5 Steps to Practical Parenting Pt. 1 with Dr. Charles Fay

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Life can be hard enough on your own, but when you throw in the challenges of disciplining a problematic child, it can get to be overwhelming. In part one of a series on parenting with Dr. Charles Fay author of Love and Logic, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen discuss a practical parenting approach that works. Fay also goes over his steps for teaching responsibility.


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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. Here we teach you how to win the fight for your brain to defeat anxiety, depression, memory loss, ADHD, and addictions.

Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to Amen Clinics, where we've transformed lives for three decades using brain SPECT imaging to better target treatment and natural ways to heal the brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceutical products to support the health of your brain and body. For more information, visit brainmdhealth.com.

Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast.

Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome, everyone. We're so excited today to have Dr. Charles Fay. Both Tana and I have been huge-

Tana Amen: Huge fans.

Dr Daniel Amen: Fans of Love and Logic for a long time. Charles is an author, a consultant, a highly-skilled, which we can testify to, public speaker. Millions of educators, mental health professionals, and parents worldwide have benefited from his practical and down to Earth solutions to the most common and frustrating behaviors displayed by children of all ages. These solutions come directly from years of research and clinical experience serving severely disturbed youth, families in psychiatric hospitals, public and private schools, and homes. Dr. Fay's interest in education and psychology were piqued as a child from years of exposure to some of our nation's most dynamic experts, especially his father, Jim Fay, one of the leading experts on child discipline. They are the founders of Love and Logic, which we've used in our own home. He now jokes, "I think that's why I became a psychologist just to figure out what they were doing to me as a kid-

Tana Amen: I love that [crosstalk 00:02:16].

Dr Daniel Amen: "Let me be clear. I absolutely adore my Mom and Dad as a result." He earned his Ph.D. with highest honors from the University of South Carolina. We are just so grateful-

Tana Amen: Yes, so excited.

Dr Daniel Amen: To have you. Now, you said, I have [crosstalk 00:02:32]-

Tana Amen: I need to say something-

Dr Daniel Amen: To let you jump in, or you're going to kick me.

Tana Amen: I'm gonna kick you [crosstalk 00:02:34] under the table, and I wore heels today.

Dr. Fay: I'm excited to be here.

Tana Amen: Thank you for joining us. And I just want to say, besides the bio, this is very personal to me. So I really appreciate you being here, and we've had your father on. I had the pleasure of actually attending one of your ... Very recently ... Attending one of your workshops. I took my sister and she got so much out of it. But this has been something very near and dear to my heart because I think I mentioned to you before, I have this daughter who at three years old, hands on hips, her entire focus was world domination. I'm the leader, I'm the boss. And every day was just, you know, this intense battle of wills. And I just couldn't figure out what she was doing wrong. And what I love about Love and Logic was that it's really not about training kids, it's really about training parents.

Dr. Fay: Yeah. And that's the challenge for all of us. And I ... Sometimes I'm kind of quiet about that, honestly, 'cause I'm concerned-

Tana Amen: Oh, it's true.

Dr. Fay: People actually come to my conferences anymore, 'cause it really is about setting limits with ourselves more so than with the kids.

Tana Amen: And if you think about it, that's pretty logical, right? So we've been raised a certain way and we continue this pattern for generations, even though it's never worked for generations. But we just keep doing what we've always been taught to do. And I look at my daughter. My daughter and I are super close now. I'm mean like crazy close. She is an amazing kid. And I look at her friends and some of the trouble that they get into, and I'm always amazed. I'm like, "Where are the parents?" They're not close to their parents. And it's just ... We continue this cycle that never seems to work.

Dr Daniel Amen: So I was saying before we went on the tape, that in my child psychiatry training, the first year they taught us to do play therapy with the kids. And most of the ADHD kids just wanted to blow stuff up. And at the end of, you know, my first year, I just hated these kids. And I hated my job. And then the next year, they had us do parent training.

Tana Amen: Oh, interesting.

Dr Daniel Amen: And so they actually didn't have us work with the kids, they had us work with the parents. And these severely disturbed children got so much better-

Tana Amen: Oh, interesting.

Dr Daniel Amen: In like six weeks. Teaching parents-

Tana Amen: What a concept.

