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Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason Paperback – March 1, 2006
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About the Author
- Publisher : Atria Books; 1st edition (March 1, 2006)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0743487486
- ISBN-13 : 978-0743487481
- Item Weight : 8.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #15,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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This book is not about quick fixes, or easy strategies to get your child to "behave". It's about avoiding punishments and bribes that result only in "short term compliance at an extremely high cost", and opting for an approach of working with your child, instead. The second part of his book discusses in great length, with examples, ways that we can work with our children.
I don't agree completely with Kohn's removal of all parental praise - when his daughter climbed the stairs for the first time, he didn't applaud or freak out, he just said matter of factly "you did it". I'm more in the exuberant praise for major accomplishments category. However, I found his argument against using praise as a means of control extremely compelling. Don't praise your kid overly for putting his jacket on, because you want him to keep getting himself ready for school. Do celebrate (in my opinion) your children's accomplishments that they're proud of by sharing in their joy and applauding them also.
If I could get every parent to read this book, I would. I am so grateful that I discovered Alfie Kohn's work when my sons were preschool age. I believe this could help me raise resilient kids who feel loved, who trust me to be on their side, and who are at lower risk for dangerous behaviors as teenagers because they've had an opportunity to learn the real consequences of actions - not that mom or dad will be mad, but that now something is broken and needs to be repaired, or they may have to choose a different college, or mom was up late worrying because they weren't home. Punishments and bribes obscure the real reason we should do something, make our kids feel conditionally loved, and don't have positive long-term impacts on behavior.
Top reviews from other countries
All of its conclusions are based on hard evidence.
Sadly I only came across this very recently and not 7 years ago. Had I come across this earlier, it would have channelled my energy used for punishing, for more useful interactions with my children such as helping them understand the emotions inside them and help them express their feelings differently and in better, non-aggressive ways which won't hurt others. Instead of spending time on supervising my children completing their 'time out' time or thinking up 'consequences' to punish them, I should have invested in more emotionally productive means such as conversations to help make children empathetic to the feelings of others, to create moral awareness, to help them to feel responsible for their actions and most of all, to help deal with anger and aggression. Instead, i have involuntarily fuelled aggression, frustration and hatred. And definitely not stimulated self-reflection. 'Punishment breads misbehaviour' and 'Rewards are counterproductive’.
This book entirely questions the way we have been raised and the strategies we apply - punishment and rewards - in order to excise control over our children and use power and pressure to make children obey and comply in the short run. This book explains why these strategies are not only questionable but why they don't work and why they're even counterproductive. Based on trials and research this book demonstrates in excellent ways its core theory and concludes important arguments against ‘conditional parenting'. We do not want children who are obedient out of pressure and out of fear of loosing love, and without a sense of self. We all want moral, independent individuals who have the ability to be proud of them from the inside and who don’t depend on external praise. We want people who don’t comply blindly. This book is NOT an invitation to anti-authoritarian parenting but an invitation to be permissive of the feelings of children, not of the actions. It's very much the school of thought as Haim Ginott’s 'Parent and Child'. Treat kids with love and attention. You can not spoil them. The more you show understanding for children, the more desirable the outcome.
This book looks at the core of issues of kids: to identify their feelings and to help them express these in better ways, ways that are not hurtful to others, neither emotionally nor physically. The book looks at the heart of the problem of misbehaviour: feelings that come out wrongly and unpredictibally. Feelings that have been suppressed and not dealt with before. This book is in every sense the opposite of how I was brought up or from what I've read and seen such as 'Supernanny' and other common parenting informations that have lead me into a wrong direction. It is going to be a hard journey to change my own conditioned behaviour so drastically.
Everything in this book confirms the secret fears of every parent, of raising children wrongly. And this is hard to admit to oneself. For a many parents this book is likely to be too radical. I'm hopeful it’s not too late for my children.
It’s sad that too many parents pay more attention to social media, shopping, and acquisition of stuff than the all important task of tearing healthy balanced children.
Other reviewers have said how it has changed their lives, and that if their children, for the better.
We are embarking on that journey, but I’ve seen the results with a personal friend. His wife refused to change her authoritarian ways, my friend did everything to encourage otherwise.
Post divorce, his daughter rejected the mother in favour of the dad. She is, without doubt, one of the most confident, rounded, and interesting children I know, and her school reports shine as a testament to her character.
Read this book with an open mind. It’s challenging, but raising children was never easy. This approach pays dividends.
The only thing I disagreed with us that while it does challenge how a lot of how religion has been interpreted, I think it's a perfect mirror of how God treats his people in the Bible. The principles of unconditional love could have been lifted directly from it's pages. Indeed it made me think again about the nature of God's unconditional love towards us.
Kohn sets out to show how popular parenting manuals encourage a very behaviourist, transactional approach to dealing with children which may induce good behaviour in the short term out of fear or promise of reward, but teaches children nothing in terms of loving relationships, their own identity and empathy with others, their own moral growth. It is scary to think that chlidren who are rewarded for sharing with others become less naturally willing to share, among many other deleterious effects of a purely transactional approach.
The most damaging impact he sets out is that of a child's inability to build solid attachments - known to be key to development for 50 years.
His alternative is to ask parents whether they need to be so controlling of all aspects of children's behaviour, are there not a lot of times when even small children can be offered structured choices for example, so that they learn to establish their own preferences, and have their own identity respected. When they do misbehave, parents should ensure that any discussion/comment/reprimand comes after proof of parents' love for the child - there must be no 'time out of parental affection'..
A helpful text for dealing with children and requires consistent application to get to the point that the few times you do need to require immediate compliance, you are more likely to get it as the child knows you do not talk like that all the time and is used to having to think about what you say rather than just jump to attention.
Many parents, educators and employers will recognise the results of 'hot house; schooling where all the emphasis is on getting the marks required for college entry and none on intellectual discovery, experimenting with different aspects and so learning what types of work and study are so attractive that a student would really wish to devote their lives to developing their capacities in those areas...
This is a passionate polemic and it paints a very negative picture of parenting by the manuals which promote transactional approaches to raising children. Let us hope for all our sakes that parents who love their children so much, do not manage to be so transactional much of the time and that children can see their natural birthright to parental love shining through, enabling them to grow up happy and to full capacity. But following Kohn would be a better idea.