of giving your kids meaningful choices seems sensible enough. However, the book began to set off red flags for me as soon as it outlines its bizarre "uh-oh" song.
Particularly strange was the suggestion to lock your child in her room (because she made a "choice" to have herself locked in).
Where is the empathy for the child? It seems to me that any child treated in this manner would grow to resent and hate the parent for dictating to her that she had "chosen" to be withdrawn from the loving contact of the family. I found the inane "choices" offered to the child in the book's examples to be completely counter to the entire goal of giving choice in the first place. A child only learns independence by being given meaningful choices, not by being told he can choose to go to his room walking by himself or being carried.
I will throw my copy in the trash. Please read Unconditional Parenting or How to Listen instead. I fear that a child raised according to this book will feel lifelong anger and resentment. This book's creepy and bizarre methods will probably be perceived by most children as parenting with hate and arbitrariness.
A previous reviewer suggested a google search: ""Foster Cline and Rage Reduction Therapy."
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read about Foster Cline's "Attachment Therapy." Just from a cursory google search I was appalled, sickened, and disgusted. This "therapy" seems absolutely abusive. I am disturbed that such horrendous abusive of children exists in the name of therapy. To the 125 5 star reviewers of this book: once you understand Foster Cline's professional background and work, please reconsider following the methods outlined in this book.
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on June 28, 2012
Cline was charged with various breaches of professional conduct by the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners. Google Attachment Therapy & Evergreen Colorado to read more.
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