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Unconditional Parenting

(136 Posts)
KTNoo Fri 01-Aug-08 23:03:53

I know there have been threads about this approach before, but I just had to share this....

I bought this Alfie Kohn book a couple of weeks ago, and OMG, WHAT a relief! My ds in particular is like a different child, but I can see differences in the 2 dds as well.

I always used praise/warnings/time-outs. I had a feeling they were not working. My parents told me I didn't praise my dc enough. It is such a relief to not feel I have to praise them for every little thing. They are happy with "you did it" or similar. This evening ds(5) wouldn't get into the bath. I asked why not and he said he didn't want to stop playing. I said I understood that but he needed to stop soon and have a bath because we need to wash ourselves blah blah blah. He didn't move so I took the dds upstairs and got on with the bath. ds came upstairs a few minutes later and lay on his bed. A few minutes after that he appeared in the bathroom and started taking off his clothes. I didn't say anything, just helped him climb in. It was unbelievable. Before, I would have coerced/counted to 3/threatened no story etc, he would have got into the bath in a foul mood and I would have ended up all stressed out. Instead we had a lovely relaxed bath and story time and he went to bed quite happy.

I know this must sound like nothing much to those of you who have been using this approach instinctively. But I was brought up on a diet of threats and "sugar-coated control" (as the book calls it) so I guess I just did the same.

It's also much more relaxing to think before stopping the dc doing something "why not?". Today they brought their pillows downstairs and started doing sack races in the garden, and I thought "why not?" Unfortunately my mum told them to put them back!

Sorry this is long but I had to share my enthusiasm. Anyone else like this book?

liahgen Fri 01-Aug-08 23:05:45

never heard of it but sounds fab.

This is kind of my approach already but dh needs some work. grin

cornsilk Fri 01-Aug-08 23:07:09

I have not got the book but know of it and I think I do parent now in that way. When my ds1 was younger I was very no nonsense and 'naughty stepish' with him and it just didn't work. People laugh at the ideas behind the book but the proof is in the outcome! I am just starting to see a difference now with my ds which is fantastic for us - this is THE best school holiday we have ever had!

uberalice Fri 01-Aug-08 23:08:01

I was just talking about this book to my DH a few minutes ago. I've not read it yet, but I'm planning to order a copy. It gets mentioned so often so it must be a worthwhile read.

I was going to say "well done" with your DS today, but perhaps I shouldn't. wink

Monkeytrousers Fri 01-Aug-08 23:11:55


mollymawk Fri 01-Aug-08 23:13:49

I've read this and although it REALLY irritated me at first I could see the sense in it by the time I got to the end. And it seems to be very effective with DS1 (who is 5). Less easy with DS2 (who is 3 and stubborn) but still interesting. So I am in favour of it at present.

(And if they still don't cooperate you can always threaten to thwack them around the head with the book.)

KTNoo Fri 01-Aug-08 23:16:03

Uberalice I would recommend the book.

Cornsilk I have always classed myself as no nonsense. But ds has really challenged me and I realised the time-outs were having no long-term effect and he seemed to be angry a lot. I think he needed more control over his decisions. It's just a shame it has taken me so long to realise this. He is full of ideas and often wanting to do things which I don't want him to do, but I'm trying to look more from his perspective and let him do what he wants to as much as possible.

handlemecarefully Fri 01-Aug-08 23:17:49

I don't think it would work for me. Re the pillow races in the garden, my 'why not' would be because I don't want additional domestic drudgery of more washing to do.

It sounds like an interesting read though, and I am intrigued enough to try and get a copy from the library

ThatBigGermanPrison Fri 01-Aug-08 23:20:15

Well, a lot of 'why not's can be answered with "Because something will get broken or someone will get hurt".

I wouldn't allow pillowcase races in the garden because I can't afford to replace them should they get irretrievably stained or torn.

It's a great approach for Home-edders. If not, school will come as one hell of a shock.

kiskidee Fri 01-Aug-08 23:20:22

I haven't read this book but the same principle in theory must come from the continuum concept. It runs basically along the idea that small children feel security through conforming to expectations. So they copy us. Hence why they will shadow us all day long. It is a handy tool to get them to mimic the behaviour we want out of them.

When it is dd's bedtime, I say we are going to bed when this song is over or whatever. Then I tell her, it is time to go, she normally ignores/keeps playing so I say, well come up when you are ready. 2 minutes later, she has followed me upstairs.

