The concept of unconditional parenting appeals to me, the idea that we love our kids unconditionally: whether they behave, throw a tantrum, do (or don’t do) well in school. Kohn debunks many popular discipline strategies including time-outs, positive reinforcement and praise, reward systems, and punishment. Instead he offers thirteen parenting techniques that help parents to honor their kids and to treat them as if they like them rather than are in charge of them. He also challenges parents to consider how they would feel if they were receiving the treatment they’re giving their kids. Are we helping our children feel loved and accepted even when their behavior is not acceptable? He warns against the unspoken message, “We love you honey; we just hate almost everything you do” (143) and offers strategies for dealing with problematic behavior.
I liked the ideas in this book, though I felt like Kohn kept repeating himself to try to drill home people’s understanding of why to do it. I’d bought in pretty early on so I was ready for application advice way before he gave it. One of the things I appreciated most about this book was Kohn’s insistence on seeing a child as a whole person with needs of his or her own, needs that are not or should not be secondary just because of being a child. Unconditional Parenting offers many logical and loving parenting and discipline strategies to help meet a whole family’s needs. It just took awhile to get there.
If you want my Cliff’s notes version, read the chapters and pages I found most helpful:
* “Giving and Withholding Love” 24 – 42
* From “Punitive Damages” 64 – 73
* “Pushed to Succeed” 74 – 77
* “Principles of Unconditional Parenting” 119 – 139
* “Love Without Strings Attached” 143 – 162
* “The Child’s Perspective” 191 – 211
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