Dr. Charles Fay: Love and Logic

Aug 25, 2015 by

Charles Fay, Ph.D. President of the Love and Logic Institute, Inc.

An Interview with Dr. Charles Fay: Love and Logic

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) First of all, can you tell us about your education and experience?

My father, Jim Fay, is the co-founder of the Love and Logic Institute. I often joke, “I wonder if this is why I became a psychologist…just to figure-out what happened to me as a kid.”

To this day I absolutely adore both of my parents.

Inspired by my father, I began working with youth of all ages in hospital and public school settings in the late 1980’s. I earned my Ph.D. in School Psychology in 1997 and have worked as a consultant to schools, hospitals, residential treatment centers and other organizations serving youth since that time.

My passion has always been to empower parents, educators and other professionals with practical skills for solving the daily challenges they face with youth…and for creating strong kids who can handle life.

Since the late 1990’s I’ve practiced as a parent of three boys, stand-up comedian, author, and international consultant. I’ve also written a number of books, audios, videos and training programs for parents and educators. I believe that people learn best when they are laughing and enjoying themselves.

2) Who founded Love and Logic and What are you trying to accomplish?

The roots of the Love and Logic approach go back to the mid 1970’s when Jim Fay (School Principal) and Foster W. Cline, M.D. (Child Psychiatrist) became very concerned about the number of kids with RDD (Responsibility Deficit Disorder.) They synthesized theory, research and practical experience into a practical and fun approach to parenting and teaching.

The focus of the Love and Logic approach is to empower parents, educators and other professionals with practical skills for taking good care of themselves while creating strong and responsible kids.

Some of the many topics we address include:

Avoiding unwinnable arguments and power-struggles

Setting healthy limits and boundaries

Developing decision-making and self-control skills

Teaching problem-solving

Potty training

Misbehavior in the store

Motivating academically underachieving youth

Increasing the odds of safe driving

Daily classroom management and leadership

Sincere empathy is the core of Love and Logic: Show the kids that you genuinely care BEFORE providing consequences.

Empathy makes it harder for kids to blame us for their poor decisions. Anger makes it easy for them to do so.

3) Kids seem to be on cell phones and ipad and ipods and all these devices- and obesity is one result. What do you see as some other downsides to technology?

Some of the downsides include:

Damage to family relationships

Social scientists understand that bonding and attachment require eye contact, reciprocal smile and loving touch. Kids are so frequently glued to their phones that they rarely experience these critical elements of bonding.

To make matters even more tragic, parents are often just as glued to screens as their kids.

When kids fail to bond with parental authority figures, they have difficulty complying with any other authority figure they meet. Without healthy family bonding, the fabric of our society begins to unravel.

Digital Addiction

Researchers are beginning to understand that these devices provide a sense of release or escape for many individuals. Any substance or activity that allows people to trade pain, loneliness, anxiety or any other negative emotion with a temporary distraction will become addictive to some people.

Children and teens hooked on devices display many of the same signs of addiction as drug addicts: Irritability, lack of interest in healthy relationships, a single-minded obsession with the device or activity, etc.

Failure to develop grit

The most important thing I learned in school was how to keep going when the going got tough. Information was often difficult to find, and kids of my era were forced to do horrific things like go to the library, ask librarians for help, wait for books that were already checked out, go back to the library, read the books, synthesize the information, etc.Today’s students can get information without any struggle whatsoever. What happens when these kids eventually face real life trials?

4) Pupils who cannot make the athletic teams tend to gravitate to the Internet and chat rooms. What do you see as problematic with this?

These youth often use the internet as an escape and an opportunity to create a more powerful and “cool” cyber-identity. This places them at risk for being pulled into cults, terrorism, pornography, etc. Many also fall victim to on-line predators.

These kids need loving adults who can help them discover their natural talents. Every person needs a healthy activity that provides a natural high. Mine was working on cars. Fortunately my parents understood this and encouraged me in this area.

5) Social skills and interpersonal skills can only be minimally learned online- or am I off on this?

You are correct. Social skills require practice with real social interaction in real social settings.

6) Some kids spend a gargantuan amount of time interacting with technology. Are parents often concerned about this?

Parents seem to fall into three basic categories:

Unconcerned and addicted

Some parents are addicted to their kids being addicted to technology. Since the kids are out of their hair while glued to screens, these parents are happy.

I hope that I’m wrong, but it seems that most parents may fall into this category.

Concerned but afraid of their kids

Other parents are very concerned about the problem but are too fearful of upsetting their kids to do much about it.

This may be the second most common category.

Concerned and empowered

These parents know that something has to change, and they are willing to be the “bad guy” in order to raise healthy, responsible kids.

Thankfully, the number of parenting falling into this category appears to be growing.

7) In my mind, parents should be supervising, and interacting with their kids- but often the kids are interacting more with chat rooms than their parents. Who is responsible? And is this neglect?

This is neglectful. Parents must raise their kids. They can’t expect digital devices, the schools, the courts or the criminal justice system to do so.

Again, the issue seems to be that many parents are addicted to not having to parent.

8) Often we hear about cyber-bullying- how big a problem is this?

This is a huge problem. Some stats suggest that over a quarter of kids experience this at some point. Some have even taken their own lives as a result. Some solutions involve:

Good parental supervision and limits

Teaching our kids how to respond to bullies.

Teaching our kids internal coping skills…so that they can choose not to be so devastated by what others say.

On average, about 26% of the students who have been a part of our most recent 9 studies have said they have been the victim of cyberbullying at some point in their lifetime.” (From the Cyberbullying Research Center. http://cyberbullying.us/summary-of-our-research/)

NOTE: Love and Logic is huge on teaching coping skills. We know that we can’t watch our kids every moment. We also know that we can’t protect them from every evil. Therefore, we want to parent and educate in was that create strong kids who can handle life’s temptations and challenges.

9) And pornography—how pervasive is the viewing of pornography by adolescents ? And what can parents do?

Pornography is a huge problem for adolescents and adults.

One study found that over half of boys and nearly a third of girls (ages 12 -15) viewed pornography. Most used the internet to do so.

Brown, J. & L’Engle, K. 2009, Communications Research, 36(1), 129-151, X-Rated: Sexual attitudes and behaviors associated with U.S. early adolescents’ exposure to sexually explicit media.

Some tips for parents:

Spend plenty of time with your kids. Enjoy them. Love them unconditionally. Create a home that is so warm that they don’t need to escape through video games, drugs, gangs, pornography, etc.

Model healthy and responsible behavior.

Don’t allow your kids to have their computer in their room

Expect that they place their devices in a basket by your bed each evening before bedtime

Let them know that you are willing to allow these devices in your home as long as they create no problems and they are willing to have monitoring software installed.

Admit that you cannot control what they do outside of the home, but also let them know that it is their life they will be affecting if they allow themselves to make poor decisions about this.

Match the general amount of freedom and privilege your kids enjoy with their general level of responsibility and respectfulness.

Hold them accountable with sincere empathy.

10) What have I neglected to ask?

The solutions to technology issues have very little to do with technology and mostly to do with healthy parent-child relationships.

Great leaders display both strength and love. So do great parents, educators and other professionals.

I’m also very concerned about the emphasis placed on technology in today’s classrooms. While kids need to learn how to use it well, are the schools overdoing it and leading kids to believe that this is the only way to learn? Are they also creating an entitlement culture, where students believe that they are owed these devices and cannot succeed without them. Are some teachers letting the devices teach…rather than having real and connected learning relationships with their students?

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