Recognizing (and Surviving) the Beginning of the Logic Stage: “Whaaat?”

    By Monica Cappelli

question-marks[1]Well, it had to happen sometime. My sweet, compliant, easy little girl is growing up, and I am no longer the epitome of reason in her eyes. As she approaches her first double digit birthday, the Logic Stage* of learning is quickly gaining upon us.

Below are two of the many, daily, and sometimes hilarious examples of what the beginning of the Logic Stage looks like at my house. Needless to say, not all “opportunities” will end in giggles, but these recent moments did!

1. While deciding what to watch during a Mommy/Daughter Mani/Pedi:

DD: Let’s watch SpongeBob. It helps me think. (Scary…she was serious and straight-faced when she said that!)
Me: No, no, no, no, no. NO! Please, I can’t stand that show!
DD: But it’s FUNNY!
Me: I think it’s disgusting, and repetitive. Not funny at all. No way can I enjoy my pedicure with SpongeBob on TV.
DD: But please Mom!
Me: Uh uh. How about Ella Enchanted?
DD: No, thanks, Mom.
Me: Or Nanny MacPherson?
DD: Mom, now you’re just being difficult.
Me: But you like Nanny! We both do!
DD: But I don’t want to watch it! You know. . . Jon, and Aaron, and Chrissy like SpongeBob. Only you don’t like it…
Me: Ahhhh, but they’re not here. So you can watch it when they come home…When all three are here together. (Even though I secretly know that will probably be next June!)
DD: But Dad likes it. And he’s here. So who’s more important: you- or DAAAD?
Me: Well, when it comes to pedicures – I am!
DD: Uhn uh. Dad is. ‘Cause he married you, and then you got the babies!
Me (choking): Whaaaat?

Your child will probably offer many such mind-boggling “arguments” as they transition from the grammar stage to the logic stage. They will enlist all kinds of faulty reasoning in an attempt to understand their world, and to bend it to their liking.

These are good times to model well a reasoned argument – if you can manage to contain your laughter. (I admit, her appeals to popularity [siblings], authority [DAAAD], and the great big straw-man [babies. Really?!] left me laughing too hard to marshal my thoughts). Eventually their arguments will mature, as they practice under your cheerful tutelage.

2. Picking up my rather dramatic little daughter one day after school:

DD: Where WERE you, Mom? I didn’t see you ANYWHERE! I looked all over the place!
Me: Well actually I was parked right across the street from school. (Okay, so I wasn’t standing patiently outside in the cold, like some of the native Colorado moms, but she knows my car – right?)
DD: But I didn’t SEE you!
Me: Ah, but I saw you. You followed that little puppy all the way down to the other end of the block. You didn’t even look for me! I had to go get you!
DD: But I couldn’t help it! He liked me, and he was sooooo cute! And did you see his cute little ears? They were soooo floppy!
Me: Yes, he was cute, wasn’t he? (You see, I, too, am easily distracted by puppies!)
But I need you to come straight to the car from now on, okay? I shouldn’t have to go looking for you.
DD: Okay. Sorry. Well, I’m hungry and I think you owe me an ice cream.
Me: Whaaaat? What are you talking about?
DD: Well you’re the responsible adult. And you weren’t being very responsible, were you? I was a block away and A STRANGER could’ve grabbed me! So you owe me an ice cream. (A very self-satisfied smile followed this little zinger!)
Me (cracking up): Sorry, kiddo. . . Nice try though! That might have worked if it was true and if I wasn’t on a diet! (She laughed and settled for the two-day old Wheat Thins which happened to be in the back of the car!)

Ahhhhh, parents! Let’s enjoy this rocky transition from compliant Grammar to challenging Logic. Here are a few strategies:

1) Enjoy the mental gymnastics.
2) Choose your battles wisely.
3) Keep it positive whenever possible – the goal is to train, not to conquer.
4) Help your child analyze the quality of questions, reasoning, and arguments witnessed at school, in the community, in books, as well as on TV and other media by asking questions like:

a. “What did you think about that?”
b. “Did they really prove their point?”
c. “How would you have approached that question?”
d. “Did his/her decision make sense, in your opinion?”

5) Be willing to be convinced when their arguments are well-reasoned.
6) Your counter-arguments should model the same reasoning and respectful tone you expect your child to employ.
7) And just for fun: Give in sometimes with a mutual giggle – acknowledge the ridiculous and tip your hat to their valiant ingenuity!

Please share a story about your child’s Logical Journey. How are you coping with your budding logistician?

*To learn more about the three stages in a classical education-Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric-read Dave Miller’s post here:


    Monica CappelliMonica Cappelli is a wife and the mother of four wonderful children. Over the years her family has been blessed to experience home, public, private, and parochial schooling. This has given Monica an appreciation for the strengths and challenges of the educational choices available to families. A successful experience is possible in any of these situations with the support of community and prayerful, encouraging parents. Monica strongly believes that parental academic expectations and “leadership by example” in the areas of competence, autonomy, and service set the stage for a young person’s entrance into a successful, joyful, and productive adulthood.