Unconditional Parenting offers parents one of the most complete research results on the effect of punishments and on the importance of unconditional love in the parent-child relationship. To understand better what this book is all about, here are some interesting extracts from Alfie Kohn’s conference. (sorry about the sound, it pretty weak, so you will need to boost your volume).
Operating on auto-parent. Parenting like our parents parented:
Is positive reinforcement really positive?
Too much control on parenting in our society?
A provocative challenge to the conventional wisdom on parenting
One of the very best book ever writen about parenting, Unconditional Parenting is the book to read for parents who want to understand the tremendous negative impact much of our taken-for-granted, old-school parenting method have on our children. Be prepared for a “Provocative challange”, as the author himself warns us, as this might be a difficult read for parents who never questioned how they were raised before.
• Here is the official review from Publishers Weekly:
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.
• Here is an excellent book review written by reader from Amazon:
In struggling to deal with my strong-willed 4-year-old daughter, I kept upping the ante, usually by yelling louder and coming up with more creative consequences. There were lots of “successes” but her outbursts at home seemed more desperate. Something in my gut said this just isn’t working — like I was getting her compliance at the expense of her self-esteem. I read Unconditional Parenting and the subtle concerns I had were in this book. Besides providing the history of time-outs, the author provides insights on common North American parenting strategies (rewards, punishments, “say, ‘I’m sorry, Billy'”, “say, ‘Thank you'”, “Ooo, what a pretty picture”), then provides a common sense look at who kids really are and what’s behind our current style.
Here was the seed for how I could guide my daughter without trying to manipulate her, and keep my respect and love for her intact. And I was shocked as it inadvertently explained the origin of issues I’m facing as an adult and the parenting I received that coincide with these. My husband and I started using concepts in the book and were much happier with the results we got with our daughter — not compliance, but solutions that we chose together, leaving her with a genuine smile, and a sense of peace for us. But this is not a “do this” book. It’s common sense and inspirational, and our change in approach fell immediately out of it.
So, after several weeks, I plan to re-read this book, be re-inspired, and see if we can stride further. I hope to see more from this author and more on this style of parenting. I think this is the start of the future of North American parenting, with the goal on teaching children how to make decisions, and parents being able to sleep nights with our integrity intact.
Here is an interview with Alfie Kohn.