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Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Alfie Kohn
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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 . . .

Présentation de l'éditeur

Most parenting guides begin with the question "How can we get kids to do what they're told?"--and then proceed to offer various techniques for controlling them. In this truly groundbreaking book, nationally respected educator Alfie Kohn begins instead by asking "What do kids need--and how can we meet those needs?" What follows from that question are ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them.
One basic need all children have, 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, though, 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. This is an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts and inspire them to become better parents.

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4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 RESPIREZ! 20 mars 2011
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Livre complet sur beaucoup de questions fondamentales, lecture intellectuellement agréable (bien documenté, clair,intéressant, bien rythmé) , mais profondément remuant émotionnellement - une rude expérience de révolution intérieure, pas un livre de plage!!! A offrir partout en remplacement de fastidieuses conversations futiles sur l'éducation...
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 lecture à conseiller 5 juin 2010
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
pour tout parent, enseignant, désireux de sortir du mode punition/récompense.. très concret aussi. Je conseille vivement !
lu dans le cadre de la création de La Maison des Potentiels ([...]) à Bruxelles
Laurence Legrabd
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242 internautes sur 247 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A must read for all parents 25 février 2008
Par C. Pettis - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I was skeptical before reading this book. No time outs? No punishments, no rewards? There's a problem with praise? I was even skeptical for the first few chapters. But by the end, I was won over by the sheer amount of research backing up Kohl's parenting philosophy.

I told my husband when I finished it that I was going to try it. We were done with time outs, punishments and praise. My husband raised his eyebrows but went along. While I can't say that we've done this perfectly, the change this wrought in the behavior of our oldest (4 yrs old) was amazing. So much so that my husband said about two weeks later that whatever it was that I was doing differently, I should keep doing it. Her preschool teacher remarked that my daughter just seemed to "really change, really grow" all of a sudden. Truly, it was remarkable.

It should be noted that this is not a "how-to" book. There are not a lot of practical examples of how to parent as Kohl suggests. For this, I would suggest reading "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Faber and Mazlish (as well as their other books).

Even if you end up not agreeing with this book, I would suggest reading it since it will challenge you to think critically about what kind of children you want to raise and how they way you parent affects them.

ETA: It's now been two years since I first read this book and I would still consider this the most important, even if not most helpful, parenting book I have read. It not only transformed my parenting but it gave me tools for sorting through the mounds of often contradictory advice out there. Reading this put me on a quest to build a better, more effective parenting toolbox, and I am so grateful for having learned better ways of responding to conflicts with my children (and for seriously reducing said conflicts as well!). For books helpful in this manner, I would also recommend reading Larry Cohen's "Playful Parenting" and Mary Sheedy Kurchinka's "Kids, Parents and Power Struggles."
631 internautes sur 690 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 I have SERIOUSLY mixed feelings about this book 29 juin 2009
Par Penny Thoughtful - Publié sur
Overall, I'm glad I read it, as it is a thought-provoking read that ultimately made a better parent just by grappling with the issues it presents.

Here is what I liked about it:

Kohn emphasizes teaching empathy, teaching kids about the effects their behavior will have on OTHER people, not just on themselves; teaching kids to behave because it's the right thing to do, not out of fear of punishment or desire for reward. This is an extremely important and useful concept that many parenting books neglect.

I think many of his observations about "conditional" parenting are spot on, and things I remember painfully from my own childhood.

Everything he says is well-documented, not just his own spouting opinion. I think he is especially brave to take on race, religion and culture when he makes his assertions. I find his information about self-esteem to be particularly relevant.

I like that he allows hardworking parents to cut themselves a slice of slack. The world is not going to come to a crashing halt if your child sees you fumble. I have a three-year-old, and his advice about three-year-olds is helpful in the practical sense. There truly ARE many times when I feel like yelling at my child, "Are you dense?!" only to have Kohn's words echo back at me, "I'm not dense! I'm THREE!" A lot of this information is reassuring and helps me to be more calm and patient.

Finally, he advises parents to take his own advice with a grain of salt, something most parenting gurus won't do. He acknowledges that there are times when your child needs a bath or you need to get out of the house by a certain time and you will have to impose your will on the child and there isn't a way around that. He acknowledges that sometimes a thought experiment is just a thought experiment. I appreciate that kind of honesty.

