Teacher advocates tough love

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Sunday, February 10, 2008
— A parent’s first impulse when her child is struggling might be to rush in to save the day. Judy Ronzani said parents should stifle that impulse.

Ronzani is director of Sonshine Patch Christian Preschool and a teacher of Love and Logic parenting classes.

“Too often as parents, it’s easy for us to rescue our kids or try to solve their problems for them,” but that teaches children not to take responsibility for their own problems, Ronzani said.

Ronzani said Love and Logic guidance for a bad report card goes like this:

-- Don’t get angry. Make empathetic statements like this: “Wow that’s a bummer. I bet it stinks to bring home a report card like this.”

-- Then send a “power message”: “What do you think you can do about it?” That puts the problem back onto the child and sends a message: You believe the child has the resources to solve the problem.

-- The child’s response might be: “I don’t know.” That’s when the parent offers suggestions. The child is likely to reject the first suggestion, so Ronzani suggests it be something like: “Well, you could just keep doing what you’re doing, fail, and you’ll have to repeat fourth grade.”

-- Then suggest more useful solutions: “How about if you commit a certain amount of time to work on your math each night? “How about you ask the teacher about how to do better?”

Keep trying solutions. “Hopefully, at some point, the child says, ‘Yeah, I can probably do that,’” Ronzani said.

-- When you hit on a solution the child will accept, ask: “How will that work for you?” This lets the child understand what the consequences of the solution might be.

-- If the child just says no, the parent must say: “Well, I’ve given you some ideas. I hope one of those works out for you.” Leave it at that. Turn the problem over to the child.

The child might announce a day or two later that he will try one of the suggestions. If he doesn’t, the parent has to be strong enough to let the child fail, Ronzani said.

Parents who decide to “fix” the problem set themselves up for problems later on, she said.

“Look at how many parents that we have that are still bailing out their adult children because those kids never learned to accept responsibility for their own behavior,” Ronzani said. … “To build character, sometimes you have to let them fall on their faces, and if that means they fail a class and they have to take it in summer school, well that’s rough, but the child is forced to face the consequences.”

Love and Logic provides free advice about helping with homework, talking to teachers and other topics at www.loveandlogic.com/ articles.html.

Ronzani is offering a new Love and Logic class—which is not free—starting Tuesday, Feb. 19. Call her for more information at (608) 752-6301.

Last updated: 5:00 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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