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4.4 out of 5 stars53
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2008
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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on 31 July 2006
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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on 10 January 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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on 24 March 2010
I am reading this book for the second time... the first time I found it so challenging and confronting that it made me really defensive and angry. I put it away for a few months then started it again... I guess the information has been sinking in over the past few months because the second time around it is a whole new story!!! I cant praise it highly enough, it is such a wonderful insightful book and has totally changed my parenting and relationships with my children. I agree with Alfie 100% and just wish I had read this when my children were babies. All the other books I read and parenting counsellors I spoke to really guided me toward the traditional ways of parenting which just never worked in having the relationship I desired to have with my children. I wish everyone would read this and I believe if all parents and teachers discarded the traditional ways of relating to and punishing children etc the world would be transformed. My husband has also been using this in relating to the children he teachers and has been seeing incredible changes!! I hope that if you buy this and find it challenging you will give it another shot because I truly believe this is the most wonderful parenting book!
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on 11 August 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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on 5 July 2014
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. What this book did was help me to put into words what my instincts were telling me: that my child was a person in her own right and that control did not need to be the bedrock of our relationship. Kohn's ideas can be challenging and there are no hard and fast rules but his approach has the potential to change the emotional landscape of family life. I have passed this book to many people and realised that it's not for everyone: in our current culture rewards and sanctions are seen as a universally true to many. However, I have also seen that people often come around, albeit sometimes slowly. I would recommend this book for anyone who is prepared to change themselves, and their understanding of human relationships, as a means to improving their family life. If you are not happy to be challenged, however, then approach with caution!
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on 25 June 2013
I have been on a bit of a roller coaster since reading this book. and have managed to bring my opinion round in a full circle!
I was at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with my 3 year olds daily acts of defiance and felt a bit lacking in control. Up until quite recently, we actually hadn't needed an awful lot of "discipline" so to speak, our daughter has been fairly amenable and laid back. But NOT NOW!
So i got this book on suggestion from a forum, and at first i wanted to throw it straight in the bin! It seemed pretty irritating in its idealised view of parenting and i wasn't really agreeing with it. BUT then i read a bit more and it really started to open my eyes as to just how punishment can (perhaps) be perceived by the sprung up loads of questions for me as to whether harsh punishments actually work in TEACHING a child a moral lesson or what is deemed "acceptable behaviour"

The part about rewards i totally agree with, as to say to a child "if your are really well behaved, we will get you an ice cream!" i just think this encourages the wrong kind of self motivation and makes the child think of selfish gains he can get by "behaving" in a certain way. Id rather just treat my girl to something every now and again just because i love her and its a nice thing to do.

The general concept of this approach, is that punishment and consequences are not affective in teaching a child how to BE a nice/compassionate/caring/sharing person. The alternative generally, is to talk to your child, explaining just why its bad to hit (for example) but not to punish them as this could lead to a child feeling that they are not "acceptable" when they are behaving in a negative way. and that in turn, leads to an adult who also, doesn't accept themselves and doesn't deal we;l with negative emotions. To condense the concept, we need to "work with" instead of "Do to"

SO.....i tried this approach with my daughter. I hoped that if i showed her respect, gave her lots of choices to empower her, and instead of punishing, i explained in a (sometimes stern voice) why it wasn't ok to do x,y or z.
At first, she responded in a really positive way! I found it easier to get her to co-operate in the daily routine of dressing, teeth cleaning etc and she seemed more polite, affectionate and i was really really pleased!

BUT after a few weeks, it really did all seem to go pear shaped. I was going blue in the face trying to coerce her into getting dressed, every response was "in a minute!" and all of a sudden i was facing a very autonomous child who was TOO BIG FOR HER THREE YEAR OLD BOOTS! This is no exaggeration and i was really struggling. and if anyone is wondering if id been TOO permissive and allowed her free reign - i had NOT. I really do have a good head on my shoulders, i approached it with a good balance of everything this book suggests.

The biggest flaw in this approach is that it fails to address just HOW you are supposed to deal with a simple and very regular act of toddler defiance. Im not talking about deep rooted behavioural issues, there is NO OTHER reason my daughter is acting defiantly other than the fact she just doesn't want to do things when i ask! and because i had been "working with", there haven't been any consequences to face. But i have still ended up with a child who is WAY too full of herself and her own assertiveness was getting completely out of hand. She has also been hitting me far more than before, which is just plain worrying.

Since this meltdown moment, i have adopted a balance of having non-negotiable limits on certain things, with plenty of choices, respect and love - wherever possible and appropriate for her age. The hitting results in time out and any aggressive behaviour will have the same limit because its just not ok to vent frustrations in this way. I may encourage her to go hit a pillow if she's angry! and after the time-out, when things have calmed down, i talk to her in a relaxed, non confrontational way about what happened and how we can move forward.
a 3 year old can ONLY deal with so much freedom and also they can only take in a certain amount of talking as their attention span is limited. otherwise, they push and push limits, until you quite literally snap and then what? there HAS to be a consequence at the end of it!
As she gets older, i will adapt and give her more choices etc, but right now, clear boundaries are necessary.

Another flaw is that is suggests things which i find quite ridiculous and totally un called for - when dealing with a young child like mine. it suggested changing your schedule to make daily routines easier for the child. it also said if it causes less friction, let your child sleep in their school uniform! Why on earth should i have to change my schedule to accommodate the drawn out affair of getting my daughter dressed in the morning?! it would just taken even longer if i did! Life really doesn't work like that and although my child IS the most important thing in my life, she also needs to understand that the world doesn't stop just because she desperately wants to read a book when im trying to leave the house and that certain things are expected from her, without negotiation.

So despite all the negatives above, i WOULD recommend reading this book because its very easy to digest, and has some great points to make regarding the psychology of children and how you communicate with them makes a big difference in their development BUT you should really consider finding a balance that works for you, cos at the end of the day do you want a child/adult who walks all over you and is so full of their own autonomy? i imagine not....
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on 27 March 2012
Like another reviewer i'm on my second reading of this brave and revolutionary book. It's by far the best book on parenting I have ever read and it's really quite a poke in the eye for our culturally conditioned thinking.
Anybody who would like to change the world for the better should read this and then lend it to friends and family.
If you know people with fixed, unmoving paradigms on the world and the way it works then they will surely struggle to accept the concepts presented in this book. If however, you remain open to the incredible creative power of humanity to change for the better move towards a brighter more collaborative future then this can only help you and all of us, along the path to being civilized. A wonderful book.
Once you are done reading Alfie Kohn's book, please watch an amazing film called "The Economics Of Happiness".
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on 13 June 2011
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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on 5 June 2008
I really liked the central concept of the book, that is you should love your child unconditionally, success or failure, naughty or good, and that the child should know that they are loved unconditionally so that they can grow up secure. However I was very disappointed with the actual substance about the nitty gritty daily life and how you manage things. There were lots of don'ts - don't praise your child when they've been good, don't punish them when they've been bad - but I felt it was lacking on the what you are supposed to do.
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