What I didn't like:

Kohn jumps to conclusions a lot and misses some important details. For example, he says that a creative, empathetic child is better than an obedient child. Well, you know, in the long run, sure, I want my child to be creative and self-reliant and not be a "yes-child" who bows to every authority. But when she was two, I had a terrible time teaching her to walk on the side of the street instead of in the middle (no sidewalks in our neighborhood). It took many tries of picking her up and carrying her home kicking and screaming before she learned to obey me. The point is, sometimes there ARE times when you just plain want your child to obey, and when obedience is a necessary, reasonable goal in the situation. The younger the child, the more true this is, but a child of any age needs to have SOME respect for authority. Maybe not total blind obedience, but some level of acknowledgment that there are people who know more than he does whom he might just benefit from listening to.

And any parent can tell you there are some times when your kid is just plain being bratty, and you as the parent have to make him toe the line. I'm not a huge fan of time-out or punishment in general, but there are times when it IS called for, and it is not love withdrawal. Or if it is, then maybe that's what's needed to get the kid to stop being obnoxious! I feel particularly strongly about natural consequences. Kohn claims that what your child will remember is not the lesson, but that you could have helped and didn't. Well, maybe. But I'm sure all of us who had halfway decent parents will remember some times in our childhood when our parents did things we didn't like at the time, but now that we're grown, we're glad for the lessons we learned from them. My dad taught me to play the trumpet, standing behind me with his hands around my waist, making me push out his hands breathing with my diaphragm. I would never have developed good musicianship if he hadn't done that. My husband's mother used to make him cook meals from scratch AND clean up after himself. We wouldn't be as healthy if she hadn't done that. Sometimes parents have to do things that their kids are going to find jerky, or at least not helpful, at the time, but nevertheless it's necessary to do it anyway. It all depends on the individual parents and children and the situation--it's not something you can make a blanket statement about (at least not an accurate blanket statement).

I totally disagree with Kohn that being polite ("please" and "thank you") for its own sake is pointless, and most certainly will encourage a child to use those words, even if she's not old enough to talk yet and I have to say them for her. I do agree with him that the point is to make the other person feel good, not to get what you yourself want, so I won't force the issue.

Finally, I think that all of Kohn's advice on the whole carried out to its logical extreme is just impossible. It would result in mass scale brattiness that would undo all the creativity and empathy that might go along with it.

My conclusions:

I think it's best for a person to have medium self-esteem. I want my daughter to feel like a good and capable person without having an overinflated ego. I do praise her when she has done something genuinely impressive, when I think she really HAS done a good job; I would praise any friend or relative of any age in that instance. I do NOT praise her as positive reinforcement to get her to do it again, nor do I pile on empty praise to inflate her ego. I try to help her see how her actions, good and bad, affect others; but when she really is being obnoxious, I have no qualms about either letting the chips fall where they may (natural consequences) or removing either herself or myself from the situation (punishment, albeit mild punishment; "love withdrawal"). I tell her I love her even when I'm angry, but that doesn't stop me from letting her know that what she did was wrong.

I'm glad I read this book and I recommend it to anyone who can read it with an open, critical mind and find what makes sense and what applies and what doesn't.

By the way, I know some young adults who were raised this way. They did indeed "turn out well" as far as being creative and empathetic; they're nice people. But they're not doing so well on the "go-to-work-every-day-and-hold-down-a-job-in-order-to-pay-their-own-bills" front. I don't know if this is a phase they will outgrow or if maybe a little more discipline when they were younger might have helped move them along a bit.
97 internautes sur 109 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A much-needed shift in thinking about parenting 9 juillet 2006
Par Mark S. Meritt - Publié sur
This is perhaps one of the most important books I've read.

It makes a strong case for why both punishment/criticism/consequences and rewards/praise not only are ineffective in getting kids to do what we want but also cause lasting harm to kids' development. It provides many great insights toward alternatives, all flowing from the idea that we must unconditionally meet children's needs, that this is how we can give kids a solid foundation upon which to develop healthfully.

Yet the book is certainly not about being a pushover as a parent. The punishment/reward opposites it criticzes are distinguished as, themselves, just one side of another pair of dysfunctional parenting opposites. They are just different ways to use power to control kids. On the other hand is permissiveness, which is also ineffective. The book makes clear that it is both possible and necessary to be a parent, to set boundaries, and that it's simply a question of how one does so, respecting kids as human beings and seeking to work with them toward positive ends rather than do things to them that can't possibly move them toward the ends we want.

UP sheds a great amount of light on parenting, education and, if one is willing to extend its ideas, communication in general, even among adults. On top of all this, it is an easy and enjoyable read.

For those already interested in approaches such as attachment parenting, unschooling, positive discipline, etc., this book is a must read, giving perhaps the broadest picture possible about why these various approaches are so necessary and providing ways for people to make connections among them.