Dr Daniel Amen: To be ... The two words I always think of are firm and kind ... That I became a massive fan of parent training. But then when I learned about Love and Logic, it just took it to a whole new level.

Tana Amen: It's like a perfect fit for what we do. And it just ... Tell us a little bit about the foundation of Love and Logic.

Dr. Fay: Well, Daniel said something that really nails it down. And that is the idea of firm and kind. A lot of times I'll say powerful and loving at the same time. And when you look at great leaders ... And I believe that great parents are great leaders ... You see that there are two dynamics interwoven in their follow-through with people, and that is they're caring. So people get the idea that this person is on my team. You know, they're a fan of me. And the second piece, though, is that they're able to set good boundaries and limits and also avoid that temptation and, you know, listeners, I want to admit. The temptation I struggle with very deeply is the temptation to oh, just say, "They're just going through a phase. They'll get over it." You know, "He's a nice kid."

Tana Amen: This is normal for [crosstalk 00:06:23] this age.

Dr. Fay: And, well, the price tag just goes up every day with poor decisions. And so a key part of Love and Logic is that we're really hoping the kids will mess up and make some poor decisions so that they can experience those consequences when it's still relatively small, the consequences are.

And all of this came to a head ... I think it was in desperation. We were driving through Nebraska and I was in the backseat of the car with my sisters. I was about five and kicking the back of the seat the whole way and stepping on the seatbelt in that old Chrysler, so it would tighten up on my father. And water torture all the way out to this wonderful place called Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska, where there's washing machines and tractors. And I was not impressed. And then all the way back to Colorado we were, you know, it's just that ... And I think a lot of your listeners, viewers can agree, it's the little stuff that just is picking at you all day long. You know, "Dad!" Or "Hey!" Or "Where is my?" You know, that kind of stuff.

And so my father's about ready to lose it with us. Then he's got this kid who gets naked in time out at, you know ... A first grader at his school who just ... The teacher sends to time out, the kid takes his clothes off. So he had problems at school and problems at home. And then he runs into this guy named Dr. Cline, he's a child psychiatrist and they become great friends. And they say to each other, "Well, we're gonna have to start figuring something out." And it was all for themselves. And then it just accidentally ... The word got out about what they were doing at the school.

But it really came down to two things. And if we can remember these two things as parents, we'll probably stay healthy most of the time. And the first thing is that I want to take good care of myself by really having healthy boundaries and limits. And so as soon as I start feeling just mad at the kids or exhausted, what does that say?

Tana Amen: It's [crosstalk 00:08:48] went too far.

Dr. Fay: I'm not setting good limits with them. So the second piece to it is that I ought to take myself out of the loop a little bit and quite micromanaging and rescuing so that the kids are ready for the real world when they get there. And so they went out-

Tana Amen: Huge lesson for me personally. Huge lesson.

Dr. Fay: Oh, it's huge. And my wife and I are still learning that lesson with our 11-year-old. The other day she comes to me and she says, "You know, we need to stop nagging him." I said, "Oh, that's a concept." So that really was the root of it, just real life with real kids and trying to put together some concepts that would help out.

Dr Daniel Amen: So what examples do you have that people can visualize what you're saying? So let's take, you know, the child who takes off his clothes in time out, or you when you were little, kicking the back of the front seat of the car. What do parents do besides yell, scream, hit? And I'm not a fan of yelling, screaming, or hitting, 'cause I actually think some kids get addicted to your anger.

Tana Amen: Well, and it just doesn't work.

Dr. Fay: It really did.

Dr Daniel Amen: So what we do here at Amen Clinics is we look at your brain. So if you're really struggling, we want to see what's going on in your brain. And our ADD kids who have sleepy frontal lobes, they are conflict seeking, drama-driven, and if you don't treat them, if you don't stimulate their brain, they will get their parents to stimulate their brain by screaming at them or by beating them. And so it's completely unconscious, it's Pavlovian-

Dr. Fay: You're right.

Dr Daniel Amen: And so I'm not a fan of that at all. So what do you do in a Love and Logic sense?

