As Providence Plantation resident and independent Love and Logic facilitator Wendy Petricoff tells it, eight years ago she didn't have a clue what to do with her "2-year-old tyrant toddler."
After returning from a beach vacation with her extended family, the book "Parenting with Love and Logic" arrived in the mail from Petricoff's mother, a therapist. Petricoff read the book and has been implementing the parenting approach for the past eight-plus years.
Jim Fay and Dr. Foster Cline founded the Love and Logic parenting technique in 1977.
"Love and Logic is a really cool parenting philosophy," said Petricoff.
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Petricoff, her husband, Adam, her son, now 10 (and no longer a tyrant), and her daughter, 8, live in Charlotte, where Wendy and Adam - both 41 - moved 13 years ago. She has been formally teaching Love and Logic for more than a year.
Petricoff holds Love and Logic seminars at Jewish Family Services of Greater Charlotte Inc. She has given free talks at Borders and parent-teacher associations, and she holds private family sessions. Petricoff's seminars cover all of the skills in the Love and Logic playbook in a series of four two-hour sessions.
"The response from participants of the Love and Logic classes has been overwhelmingly positive," said Stephanie Starr, executive director of JFS.
"The basis of Love and Logic is building self-concept and teaching children how to be responsible and think for themselves," said Petricoff.
The first thing Petricoff tells parents is to "notice when your child is trying to engage in an argument - notice the behavior." To avoid such conflicts, Petricoff recommends using empathy and the following Love and Logic script: "Honey, I love you too much to argue."
If your child gets angry in response, repeat that one-liner three times calmly, said Petricoff. Change your location if necessary, and add: "Be glad to talk to you when you have something fun to discuss."
The technique is used to diffuse arguments. "Depending upon the child, he or she should, after two to three times of sticking to this plan, become more compliant.
"Nothing gets done when people are drunk on emotion," said Petricoff.
Petricoff has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Indiana University and worked in marketing and advertising for nine years. She attended two training sessions to become an independent Love and Logic facilitator.
A big issue Petricoff sees in south Charlotte involves parents not setting limits for their kids "because they don't want to deal with the outcomes," said Petricoff. "Kids that have limits feel more confident and loved. We don't want kids who have temper tantrums to grow up as an adult and throw temper tantrums."
Petricoff also said parents' expectations here are high, and they often have trouble letting their children experience natural consequences.
Our job as parents is to guide children to solve their own problems, she said.
"This is where real learning takes place," said Petricoff, "not when we tell them what to do and how to do it."
Petricoff loves sharing with other parents and educators and said she learns from their experiences, as well.
"Love and Logic gives you the script and tools to do it successfully and to feel good about it," said Petricoff.