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Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason Paperback – March 28, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
I told my husband when I finished it that I was going to try it. We were done with time outs, punishments and praise. My husband raised his eyebrows but went along. While I can't say that we've done this perfectly, the change this wrought in the behavior of our oldest (4 yrs old) was amazing. So much so that my husband said about two weeks later that whatever it was that I was doing differently, I should keep doing it. Her preschool teacher remarked that my daughter just seemed to "really change, really grow" all of a sudden. Truly, it was remarkable.
It should be noted that this is not a "how-to" book. There are not a lot of practical examples of how to parent as Kohl suggests. For this, I would suggest reading "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Faber and Mazlish (as well as their other books).
Even if you end up not agreeing with this book, I would suggest reading it since it will challenge you to think critically about what kind of children you want to raise and how they way you parent affects them.
ETA: It's now been two years since I first read this book and I would still consider this the most important, even if not most helpful, parenting book I have read. It not only transformed my parenting but it gave me tools for sorting through the mounds of often contradictory advice out there.Read more ›
Here is what I liked about it:
Kohn emphasizes teaching empathy, teaching kids about the effects their behavior will have on OTHER people, not just on themselves; teaching kids to behave because it's the right thing to do, not out of fear of punishment or desire for reward. This is an extremely important and useful concept that many parenting books neglect.
I think many of his observations about "conditional" parenting are spot on, and things I remember painfully from my own childhood.
Everything he says is well-documented, not just his own spouting opinion. I think he is especially brave to take on race, religion and culture when he makes his assertions. I find his information about self-esteem to be particularly relevant.
I like that he allows hardworking parents to cut themselves a slice of slack. The world is not going to come to a crashing halt if your child sees you fumble. I have a three-year-old, and his advice about three-year-olds is helpful in the practical sense. There truly ARE many times when I feel like yelling at my child, "Are you dense?!" only to have Kohn's words echo back at me, "I'm not dense! I'm THREE!" A lot of this information is reassuring and helps me to be more calm and patient.
Finally, he advises parents to take his own advice with a grain of salt, something most parenting gurus won't do. He acknowledges that there are times when your child needs a bath or you need to get out of the house by a certain time and you will have to impose your will on the child and there isn't a way around that.Read more ›
It makes a strong case for why both punishment/criticism/consequences and rewards/praise not only are ineffective in getting kids to do what we want but also cause lasting harm to kids' development. It provides many great insights toward alternatives, all flowing from the idea that we must unconditionally meet children's needs, that this is how we can give kids a solid foundation upon which to develop healthfully.
Yet the book is certainly not about being a pushover as a parent. The punishment/reward opposites it criticzes are distinguished as, themselves, just one side of another pair of dysfunctional parenting opposites. They are just different ways to use power to control kids. On the other hand is permissiveness, which is also ineffective. The book makes clear that it is both possible and necessary to be a parent, to set boundaries, and that it's simply a question of how one does so, respecting kids as human beings and seeking to work with them toward positive ends rather than do things to them that can't possibly move them toward the ends we want.
UP sheds a great amount of light on parenting, education and, if one is willing to extend its ideas, communication in general, even among adults. On top of all this, it is an easy and enjoyable read.
For those already interested in approaches such as attachment parenting, unschooling, positive discipline, etc., this book is a must read, giving perhaps the broadest picture possible about why these various approaches are so necessary and providing ways for people to make connections among them.
For anyone who is a parent of a child of any age, for anyone who relates with kids of any age, and really for anyone who wants to improve their communication and their relationships in general, I highly recommend that you find an opportunity to read this book soon.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Amazing book. It's changing my way to raise my kids. Thanks a lot!Published 3 months ago by Alessandra Caprara
This book is one of my favorite parenting books along with The Science of Parenting! Would recommend both of them to all new parents. Would make a great baby shower gift!Published 3 months ago by Krista White
I can't agree with the premise of this book and I have a master's degree in clinical psychology have raised children.Published 6 months ago by Angela Roberts of Spinach Tiger
This book is great! Very interesting and well documented. It made me question a lot of what I thought I knew about parenting. I always think about this book.Published 6 months ago by Ana
I had just started to try setting limits and disciplining my toddler, finding the whole process disheartening, ineffective, and alienating, when another mother recommended this... Read morePublished 7 months ago by T. Sanchez
Mind-blowing. I saw Alfie Kohn speak, and was deeply moved by his arguments against using positive reinforcement (bribes) and "logical consequences" (punishment) as a... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Reader
I really liked the beginning of the book, but I couldn't keep it open after a while. Even without reading it I knew what he was going to write.Published 10 months ago by daniela
This book is not actually as provocative or radical as the author seems to think. It is hardly "groundbreaking", but definitely a "me too" book, on the heels of... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Amazon Customer