Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason Paperback – 3 May 2018
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"Powerful alternatives to help children become their most caring, responsible selves." -- Adele Faber, coauthor of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen . . .
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). See all Product description
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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.
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.
The essence of this book lies in the beautiful idea it presents. A definite eye-opener. A brilliant read.
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