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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 (12 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

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    3 out of 5 stars

Comes across preachy, not helpful.

I'm an avid listener of "Repectful Parenting" books on audible. though this title is definitely heading in the direction of that and is over all based on respecting our young, I find the author lingers to long on the negatives as opposed to offering solutions to traditional parenting. to be frank, this book is a bummer. I made it half way through and have decided I'm done. It may be for some, but not for me.

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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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  • 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.

2 of 2 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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  • Ty and Alex
  • 2018-05-05

A different, more effective lens for parenting

A wonderful change of perspective on how the traditional "common sense" approach to parenting is probably causing just as many problems as it solves.

As a father of 4 kids under age 7, Unconditional Parenting caused some uncomfortable moments of reflection. However, the overall message is optimistic and positive, and the changes in approach are easy to practice. I enthusiastically recommend this to parents of children at any age, but the earlier the better.

My only critique of the book has to do with structure, not substance. The book spends a great deal of time reviewing how common parenting practices are ineffective in creating the long-term characteristics we want in our kids (kindness, empathy, patience, persistence, Independence, etc.). The chapters are well written and well argued, but the reader must make it through half of the book being told how and why the way we parent is well intended but probably wrong before the positive approaches recommended by the author are explained in detail. As a reader/listener, this made it difficult to persevere as I questioned my self image as a good father, and I did leave the book unfinished for a long period before returning to it and finishing. The benefits of finishing are worth it, but it seems that balancing discussion of why common practices do not work with explaination of the recommended alternative practices within each chapter would, at least for me, have helped to keep me engaged and encouraged.

Great book that should be required reading for any new parent

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • amberdallas33
  • 2018-03-10

He doesn’t think much of parents

I wanted to like this book. Kohn seems to love and respect children and makes some interesting points about the dangers of dominating your child. He doesn’t seem to have the same respect for parents, however, who love and KNOW their own children. He makes a lot of good observations about the failings of modern discipline and I kept waiting to hear some ideas that would work. Instead I heard him insult religion in an arrogant and incredibly ignorant way, and draw conclusions out of thin air. He uses a mocking tone when voicing parents’ concerns and (although I admit I didn’t quite make it to the end) seems to think you can work everything out with your child simply by talking through it and saying yes as much as possible. His methods might work for some, but they certainly won’t work for all, and while I am as soft and loving a mama as it gets, I will not be treating my children as my equal any time soon. They need me and my husband to use our own wisdom drawn from experience to set boundaries and guide them into adulthood. I trust us a lot more than Alfie Kohn does.

3 of 4 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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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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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  • vitalii
  • 2019-11-16

Thought-provoking book

Very interesting approach, many things to think about and maybe even use. The most important to me that author tries to use data and common sense to support his opinion.

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  • Runelvi De La Rosa
  • 2019-11-15

Mind shifting

This book is great. This book helped me change my mind about what is truly important when it comes to parenting. Unconditional love can be shown in many ways. Thank you Alfie Khon .

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  • Allison Eidam
  • 2019-09-30

Very Inspiring and Thought Provoking

Lots of details and research listed on WHY you should be an unconditional loving parent. Also explaing the theory behind it and how it is a better alternitive than traditional or authoratative methods. Stating the Why's very clearly on how Gentle parenting is misunderstood and misrepresented. Gives different examples and guidelines toward the end of the book. Very Montessori & RIE aligned IMO.