For anyone who is a parent of a child of any age, for anyone who relates with kids of any age, and really for anyone who wants to improve their communication and their relationships in general, I highly recommend that you find an opportunity to read this book soon.
38 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Worth reading, even if you think you don't agree 10 mars 2006
Par Kitrino - Publié sur
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I was a little hesitant about purchasing this book. I've worked with children for a good portion of my life and now have one of my own. I've always used rewards and punishments. Honestly, I really didn't know about any other way to teach children right from wrong..... until I read this book.

The first half of the book describes why punishments and rewards are so detrimental to children. I must say that while this was interesting, it certainly was long. I found myself feeling like I was reading the same thing over and over and kept wondering "Ok already, so what's the alternative?" The second half of the book dives into just that--what can you do instead of telling your child "good job" or putting them in time-out.

While I'm not sure about how well some of his suggestions would pan out with real children, it certainly was an interesting read. It definitely prompts you to re-examine everything you thought you knew about parenting. And the basic premise that everything we do as parents should teach our children that we love them unconditionally is exceptional. Even if you're not sure you agree with Kohn, I do suggest giving this book a try and broadening your perspective on how we raise our kids.
99 internautes sur 117 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Exaggerates Harm of Rewards 2 mai 2005
Par Virginia M. Shiller - Publié sur
(...) I read Mr. Kohn's book with interest and curiosity. While I am a strong believer in the usefulness of rewards in some situations, I certainly am also a proponent of using love and reason. Mr. Kohn's assertion that the use of rewards is incompatible with an approach that emphasizes love and reason perplexes me.

As a clinical psychologist who works with children and families, I strive to address complex emotional feelings and interactions rather than simply to treat superficial behavior. So I did appreciate Alfie Kohn's insistence in Unconditional Parenting on the need for parents to consider the underlying reasons for children's misbehavior. His example of allowing his four-year-old daughter the usual snuggly bedtime story despite her earlier temper tantrum, which he recognized was connected to her jealousy of her newborn brother, aptly illustrates the need to take into account situational factors in responding to children's behavior. Withdrawing his attention and refusing a bed time story (as Mr. Kohn asserts would be recommended by behavioral psychologists) would certainly only have left his daughter feeling more alone, angry, and jealous.

However, I am concerned that this book takes a quite extreme view about the use of rewards, discouraging parents from using what I consider to be at times a useful parenting tool that can help avoid stress and conflict. That said, I am actually in agreement with Mr. Kohn that some who use "behavioral" techniques (following in the footsteps of the father of behaviorism, B. F. Skinner) do employ reward plans in a manner that ignores underlying feelings and fails to include dialogue and reasoning with children.

What Mr. Kohn doesn't seem to consider is the possibility that rewards can be used in a humanistic manner, that they can be empowering of children, and that they can facilitate warm bonds between parents and children. (...)

In discussing research on use of rewards, I am concerned that Mr. Kohn fails to convey the results of the entire body of research on the effect of rewards. It is true that research (most of it coming from studies done in psychology laboratories rather than in natural settings) shows that individuals who are rewarded for doing activities that are intended to be interesting are less likely to continue doing those activities, compared to individuals who are not rewarded. But, this finding does not extend to activities that children don't find interesting. Nor does it appear to apply to individuals who have a history of not succeeding at tasks. In my experience, it is a rare parent who even thinks of using rewards for an activity that the child already enjoys doing! It is in the mundane activities such as getting children to brush teeth, get organized and out of house in the morning, apply themselves to studying multiplication tables, and so on, that rewards can be useful in helping motivate children to do things they don't like to do. I believe that in the process of earning strategically chosen rewards (e.g. enrollment in an exciting computer class after successfully memorizing multiplication tables), children can come to see the benefits of mastering the less interesting tasks of life.

Positive aspects of this book include Mr. Kohn's plea to parents to think about long-term objectives and to avoid pushing children too hard to succeed at goals that parents deem important. I also very much agree with the way he urges parents to encourage children to problem-solve about how to resolve difficulties.

Children certainly benefit when parents respect their need for autonomy, love them despite their mistakes, and strive to develop children's ability to use reasoning to overcome problems. However, there is no "one size fits all" approach to parenting. Children have distinctly different personalities, and my clinical practice as well as my personal experience raising two sons has taught me that some children respond to reasoning better than others. Parents need to decide for themselves what approaches help them to be positive, loving parents. They shouldn't feel it necessary to stick to a single predetermined philosophy.
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