Dr. Fay: Well, one of the things ... And a very big sense of the word, we want to establish ourselves as loving authority figures. And that happens really through I would say the Four Steps to Responsibility. Maybe we can frame it that way. And the first step is we give a kid a task they can handle. And so in other words, we say to a kid, "Hey" ... The teacher ... Kid comes in, and this was a little kid who had a lot of problems, obviously, he would get naked in time out. You know, he comes in the next day and she's ready for him, 'cause she's learning some new skills and she's gonna experiment. And she says, "Oh, it is so good to see you. I just can't wait to see how this day goes. Because the great thing about having you is it's exciting every day."

And so the part about it that's really mind-blowing for a lot of us is that she didn't say you better behave. I mean, Daniel, what would happen if you said to a kid like this, "You better behave"?

Tana Amen: They're not gonna behave.

Dr. Fay: Exactly. And they're thinking, "Wow, this is a great opportunity for me to get a little dose of adrenaline here, 'cause this is gonna get real exciting." Okay? So she's given this kid a task that he can handle. And then this next step, which is crazy ... It's all crazy ... Is you hope and pray the kid blows it. Yeah, you know, like I give my kid an allowance and what am I hoping they do?

Tana Amen: Spend it before they [crosstalk 00:12:35]-

Dr. Fay: Spend it. It's like I hope they blow it so that they can learn that there's a finite amount of that stuff around. And so she's ... In her heart, she's kind of hoping the kid'll blow it. And parents, you know, this all sounds like kind of silly. But is there any logic in hoping that the kid blows it?

Tana Amen: Yes.

Dr. Fay: I mean, what's ... It's my ... I don't know, I'm not [crosstalk 00:13:01]-

Tana Amen: But I know the answer, because I've read the book. So ...

Dr. Fay: I'm not a psychiatrist, but I wonder if the brain stays a little calmer when you're actually hoping that ... Your brain ... Stays a little calmer when you're actually hoping, "Oh, man. I hope this kid does something nutty today. 'Cause why this is kid gonna learn a lot about life." And, "I sure hope when we got to the store this kid just throws a major fit, 'cause I got a new skill. I even got another skill I can use with other shoppers. I'm just gonna turn to 'em and say, 'Hey, this is the last time I'm gonna babysit for this family again.'"

Tana Amen: Oh, that's so great. Just so great.

Dr. Fay: But you're looking forward to it. And what we're really trying to do is we're trying to lighten up the home and we're trying to change the emotional weather. It's like great teachers, you know, they say to me, "I learned a long time ago, I have to create the weather in my classroom. Not let the kids create it." And you know, mirror neurons need to be taking my lead rather than the other way around.

And so she says to him, "Looking forward to seeing what's gonna happen." And she's kind of hoping for some action. And, you know, he starts to ramp it up. And unlike the day before when she got into a little bit of a power struggle, she just walks over to him and she says, "Oh, this is gonna be so exciting. Are you gonna be going off to behind the curtain there where the little time out is? Are you gonna go with your clothes on or your clothes off? It's just gonna be so fun to find out." And you know, she said he was so mad. It just ruined his day. Because-

Tana Amen: That's so funny.

Dr. Fay: There's a central concept ... And it's all linked in with psychology and neurology and all sort of different things ... And it goes like this. The more angry and frustrated I get about a kid's behavior, the more likely that strong-willed kid is gonna repeat that behavior over and over again. Well, so then now we have four steps. So give them a task they can handle. Number two, we hope they blow it. Number three, when they blow it, we provide loving empathy and we hold them accountable.

And you know, Love and Logic is really not about introducing pain. You know what Love and Logic is about? It's about just allowing the results to happen.

Tana Amen: That was so interesting and hard ... That was the hardest part for me.

Dr Daniel Amen: So say that again. When they blow it, we provide ...

Dr. Fay: Loving does of empathy, and we let the results happen.

Tana Amen: And for a controlling person, it's really hard-

Dr. Fay: To do this. You know, and there's part of me ... I vacillate between wanting to remove the results or intensify them somehow so the kid will really pay, right? And so there's another step, though. And the results with this situation were that there were some things that were happening that were, you know, like a field trip. And the teacher is well within her rights to say, "Honey, you know, I mean, it's real exciting when you do those things here. But I'm just not in the mood for chasing naked kids around the Denver Zoo. So when I don't have to worry about these sorts of things, we'll go and you can join us. And we can't wait to have you come." But there's a sense of accountability as well. And that's important for people to hear. It's again, it's that part of love and accountability at the very same time.

