Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Power of Or

Would you like go down the slide 1 time or 2 times before we go to the car?

Would you like to get into the high chair by yourself or would you like Mama to put you in?

Would you like to go nigh-night right now or in 5 minutes?

To say that questions like these have revolutionized our parenting might be a slight exaggeration. But only slight. Asking them has at least doubled our effectiveness in difficult parenting situations.

Magnolia has always been an agreeable kid but that hasn't meant we haven't had to pry her off the playground, battle over bedtime, and finagle over food. That is, until we read the opening chapters of Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood.

Now I must say that, as someone who appreciates rigorous scholarly writing, reading populist self-help books about any topic can be painful. I can't stomach the over-simplification and cheesy writing the genre usually entails, and this book unfortunately has those ingredients in spades but the advice beneath the cheese has been amazingly effective.

We've only read the first couple chapters so I can't vouch for the whole book (and I suspect the Amazon customer-reviewer who said that the book could be boiled down to a 10-minute powerpoint is right) but, my oh my, the wonders those 'or' questions have done!

I feel like an infomercial but, for real, on our second day of question asking we had zero resistance on the big 3 (nap-time, mealtime, and playtime). At the park, Maggie and I counted our two slides and then happily walked back to the car. At nap-time she (obviously) chose to play for five more minutes but when the time was up she didn't think twice about beginning her nigh-night routine. At lunch, given the two alternatives, she was happy to climb into her highchair on her own, apparently convinced that outright defiance was not an option.

I'm sure it won't last forever but for now asking a question that assumes the desired outcome but gives her some measure of control about how it comes about is working beautifully.

Sometimes I feel a little silly asking the questions but Magnolia hasn't learned to scoff yet. So even their recommendation to ask your child at the beginning of an activity if they would like to have fun or not have fun somehow just works.

So I'm asking you, would you like parenting your toddler to be easy and fun, or not easy and fun?

Check out the authors' website here and let us know your favorite parenting books or resources in the comments.


Jacob, Lisa and Charlie said...

LOVE this book. We have used it with our strong willed "angel" for over a year and it hasn't ever gotten old.

Jodi said...

Ohhh I like the "would you like to have fun or not have fun?" question. I'm going to use that sometime today.

I'll have to put this one on hold at the library. Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp is my favorite.

emily said...

yay for love and logic! you knew we use that, right? we have both the early childhood and "regular" book too (the original), which we used for a parenting class at church. it's a great strategy. and easy enough read for grandparents/family to get on board with what you're doing (which is wonderful for consistency of course, in a perfect world ;)

The Hansen Family said...

I forgot about this! I used to use it in my teaching. The funny thing is, I'm fairly certain the tactics for my two-year-old will be strikingly similar to those employed on "my" middle-schoolers! Ha, ha! Good infomercial. I bought mine on amazon (yea for used!) last night. Another good one for you is "Positive Discipline for Preschoolers"~ I like skipping around the chapters to get to what I need to read at that moment. I also like the book Jodi mentioned. Nice work guys! :)

Angela Starr said...

It works with my 4th graders at school. LOVE THIS, I am not a parent but I am a teacher and it is magical haha.