Unconditional Parenting

Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason
Narrated by: Alfie Kohn
Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (364 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 listeners say about Unconditional Parenting

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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.

7 people found this helpful

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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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

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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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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.

3 people found this helpful

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The best book on parenting I've read

As a mental health professional, you'd think that I would already know much of the information in this book. but this book for me was groundbreaking. While I have had a considerable amount of training on behavioral strategies and a lot of information found in many popular parenting books, this approach to parenting is refreshing and at the same time makes so much sense - as a human being wanting, to take care of, teach, coach, guide, and relate to my kids in a respectful manner. I can't say enough good things about this book. Definitely worth a read.

1 person found this helpful

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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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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.

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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.

5 people found this helpful

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Eye opening, great audio.

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

3 people found this helpful

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  • sarah
  • 04-15-17

This book has been thought provoking and a revelation.

This audio has been so thought provoking I felt I needed to leave a review (the first I've ever written).

This audio has challenged the way I have been interacting with my child on every level. It's made me stop and think and treat my 5 year old with respect and as little human being in his own right with his own thoughts and feelings.

I'd fallen into the trap of do this, do that, do as I say and then getting cross with him when he didn't, leaving me struggling to get him to comply.

The best words of advice from this audio... talk less, listen more!

We now discuss things, work out solutions together. Explain why we are doing things or not to do things. I'm teaching my son empathy, problem solving, negotiating skills instead of teaching him to just follow rules!

We've a long way to go but Ina few short weeks we're connecting more, have less tears, life is easier and more fun!

Although a little slow to get going, do bare with it because the tools you will take away will be invaluable.

Highly recommended.

10 people found this helpful

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  • pepperstree
  • 02-22-17

must read

In the multitude of trends and advice on disciplining practices this book is a breath of fresh air, concentrating on principles of education. When you love your child this way is a no brainier as it does not require that you be mean or manipulative. The only but is that it is really hard work as it requires sooo much patience and often time.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Megan
  • 09-08-17

Thought provoking and uplifting

If you open your mind to the worldview of Alfie Kohn presented in this book then it will change your life! Or it has for me. Rather than suggesting a parenting methodology, this book presents a parenting philosophy. It will certainly be difficult to change my actions in accordance with my new beliefs about human cognition and behaviour, but I'm excited to try!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lauren Blunt
  • 08-05-20

Thought provoking

A good read but implemented his ideas are less easy. I struggled with the boundaries with any type of consequence. It’s easy to listen to this and end up doing the permissive parenting approach. I fully agree with what he says but it took a few more similar style books to implement what he says.

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  • Joelle Havelaar
  • 06-14-20

parents Must Read

very insightful. just finished it and thinking i need to listen again or get a hard copy to make a notes to self...

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  • Daniel Staples
  • 02-23-20

Powerful message

Powerful message, well delivered. It’s making me think about how I’ve parented and I will make changes.

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  • MYB
  • 11-13-19

Excellent

Well written, explained and researched. Would recommend this to any parent or career of young children.

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  • woowoo
  • 08-27-19

If you are a parent, you need this.

Read really well by the author. the content is factual, logical, clear and mind blowing

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  • JB
  • 09-25-18

Challenging and thought provoking

I found this book gave me strength to follow my intuition when I have been told I am being too soft on my kids. This book isn’t about letting them do what ever they like but about giving them what they need by seeing them as unique and individual, stopping to see things from their perspective, and giving them space to be at the stage that they naturally are. It takes a lot of patience and can be inconvenient at times, I’m thinking more about how I say things and whether what I expect is reasonable. It’s about keeping a long term view of the qualities you’d like to see develop in their characters and giving them a solid sense of being truly loved. I highly recommend this book.

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  • marie
  • 03-11-18

Revolutionary

I loved this book. A sound presentation of a revolutionary method of parenting. Would highly recommend to any parent.

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  • Dr Jesse J Harvey
  • 01-22-17

every parent should read this

got through this very easily, great book, easy to listen to, changed the way I view my parenting and my parents

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-21-19

Clear and convincing: unconditional love

Helped me see more clearly the meaning and impact of my actions and words on the child. Thank you.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Karlsmum
  • 05-29-19

Amazing and life changing

Really great listen. Love the way Alfie backs up his points with research. Transformational read for parents and caregivers to change the relationships and the way they relate to the children in their lives.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-17-18

Opened my eyes

Really enjoyed it and took some useful learnings which has improved my relationship with my child.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-07-18

Brilliant!Amazing

highly recommend this book. it just makes sense. I tried these techniques and OMG they work.....thank you.