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Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason [Paperback]

Alfie Kohn
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.99
Price: 8.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; 1st Atria Books Trade Pbk. Ed edition (6 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743487486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743487481
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.1 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This book presents a provocative challenge to the conventional wisdom of raising children. 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 with regards raising children. Kohn, the father of young children himself, 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, brides 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, humour and, as a last resort, a restorative time away (not a punitive time-out).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
I have sometimes derived comfort from the idea that, despite all the mistakes I've made (and will continue to make) as a parent, my children will turn out just fine for the simple reason that I really love them. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
75 of 78 people found the following review helpful
By M Tsun
Like most parents, I have tried star-charts, time-outs, naughty chair, sticker books, you name it. But at the back of my mind there had always been a niggling feeling that these traditional 'methods' were not the right way forward. Unconditional Parenting gave me the power to question those traditional beliefs and the tools to work with my child, to treat him with the respect and unconditional love that every child deserves. So often we enter into parenthood weighted down by our past - how we were treated by our parents. I'm so glad to be able to break that cycle. Read this book and stop treating your children as enemies who must be tamed and controlled.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Alfie Kohn uses real research to back up his conclusions. The book is very readable and easy to understand but the ideas it contains could very well change your life and your children's lives. Very highly recommended by someone who has read a LOT of parenting books and has never before felt compelled to recommend one.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed my life 18 May 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is no exaggeration to say that this book has changed my life by allowing me to understand things that I found extremely difficult in the way that I was parented and helping me to trust my own instincts when bringing up my son. It is true that the book is light on practical examples - for these read 'The Smart Love Parent' by Pieper and Pieper - however I needed to read Alfie Kohn first in order to understand the reasons behind taking an approach that goes against so many things that we are taught to take for granted about parenting. Every parent should read this. There is so much information in here that will change the way you look at your relationship with your child. I cannot recommend this highly enough.
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46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars find out why rewarding is as bad as punishment 10 Jan 2007
I was given this book to read by a friend of mine who reads all parenting and birthing and other children related books, and I mean all of them, all she can lay her hands on :) This she recommended as an absolute must and now after reading it, I agree with her. Alfie Kohn tells not only about why punishment is wrong (even such punishment we do not call punishment, because we are those parents who do not punish their kids, right). He also tells, and more importantly in my opinion, why praise and rewarding in the classical way is equally bad for your child. Obviously he offers alternatives and also admits that pitfalls lay ahead of each parent, him including.

Read it. It is liberating.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Half way through. 11 Dec 2012
By jess
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book describes a very different way of raising children to the one most of us are familiar with.
It takes the view that punishment & rewards, from time outs & smacking, to stickers and praise (there's a fine line between praise and encouragement apparently) are detrimental to a child's progression to becoming a well rounded and happy adult.
It's about changing your behaviour as the parent rather than that of your child.
I think ultimately Kohn's ideas are the difference between getting your child to do X, Y or Z because you told them to and they fear or relish the consequences. To your child doing X, Y or Z because they genuinely want to and if they don't do X or Y does it really matter?
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars empowering and humane parenting book 10 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
this book has prompted my first book review. i am a parent and a family worker and this book distils all that i have learned through experience, and backs it up with research. it challenges the idea of parenting your children as if they were laboratory animals which has felt wrong to me for a long time. although the alternative methods cannot be made into simplistic A4 handouts for parents so will not please many who work in this field, it legitimises those of us who encourage humane and empowering parenting.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed the way I parent 11 Aug 2006
I have found this book fascinating and its really changed the way I parent. The 'using any method to get children to behave' principle is ingrained in our culture but the author argues very convincingly that this is very shortsighted.

Has really helped me view what I am doing with my children in another light and changed what I do
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eye Opener 29 Jan 2010
By Linda
This book really made my sit back and consider the approach I have been taking with my childrens up-bringing. I read it twice within 2 weeks ... first time because I was so enthralled ... second time to really digest his ideas. I will definitely be taking (baby) steps towards being a better mom as a result of this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing!
This book is life changing. At first I simply didn't agree with the statements, and I couldn't let go of the idea of time out and positive reinforcements being 'bad' for children. Read more
Published 7 days ago by V. Brummer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my absolute favourite parenting books.
This book really made me re-evaluate everything I took for granted about parenting - in particular the assumption that children's behaviour should be shaped using rewards and... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Change your life
I love this book. Since my first daughter's toddler days I had felt uncomfortable about the Supernanny approach that everyone around me seemed to be shackled to. Read more
Published 2 months ago by AJTown
5.0 out of 5 stars 'the way to handle a child is to love it, love it......
A well written passionate account of how to bring up children not with a focus on good behave just now, but to develop their mental capacities both moral and intellectual to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Elizabeth Webster
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I was looking to enhance my relationship with my children so it doesn't become a power struggle and we can form a loving relationship into the futire without adversary (a tall... Read more
Published 7 months ago by mumofbubs
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Have been intending to read this for years, and it's definitely met my expectations. While I knew some of the general topics from blog posts, there's so much more in the book. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Alice Cann
3.0 out of 5 stars good but hard to live up to
I hope to grow into this - at the moment it just makes me cry because I'm not a nice enough parent!
Published 11 months ago by A. Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book but not quite what I wanted
Alfie Kohn has some good ideas and I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he said, but I felt it lacked a little in applying to real life and it came across as a little preachy... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Tiredmom
5.0 out of 5 stars Most valueble book ever!
When me and My husvagns firat heard about Alfie Kohn and what he ess reavinst we weren't sure since It's basically just the opposite from what supernanny and others teach. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Crinoline
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
Reading this book was amazing. I absolutely love Alfie Kohn and everything he stands for. If you're thinking of buying this book, DO!
Published 12 months ago by Helen Whitehead
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