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Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Alfie Kohn(Author)

    Book details


Most parenting guides begin with the question “How can we get kids to do what they're told?” and then proceed to offer various techniques for controlling them. In this truly groundbreaking book, nationally respected educator Alfie Kohn begins instead by asking, “What do kids need—and how can we meet those needs?” What follows from that question are ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them.

One basic need all children have, Kohn argues, is to be loved unconditionally, to know that they will be accepted even if they screw up or fall short. Yet conventional approaches to parenting such as punishments (including “time-outs”), rewards (including positive reinforcement), and other forms of control teach children that they are loved only when they please us or impress us. Kohn cites a body of powerful, and largely unknown, research detailing the damage caused by leading children to believe they must earn our approval. That's precisely the message children derive from common discipline techniques, even though it's not the message most parents intend to send.

More than just another book about discipline, though, Unconditional Parenting addresses the ways parents think about, feel about, and act with their children. It invites them to question their most basic assumptions about raising kids while offering a wealth of practical strategies for shifting from “doing to” to “working with” parenting—including how to replace praise with the unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people. This is an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts and inspire them to become better parents.

Author of nine books, including the controversial Punished by Rewards, Kohn expands upon the theme of what's wrong with our society's emphasis on punishments and rewards. Kohn, the father of young children, sprinkles his text with anecdotes that shore up his well-researched hypothesis that children do best with unconditional love, respect and the opportunity to make their own choices. Kohn questions why parents and parenting literature focus on compliance and quick fixes, and points out that docility and short-term obedience are not what most parents desire of their children in the long run. He insists that "controlling parents" are actually conveying to their kids that they love them conditionally—that is, only when they achieve or behave. Tactics like time-out, bribes and threats, Kohn claims, just worsen matters. Caustic, witty and thought-provoking, Kohn's arguments challenge much of today's parenting wisdom, yet his assertion that "the way kids learn to make good decisions is by making decisions, not by following directions" rings true. Kohn suggests parents help kids solve problems; provide them with choices; and use reason, humor and, as a last resort, a restorative time away (not a punitive time-out). This lively book will surely rile parents who want to be boss. Those seeking alternative methods of raising confident, well-loved children, however, will warmly embrace Kohn's message. (Mar.)Forecast: Kohn is a controversial and popular author/speaker, well regarded by scholars and educators. This title should appeal to parents who want to explore the "whys" and not just the "hows" of raising kids. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. "Powerful alternatives to help children become their most caring, responsible selves." -- Adele Faber, coauthor of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen . . .

3.4 (11246)
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Book details

  • PDF | 272 pages
  • Alfie Kohn(Author)
  • Atria Books; 1 edition (March 28, 2006)
  • English
  • 4
  • Parenting & Relationships

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Review Text

  • By Guest on December 7, 2005

    My wife loved this. She found it inspiring. I hated it, I found it profoundly unhelpful.It is typical of most parenting literature in that 1) it tells you that you are doing it wrong. and 2) there is no 2.The author is all negative. Don't focus on getting good behavior through rewareds or punishment just use love and understanding. Ok, what should I do when, say the toddler stomps on the cat just to see what happens?STOMP!! MEOOWER! "OK, honey baby, that makes the cat sad, so please don't do it."STOMP!! MEOOWER! "Hey kiddie widdlie, when you kick the cat upside the head, it hurts her, and she doesn't like that, so she would prefer it if you stopped that."STOMP!! MEOOWER! OK, screw Alfie. Back to reality, kid. You are getting a time out!He has nothing to say about real world parenting challenges, spending the entire book burning straw men. He would rather criticize the (no doubt fictional) parent who supposedly chastised their child for enjoying a day at the park, than tell real parents how to cope with real challenges.

  • By W. Marshall on March 2, 2010

    Kohn makes no distinction between different types of temperament in children. In that respect, he is no different than the Skinner-esque proponents of behaviourism. Assuming all children will behave (eventually) because they want to have a nice environment is doing a severe disservice to children; children come in all shapes, sizes, colors and personalities. While one child may love making mommy smile, another may delight in hearing loud noises and yet another may find pleasure in disassembling things and yet another may thrill to quiet introspective personal play and yet another may love being in a large group doing what others do etcKohn also makes the simplistic proposition that "consequence"= "conditional love"I honestly think conveying your love to a child is not limited by forms of discipline meted out as consequences for actions. I children must learn social cues, social norms and social consequences. Children's first social interactions are with their parents. There is no better and safer place for them to learn how to be properly social.No praise? Are you kidding me? Saying "goodjob!" = "I only love you when you do what I like" ? For real? Everyone likes hearing acknowledgement of accomplishment. Everyone. IN all cultures. Praise is acknowledgement of accomplishment NOT conditional "love" Praise is at least an acknowledgement of a task completed satisfactorily. Consider a child attempting to do something for the first time. HOW will that child even know they have done the task correctly if you do not tell them? Are they to somehow magically figure out everything on their own? Children are amazing learners but there are some times when even the best self-starters need to have guidance and clarification. "Good job!" doesn't just mean "you did what I want" It often means "you did that correctly!" which is inducement to do it again (which is what we call "practice") I cannot believe Kohn boils encouragement down to a theoretical stance of "conditional love"When my boss says "good job!" is he expressing love for me? I think not. He is saying he likes what I did and/or I did it correctly.We live in a universe of consequences. Children must learn those possibilities. I think its important that we keep our reactions to our childrens attempts down to a system of encouragement and gentle guidance but we have to recognize that children NEED guidance, including limits and parameters, clearly defined.They are children; they cannot navigate the world on their own, they NEED feedback. encouragement and guidance doesn't have to be criticism or praise, but there's nothing wrong with a little praise now and then either - it shows the child consequences yet again.I honestly think Kohn hasn't much experience in the realm of dealing with challenging children. I'd love to see him try to deal with a language-impaired, maybe ASD child using his model. Even just dealing with a "spirited" child (who are notorious for ignoring and/or defying directives). Good luck with that Kohn.

  • By S. Brown on January 4, 2008

    First of all, this book gives ideas that have absolutely no practical application. For example, he suggests that ideally you should never praise your kids, because they should learn to feel proud of themselves, not rely on your pride. Sure, they should feel proud of themselves, but aren't they more likely to just feel bad about themselves if they grow up with parents who refuse to hand out praise?More importantly to me, as a Christian parent, is the fact that he sites religion as one of the reasons parents these days are too conditional in his opinion. He actually states that the God of Christian and Jewish religion is the ultimate example of conditional love, and goes on to say that these religions teach God loves you only if you love him. I can't respect anything he has to say after reading that kind of nonsense.


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