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Thoughts About Love & Logic: Limitations of the Choices Technique

Thoughts About Love & Logic:
Limitations of the Choices Technique

In another article I described what I like about Love and Logic’s technique for offering a child choices that allow the parent to essentially give a command and/or pose the threat of a punishment in such a way that the child actually is responsible for making the choice, rather than the parent being responsible for imposing a command and a threat of punishment.

I like this technique a lot, and many parents in my classes have found it to be very useful, especially with younger children. It does provide children with a certain amount of “say” in the little everyday things that affect their lives (such as whether to eat what served or go to bed without eating till breakfast). Here I will describe the limitations of this technique. (See “Thoughts About Love & Logic: The Choices Technique” for a description of this technique.)

The First Limitation
First, the technique is, in a sense, a sleight-of-hand maneuver. It provides the parent with a tool for limiting the child’s behavioral options to those that are acceptable to the parent–including the use of punishment if the child makes a choice that is disagreeable to the parent (say, NOT picking up his toys, and then suffering the negative consequence of that choice). This is a not bad thing. It is an Old School power-and-control technique to get a child to do what the parent wants, and it can be effective and relatively painless for both parent and child.

However, if the child is able to see that in fact he has other choices available than what the parent offers, the technique can just as easily lead to a power struggle. Continue reading