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Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason Paperback – 6 Apr 2006

50 customer reviews

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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: 14 x 1.8 x 21.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Synopsis

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

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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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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By M Tsun on 3 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
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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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Bumbledeb on 31 July 2006
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By AC on 2 Jun. 2015
Format: Paperback
I loved the central ideas in this book and it did give me a lot of pause for thought but I felt the book is very heavy on the what not to do and very light on the what to do instead. I agree wholeheartedly that bribery, threats and punishments are not the right way to bring up children and that of course children will thrive if they feel loved for who they are and their views are accepted. However, I just ended up feeling very inadequate after finishing the book and I've definitely been reduced to tears on a few occasions while reading it - mostly because I feel bad about not being the parent described in the book and I would love to be. It's not that I don't try but I have 3 small children who are all close in age and trying to take all their needs into consideration and reason with them is literally impossible. They quite often all want different things all at the same time so whose needs do you prioritise?! If one sits down on the pavement and refuses to walk, we could do as the book suggests and wait with her until she is ready to go again but then the other two would start wailing as they want to go straight to the park. Sometimes one child has to do something they don't want for the good of the others but I couldn't see anything in the book to help work out what to do in such a situation. I noticed with interest that although Alfie Kohn has 3 children himself there are big age gaps between them, plus he and his wife both seem to have jobs which mean they are around at home a lot. I'm not sure how a single parent of multiple children could entirely follow this approach.

So, what I have taken from the book is that the ideas are really thought provoking and I need to incorporate more of this into my parenting. The problem is that the book has left me with little idea of how to practically do this. I'm amazed to see so many 5 star reviews, how on earth are the rest of you managing to put it all into practice!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By mmisl on 13 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is an extremely thought-provoking book. It offers a different way of parenting for those people who are not sure about time out etc, but perhaps can't quite put their finger on what bothers them about it. The idea that praise and punishment are two sides of the same coin and that they are equally damaging is hard to take, but AK's argument, to me, was very persuasive.

Unfortunately I've found it extremely hard to break the praising habit. It feels like you are not being appreciative. Especially when your child is v small and everything they do is new and exciting, it is hard not to say well done, good boy etc. That is one area that the book falls down a little - there aren't very many examples of what you can do instead of praising.

Also, I've found that it brought out some strong feelings about my own childhood and how my parents interacted with me - I don't want to make the same mistakes and hopefully reading this book will help me raise a confident son, who knows that he is always loved no matter what.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Richie C on 11 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
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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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By trikolka on 10 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
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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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By C. Groves on 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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