Her dad will get her to choose one of her downstairs toys to bring to her room, where she can play with it in the semi dark and when she gets bored with it, puts it down and goes to bed.

Tonight she was well into her singing and v. annoying caterpillar so I said, I am getting into bed now and before I could get comfy she followed.

cornsilk Fri 01-Aug-08 23:23:30

KTNoo - I am also sad that it took me so long to realise that my ds needed a specific type of parenting. Life would have been so much easier if I'd taken this approach from the start.

S1ur Fri 01-Aug-08 23:27:45

It is an interesting book. I recommend 'how to talk so kids will listen and how to listen so kids will talk'

More practical than theorectical but along similar lines.

KTNoo Fri 01-Aug-08 23:29:42

Th thing is, handlemecarefully and TBGP, I was really sceptical before I tried it. But I saw almost immediate results in ds. He still whinges and says no and hits his sister etc, but I feel I am dealing with all this much more effectively now. It's all so new to me. I feel so much more relaxed not having to think up the next thing I will threaten them with if they don't do ehat I say.

I think maybe it works better with some kids. My dd2 is pretty easy going and says "okay" to most requests so therefore you don't need many strategies. But it's still useful - she's doing the toddler thing at the moment of only eating about 5 different foods. I have been stressing over trying to get her to eat a piece of carrot before she gets yoghurt, then I thought why am I doing this? Yoghurt's not a bad thing for her to eat anyway.

Tinkjon Fri 01-Aug-08 23:29:43

I've not heard of this before, so am coming to it with no knowledge whatsoever and I may even be misinterpreting, but I'm interested. Do people take this approach with everything, though? What if the child was doing something dangerous but wouldn't stop when asked; how would you deal with that? I must admit, I'm not sure what I think - at first glance it seems a bit like the child is being 'tricked' (I can't think of a better word) into obeying. Isn't it appropriate for a child to understand that a parent or authority figure sometimes needs to be obeyed, for safety reasons, if nothing else?

cornsilk Fri 01-Aug-08 23:30:29

Slur I've got that one but can't find it. How do you loose a book? I've also lost my Time Traveller's Wife and I haven't finished that either. ([slightly off subject}

ThatBigGermanPrison Fri 01-Aug-08 23:31:09

So how do you approach it if one child is hitting another? How do you get them to stop?

KTNoo Fri 01-Aug-08 23:31:52

Exactly cornsilk - life is easier!

I also like that book slur.

cornsilk Fri 01-Aug-08 23:33:01

I think you get the aggressor to stop first. Depends on the situation obviously.

handlemecarefully Fri 01-Aug-08 23:33:33

I will certainly read it - I need a fresh approach to parenting I think....Too often I feel almost like I am 'bullying' them into submission with threats and sanctions etc. I'd like to see results through other methods.

handlemecarefully Fri 01-Aug-08 23:34:40

What's the title of it? You've mentioned the author but not the title....

S1ur Fri 01-Aug-08 23:35:43

Cornsilk, My copy's on long-term loan overdue from library or I'd lend you it. Tis worth a read though, mainly it makes me a nicer parent I think.

<follows tangent>
I really liked Time Traveller's wife though I know many didn't. I don't lose books but I give them away and forget and then think I've lost them which is nearly as annoying.

KTNoo Fri 01-Aug-08 23:35:50

Obviously you stop them hitting in that instance and talk to them about why we don't hit, the effect on the other person. It's not that complicated from what I can see, and some differences from more established approaches are quite subtle. I haven't been trying it long enough to know but the book quotes a lot of studies claiming in the long term children of this approach are more compliant and for the right reasons.

ThatBigGermanPrison Fri 01-Aug-08 23:36:45

well, yes, but how? Because my normal approach it to shout, and if he doesn't stop, a physically remove to his room and make him stay there until the aggrieved has stopped crying and is comforted.

How would you approach it?

S1ur Fri 01-Aug-08 23:37:54

Alfie Kohn - Unconditional Parenting

ThatBigGermanPrison Fri 01-Aug-08 23:38:22

I am thinking, you see, that a lot of the time I rely on threats of sanctions too much. I want to know how to gain compliance and good behavior without them, I want him to want to do it, not do it resentfully.

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