Monday, 20 February 2012

Unconditional Parenting

I came across this Posted on a mums forum yesterday Its a book by a  guy called Alfie Kohn who thinks that traditional discipline does not work.

He's said that the one basic need all children have, is to be loved unconditionally and to know they will be accepted even if they mess up and that, conventional approches to parenting such as punishment, rewards and other forms for control teach our children that they are loved only when they please or impress us.

"UP" Philosophy takes discipline and goes back to the root of it "to teach" Do you say please and thank you, do you try not to shout, do you listen when your child asks questions?  The book also talks about teaching by explanation, reasoning, answering questions and pointing them towards information sources,  helping them make the connection between their actions and the natural consequences of those actions.

Not using Rewards and Punishments as a motivational tool as you want them to learn that we dont hit people for example because it hurts people, not that we dont hit because we will get into trouble. Rewarding good behaviour with getting a sticker it only becomes about getting a sticker and not about the behavior being a good thing to do.

Kohn's principles of Unconditional Parenting:

Consider your Requests - Maybe it is in what/how you have requested that the child is not responding favorably Maybe you need to re-think what you are doing.

Put the Relationship First - Being right isn't necessarily what matters; it matters very little if your children stiffen when you walk into the room; what matters is the connection, the alliance, mutual respect. From a practical perspective, the relationship counts, where the child feels safe enough to explain why she did something wrong; when you put your foot down, is it worth any potential injury to the relationship?

The Love has to be Unconditional - Love withdrawl is conditional love; when it does work, the price you are paying is too high - it says, "You have to earn my love." You go away from me or I go away from you - banishment. Kids need love that never stops coming; affection that does not have to be earned. "No matter what you do, I will never stop loving you." Stop that which gives the opposite message - positive reinforcement when they are good. Items are a display of love or a tool to control - you cannot have it both ways. When we praise them for making our lives easy, they look for that. More praise, the more insecure they become, the more dependent they become on our approval. They have to know they are loved even when they screw up or fall short. They need to know they are loved for who they are, not what they do.

Imagine how kids see Things - Look at the world from their point of view! The more you do that, the better a parent you tend to be. 

Talk less, Ask more - Listen, respond, elicit, imagine her perspective - Good parenting includes listening.

Assume the Best ~ A tribute to Children: the best possible motive consistent with the facts. Why assume the child was trying to make you unhappy? Children of a certain age cannot understand promises, sitting still for a long family dinner. Don't assume the worst. We do not always know why kids do things. Kids live down to our negative expectations. Assume the best.

Try to say Yes, when you can - Do not say No constantly. Sometimes you have to say No. Kids don't get better at coping with unhappiness when they were made unhappy deliberately when they were young. If you say Yes twice as often as you do now, they will still get plenty of opportunities with frustration. Pick your battles. This is not to say Yes out of laziness. Provide guidance, support. Mindful parenting. Say Yes as often as you can.

Don't be Rigid - Wave the rules. Be flexible. Respond differently to different children and situations, understanding the context. Predictability is good, but don't make a fetish of it. United front is dishonest - more useful for kids to see we disagree and can talk it out.

Let kids decide whenever possible - Support their autonomy, bring them in on the decision making. Children will feel better about themselves. The way kids make good decisions is by making decisions. Let them decide unless there is a compelling reason not to.

Its a very thought provoking book and some things he says do make sense. I think I will take some of the things on board and try his suggestions first but if it doesn't work I'll be going back to the naughty step.  

1 comment:

  1. Is this what you believe in too and practise ? I couldn't imagine my life without reward charts, chocolate bribery and time out! It sounds very idealistic, love to know how it works in practise with a tantrumming toddler !