Now, another example that maybe I'll share ... Do we have time for another example real quick? To give-

Dr Daniel Amen: So we're gonna actually break this into three-

Dr. Fay: Okay.

Dr Daniel Amen: Topics.

Tana Amen: So we can have you all week.

Dr Daniel Amen: So let's make sure we have the four, and then we'll take a pause [crosstalk 00:17:26] and we'll get to some more examples. So give a task they can handle, hope the kid blows it to learn the lesson. When they blow it, provide a loving dose of empathy, but let the results happen. Is that four? Let the results happen?

Dr. Fay: Yeah. And ... But the fourth one ... The third one is the empathy and let the results happen. Number four is you give that task again.

Tana Amen: Okay.

Dr. Fay: It's kind of like you blow it and you experience the consequences. And then that person who loves you and is a big fan of yours comes along and says, "Hey, I'm gonna give you another opportunity to do this." And they don't nag and lecture. They just give you that opportunity which says you're capable. I believe in you.

Tana Amen: So before we head off to the next segment, I just want to point out this has worked like ... Like I said and I'm gonna keep saying it ... Magic in my life and with my relationship with my daughter. And we literally call her the 45-year-old soccer mom now. She's like hyper responsible. And I really do attribute it to this kind of training for me. The hard part for somebody who wants to make sure my daughter is well taken care of, does everything right, was to let go and let her pay those consequences. It took me ... She learned really fast. I almost never had to do the same thing more than once before she stopped doing that behavior.

For me, it took me about a year of training myself over and over to stop making mistakes. It worked perfectly when I did it, and then I'd find myself sort of gravitating back to my old behavior. And I'm like, "Oh, oh, oops." So I found myself listening to the ... At the time the DVDS, that'll date it a little bit ... In my car. Like, I had to like for a year, like grind this into my head. Because the training was for me.

Dr Daniel Amen: The CDs in your car.

Tana Amen: The CDs, yeah.

Dr Daniel Amen: So Charles, how can people learn this? As Tana said, it took her a while-

Tana Amen: And it was worth it.

Dr Daniel Amen: To do this. Where should they go? Loveandlogic.com? What would you recommend?

Dr. Fay: Of course, that's the best way to learn about Love and Logic is going to loveandlogic.com. And we also have people all over the world who are facilitators who do local classes. But the way you learn it is the way I learned how to study for tests in grad school and all that. You don't crack open the book the night before the exam and try to cram it all into your head. It's lots of space repetition. Lots of dribbling it into our brains. Lots of self-brainwashing. When we're in the car and we listen to the thing for 20 minutes and that's it. Just constant repetition and remember [crosstalk 00:20:28]-

Tana Amen: So I'm not alone is what you're saying?

Dr. Fay: No, no. Adults have the hardest time learning things.

Dr Daniel Amen: So Tana says this great saying that you don't start training on fight day.

Tana Amen: We have this discussion I like to fight. So you can't start training on fight day. You have to practice and train every day. So that on fight day you're ready.

Dr Daniel Amen: So this makes a great gift for someone who's pregnant.

Tana Amen: I'm going to ... And I don't endorse a lot of things, but I have to say the seminar that I attended with you was great. It's not an all-day thing. It's while kids are in school. But I really highly recommend if you're gonna do this ... I mean, the book is awesome, you know, all the mp3s, whatever ... But for me, I'm one of those people who learns by sort of submersion, so I like to be sort of submerged initially and then continue on. I would just strongly recommend people at least look into when there's gonna be a seminar.

Dr Daniel Amen: Alright. So when we come back, we're gonna talk about some more examples of using Love and Logic in different situations with kids and teenagers. And after that, we actually may begin to talk about young adults. Because-

Tana Amen: And relationships.

Dr Daniel Amen: That is often such a hard time for parents who have been sort of angry and lenient. And now they're dealing with a 20-year-old or even a 25-year-old who ... There was an ... Did you see the article on the paper ... The 30-year-old the parents finally kicked him out. And it became this huge brouhaha. I think he was trying to sue them or something.

We'll come back. We're here with Charles Fay and Love and Logic.

Tana Amen: So fun.

Dr Daniel Amen: Thank you for listening to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. Go to iTunes and leave a review and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to get a free signed copy of The Brain Warrior's Way and The Brain Warrior's Way Cookbook we give away every month.