Love & Logic: 9 Elements Focused on Fostering Powerful Relationships, Collaborative Learning Communities

If you ask any adult about their most dominant memories of school, one of the most common stories you’ll undoubtedly hear will be about a discipline situation. Whether we were successful academically or not, it seems our memory is closely connected to those times when either we or our peers at the time, were on the receiving end of disciplinary action. Naturally, we’ve come a long way from the early days of school when corporal punishment was the norm. But only recently have we truly made a departure from traditional punishment or reactive measures (suspension, expulsion) to more positive, proactive approaches (positive behaviors, supports, social justice).

Most schools have turned to multi-tiered systems of support that focus on the success of a learner in a whole or holistic sense. These supports are designed to address instruction, learning standards, behavioral expectations, problem solving, data evaluation, communication and collaboration, capacity building and leadership. Probably one of the most prevalent systems that many schools have adopted is Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS).

Well, as practitioners and advocates for project-based learning (PBL), iLEAD Schools believe there is yet another way – especially if it supports the philosophies related to deeper learning, student voice and choice, personalized learning and a bottom-up culture. iLEAD Schools have embraced a different system: Love & Logic.

According to the developers, they are aware that today’s educators have a long list of expectations and demands, while also simultaneously seeing ever-increasing numbers of students with significant emotional and behavioral challenges. Love & Logic believes that teachers need simple and effective tools that don’t require them to implement still another new and complex “program.”

iLEAD facilitators love both the simplicity and the approach, according to Director of Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment Linda Krystek. She said there are nine essential elements that connect well to both the instructional and cultural values of iLEAD. They are taught through examples, experience, and empathy. They are:

1. Neutralizing Arguing

As long as learners can argue with us, they will never come to truly respect us. This skill helps to put an end to student arguing and back-talk

2. Delayed Consequences

When you don’t know what to do, or you’re too angry to think straight, delay the consequence. Get the benefits of delayed consequences and immediate consequences all in one technique.

3. Empathy

Empathy opens the heart and the mind to learning. Teach responsibility by applying consequences with empathy.

4. Short-term Recovery

Sometimes some students need to be somewhere else…temporarily…so that we can teach and they can calm down and regroup. Preserve the learning environment so that students can learn and teachers can teach. Students decide when they are ready to rejoin the class. (not time out)

5. Positive Adult-Child Relationships

There will never be enough rewards, consequences, or techniques to get challenging youth to behave if we are not first developing positive relationships.

6. Setting Limits with Enforceable Statements

Never tell a stubborn kid what to do. Describe what you will do or allow, instead. Set limits without having to remind, lecture, or threaten.

7. Sharing Control within Limits

We can either share control on our terms or have them taken from us on theirs. Avoid power struggles by giving choices within limits.

8. Quick and Easy Preventative Interventions

Successful educators focus on prevention. Less successful ones focus on detention.

9. Guiding Students to Own and Solve their Problems

Good problem-solving requires plenty of practice. Teach students how to solve their own problems.

Love & Logic helps to foster powerful relationships and a respectful, collaborative environment that is foundational to a strong school community, according to Krystek.

“Looking through a Love & Logic lens allows facilitators and other school staff to facilitate a community of learners who are free to choose and be responsible for their choices,” she said. “It also empowers facilitators to handle challenging situations sharing by tailor consequences to meet the needs of individual students and infractions.”

Krystek indicates that this approach to school-wide discipline is based on principles, not a system. Instead of a list of rules and punishments, she said facilitators and learners collaborate to create classroom norms and enforceable limits that are set loving ways without anger, repeated warnings or threats.

“It is essential to maintain the dignity and self-respect of both the learner and the facilitator,” she said. “Learners are guided and encouraged to own and solve the problems they create and are given opportunities to make decisions and live with the consequences, good or bad. Misbehavior is handled with natural or logical consequences instead of punishments.”

iLEAD is proud that the founder of Love & Logic, Dr. Charles Fay, was adamant about how consequences are delivered. Krystek said Fay developed the foundational appeal that states that consequences delivered with empathy create responsibility, while ones delivered without empathy produce resentment. She said Fay recognized that control is a very powerful human emotional need and that Love & Logic emphasizes shared control within limits.

“Love and Logic puts facilitators and other school adults in control,” she said. “It empowers learners to think for themselves, raises the level of learner responsibility and accountability, and prepares learners to function effectively in real-world situations that can be filled with temptations, decisions, and consequences.”

Project-Based Learning Alignment

Love & Logic, according to Krystek, is a process by which children grow through their mistakes and learn from the consequences of their choices. She said facilitators gain control through a shared thinking/decision-making approach. And in PBL, Krystek shares how it’s a learning approach that empowers learners to be in the driver’s seat and embrace failure as a learning opportunity.

“Both Love & Logic and PBL send learners the message that the adult trusts them to create solutions and that they are capable, not helpless,” she said. “Both of these allow learners to be challenged and supported to grow both social-emotionally and academically.”

Additionally, Krystek indicated that skills that students get exposure to and are allowed to improve in – such as the Four C’s of Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking – are embedded throughout both Love & Logic and PBL.

The Difference Maker

iLEAD facilitators and leaders are very confident in the many advantages in Love & Logic compared to other approaches one may see in other school environments. Krystek created this chart to demonstrate the contrast:

Other Student Support Systems Love and Logic
Rules or systems-based Approach Principles-based Approach
Often use rewards and punishments to increase the odds of responsible behavior. Students are encouraged to ask, “What do adults want me to do? What will happen to me if I don’t do it? What will I get if I do? Creates safe, caring school communities with high expectations that up the odds for responsible behavior. Learners are encouraged to ask, “What kind of person do I want to be? What kind of learning environment do we want to have?”
Often use a Student Code of Conduct or Student Discipline Policy that includes student expectations and prohibitions they expect the student to follow, along with a prescribed and systematic discipline process that includes how and when a student may be disciplined as well as the different punishments that will be imposed. Punishment usually elicits an emotional response, a desire on the part of the child to become sneaky, rather than more responsible and the teacher or school staff become the “bad guy,” not the problem. Delivers consequences with empathy, and learners are encouraged to be active and assertive participants in the discipline process and are involved in determining appropriate consequences for misbehavior. Consequences expressed with empathy place the child in the thinking/decision-making mode and the problem becomes the “bad guy” not the facilitator.
Often have the philosophy that the teacher’s job is to teach the subject matter, and the student’s job is to learn it. Posits that the teacher’s job is to develop the kinds of relationships with students that will increase the odds that they will inherently want to learn content.
School staff members have a right to demand and expect obedience School staff members have a responsibility to guide students to own and solve the problems they create.
Consistency in school-wide discipline is achieved when all staff members agree and act on a prescribed set of rules and consequences. Consistency in school-wide discipline is achieved when all staff members agree that the misbehaving learner will be dealt with in a manner that is in keeping with a set of agreeing upon principles and that takes into account the unique aspects of the situation and the learner.


Krystek believes that Love & Logic provides a path that more educators and schools should look towards in terms of a philosophy on how to create community and student responsibility.

She said a quote from writer L.R. Knost – author of Two Thousand Kisses A Day – has always resonated with her. It reads, “Discipline is helping a child solve a problem. Punishment is making a child suffer for having a problem. To raise problem solvers, focus on solutions, not retribution.”

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Michael Niehoff

Michael Niehoff is a Getting Smart Columnist. He is a teacher, leader, blogger, and student advocate.

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