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Unconditional Parenting

Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
Written by: Alfie Kohn
Narrated by: Alfie Kohn
Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

One basic need all children have, educator Alfie Kohn argues, is to be loved unconditionally, to know that they will be accepted even if they screw up or fall short. Yet conventional approaches to parenting such as punishments (including "time outs"), rewards (including positive reinforcement), and other forms of control teach children that they are loved only when they please us or impress us. Kohn cites a body of powerful and largely unknown research detailing the damage caused by leading children to believe they must earn our approval. That's precisely the message children derive from common discipline techniques, even though it's not the message most parents intend to send.

More than just another book about discipline, Unconditional Parenting addresses the ways parents think about, feel about, and act with their children. It invites them to question their most basic assumptions about raising kids while offering a wealth of practical strategies for shifting from "doing to" to "working with" parenting - including how to replace praise with the unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people.

©2005 Alfie Kohn (P)2016 Tantor

What members say

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Every Parent Should Read This!

This book was funny, eye opening, practical and not preachy about parenting styles. By putting other styles of parenting under a microscope, you're forced to really look at what kind of parent you are and how to become the one you want to be. A must read for every parent!

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  • Heather
  • 2016-08-18

Best parenting book I've read!

Funny, practical, filled with anecdotes and puns between research and a lot of reality checks. It just makes scary sense. I wish the whole world could get this as a required course for having kids and getting into a relationship. The world would be a better place. No scripts for when child said A you say B, but an entire paradigm shift about what you really want your child to become and whether your immediate B will even get you there. This is a total wakeup call, even if you think you're on the right track. We parents can always learn a little more and do a little better so our kids end up stronger, more empathetic as well as independent and healthy.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Csos
  • 2016-10-06

Amazing book!

I have read tons of parenting books and this is the only one that really seems to have the best interest of the child in mind. I am more of an authoritarian parent and it has really opened up my eyes on how punishments and rewards are perceived by my children. This book has finally explained to me in a way that I can understand why not every wrong doing should have a consequence. My children are happier and so am I.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Katie
  • 2019-06-20

Liberating!

I won't sugar coat it, this book will feel like a punch in the gut at first. I have been gentle/positive parenting for a number of years and when I first started reading this it felt like a nasty blow that some of my more gentle approaches were still part of the problem in our family. My son has OCD and anxiety. I stuck with it, listening to Alfie's suggestions. As I have been applying these practices in my own life and with my children my son's OCD symptoms have dropped dramatically! I feel like I have my son back. We laughed together for the past week without any anxious meltdowns and minimal ocd rituals. I highly recommend listening to this book along with 'Non-Violent Communication'. I feel empowered as a parent and love that I get empower my children and witness them growing and flourishing. One day they will be parents and will get to be even better with their children.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • nycgirl
  • 2016-11-22

Pretty solid stuff here

I enjoyed it. I already had an idea as to what works for my 7 year old, but this confirms it even more. Writer isn't boring with his voice and really gives you some Ah Ha moments. Love that.

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  • Sid Horadagoda
  • 2017-02-28

Eye opening, great audio.

Really enjoyed this book. Lots of studies quoted. A must read for those of us living in the west

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • arienschatzi
  • 2019-06-10

Fabulous!

It really makes you think and analyze your beliefs and behaviors. The world NEEDS this!

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  • Victoria
  • 2019-03-17

a must read for anyone who takes care of kids

this book manages to explain, in a very accessable way, how our behavior and reactions effect the children we interact with.
I think the advices or approach discussed in this book will be as effective for babies, and toddlers as it will be for teenagers.
gave me a better understanding of what kind of parent I want my child to have.

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  • Kristof Heyndrikx
  • 2019-01-02

Get better children now!

If you don't want to read this book for yourself, you should do it for your children. I recognize a lot of the advice that Alfie Kohn gives from my own parents, who are about the best you can have in the world. But Alfie Kohn really shows what you can do in difficult situations.

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  • Todd H.
  • 2018-11-13

Great insight for parenting

The author provides abundant evidence that hitting (and other punitive punishments) is not helpful when it comes to settling conflict that caregivers will encounter with children. Kohn suggests that this parenting style will be difficult but in the end we owe it to children and to ourselves to take a more respectful and collaborative approach. I don't entirely agree that praising children should be removed from the equation.

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  • RS Reviews
  • 2018-11-01

This book changed my life and it will change yours

If you allow yourself to listen to this book without preconception it will change your life. Thankfully, I stumbled upon this book when my first son was still very young. It confirmed every single thing I kept feeling about how to parent him well. Things that flew in the face of public opinion.

To parent well we must really think about what we want our children to become and do our very best to use that as a compass to navigate the millions of hard moments. There’s a reflex in all of us that wants to respond out of fear and enforce obedience, but if we can’t teusy ourselves and the remarkable humans we are raising, a realizion comes. When we approach parenting from a place of knowing we are raising the most extroudinary humans in existence, that is who they will be come. When we realize just how amazing we are we won’t feel the need to make fear based parenting crackdowns. We will be OK with the unknown because of the larger known truth that we are confident in our love and self awareness of ourselves and those same things that we are imparting to our children.

I will forever be greatful for this life changing book.