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Old 06-25-2012, 01:37 PM   #1
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Exclamation Updated with more info-Just wanted to share this parenting philosophy

Since we had DD2, DD1 has gone from an easygoing toddler to a clingy and argumentative. I have considered so many strategies from time outs, positive reinforcement, etc. I really was feeling desperate as I searched through my Nook to find a parenting book with a philosophy that made sense to me. Then I came across the book Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. I remember the author from some articles I read in my teacher education and I agreed with so much of what he wrote then. His philosophies are pretty controversial because they are completely opposite of how most people (including me) are taught and raised.

So in the introduction I literally smacked my forehead and thought "why didn't I realize this before?" I think the quote that summed it up for me was "amazingly well-behaved children do what their parents want them to become, but often at the price of losing a sense of themselves." I completely related to this idea because I was that "well-behaved" child, and I'm still struggling with my sense of identity so much as an adult. I don't want to do that to my children.

Alfie Kohn then goes on to describe how so much of our love and attention requires that our child(ren) behave in the way we want them to, or we withhold that love and attention and/or include punishment. He proposes that our love and attention should be unconditional. I found myself nodding my head and highlighting lots of passages throughout the book. It has completely changed the way I think about myself and my parenting. I have tried some strategies from this book already and I have to say, it's been so nice to stop worrying so much about getting DD to "listen" and "behave." He also offers alternatives to traditional parenting strategies that make a ton of sense to me.

I just wanted to offer this in case anyone out there is like me, and is struggling to find a parenting philosophy that works. I would recommend this book to anyone.

A lot of you had questions and wanted more info. I think the best thing is to read the book because it has SO much to read and think about. But here's the basis of the book.

Part 1 is about the traditional parenting methods and why basically, we put conditions on our love and attention for our children. He does include research as to why his assertions are true, but does not go into major specifics while discussing the research.

Part 2 is about his parenting theory, which he calls unconditional parenting. He does not give any concrete advice such as "if this happens, do this." He has a more broad set of standards which are:

1. Be reflective. Basically, you constantly evaluate what you do and say as a parent. He says "most of us would benefit by spending more time reviewing what we've done with our children in order to be better parents tomorrow than we are today."

2. Reconsider your requests. Are they age appropriate, necessary, etc.

3. Keep your eye on your long term goals. Instead of focusing on making your children do what you say, focus on helping them become independent, compassionate people.

4. Put the relationship first. My favorite quote is "being right isn't necessarily what matters."

5. Change how you see, not just how you act. This basically means, don't assume your child's intentions are to misbehave or upset you.

6. RESPECT. Validate their feelings, beliefs, opinions, and needs.

7. Be authentic. Don't pretend to be above them. If you make a mistake, own up to it and apologize. Admit when you don't know, are tired, sad, etc.

8. Talk less, ask more. Ex: if there is a problem, figure out the source by asking questions.

9. Keep their ages in mind. Some of our requests are just not age appropriate.

10. Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts. This means, as long as there is no information to prove otherwise, we are to assume that the child's motives are NOT negative. This allows us to avoid self-fulfilling prophecies. Ex: "Oh you think I'm bad? Let me show you how bad I can be"

11. Don't stick your no's in unnecessarily. Try not to say "no" unless it's necessary. He leaves this open to our interpretation as parents but says "my recommendation is to say yes whenever possible. This should be the default response, such that you need a good reason not to go along with what's being proposed, or to step in and forbid something."

I say, get the book if this sounds AT ALL like something that you believe. It has tremendously reduced the stress in parenting for me. And my DD is so much happier and easygoing again. I think that now that the power struggles are gone, our relationship has become so much more positive.


Lucky to be Brian's wife
and mama to Nora (3 years) and Lucy (11 months)
Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.
~Mae West

Last edited by GreenDahlia; 06-27-2012 at 01:59 PM. Reason: Add new information
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:06 PM   #2
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:17 PM   #3
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Sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing mama.
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:35 PM   #4
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Re: Just wanted to share this parenting philosophy

I would like to know more about it!

Can you tell us or is there a website?
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:42 PM   #5
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Re: Just wanted to share this parenting philosophy

I'd like to hear more too!
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:00 PM   #6
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Re: Just wanted to share this parenting philosophy

Makes sense to me
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:23 PM   #7
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Re: Just wanted to share this parenting philosophy

Good to know. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:32 PM   #8
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Re: Just wanted to share this parenting philosophy

I Alfie Kohn. I used a lot of his ideas with DS1.
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:37 PM   #9
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Interesting, I'll have to check it out. I always try to let my girls know that our love is never dependent on good behavior, and don't consider refusals as 'disrespect worthy of punishment'. I want them to grow into strong, independent women who know thier feelings and opinions are always important.
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Old 06-25-2012, 07:06 PM   #10
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Re: Just wanted to share this parenting philosophy

I would like to know more too. I agree to let them be themselves, but still want them to fit into society as teachers etc. will not be so understanding as I am. It's facinating though!
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