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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 (51 ratings)
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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

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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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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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 of 6 people found this review helpful

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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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • JB
  • 25-09-18

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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  • AK
  • 15-04-18

Too much criticism of 'conditional' parenting

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Less critique of other parenting styles and more positive illustrations of this style.

Has Unconditional Parenting put you off other books in this genre?

No

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Last 2 chapters were most useful

Could you see Unconditional Parenting being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

Could be a movie. Like pursuit of happy kids tale.

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Revolutionary

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

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Refreshing

This book strongly affirms many of the principles of 'No Drama Discipline'. The approach of non judgement has definitely had a significant positive impact in our small family.

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A bit on the extreme side

The fact that the author's solution to his daughter not getting ready for school on time in the morning is to allow her to sleep in her school clothes should tell you al lot about his 'ideas' on parenting. He also seems to refer a lot to research carried out decades ago.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Heather
  • 18-08-16

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Sid Horadagoda
  • 28-02-17

Eye opening, great audio.

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • nycgirl
  • 22-11-16

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Csos
  • 06-10-16

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Todd H.
  • 13-11-18

Great insight for parenting

The author provides abundant evidence that hitting (and other punitive punishments) is not helpful when it comes to settling conflict that caregivers will encounter with children. Kohn suggests that this parenting style will be difficult but in the end we owe it to children and to ourselves to take a more respectful and collaborative approach. I don't entirely agree that praising children should be removed from the equation.

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  • RS Reviews
  • 01-11-18

This book changed my life and it will change yours

If you allow yourself to listen to this book without preconception it will change your life. Thankfully, I stumbled upon this book when my first son was still very young. It confirmed every single thing I kept feeling about how to parent him well. Things that flew in the face of public opinion.

To parent well we must really think about what we want our children to become and do our very best to use that as a compass to navigate the millions of hard moments. There’s a reflex in all of us that wants to respond out of fear and enforce obedience, but if we can’t teusy ourselves and the remarkable humans we are raising, a realizion comes. When we approach parenting from a place of knowing we are raising the most extroudinary humans in existence, that is who they will be come. When we realize just how amazing we are we won’t feel the need to make fear based parenting crackdowns. We will be OK with the unknown because of the larger known truth that we are confident in our love and self awareness of ourselves and those same things that we are imparting to our children.

I will forever be greatful for this life changing book.

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  • yulya
  • 20-10-18

Important but could be more precise

Important material but presented in a long way. Everything is repeated lots of times. Could be much more precise.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 15-10-18

Inspired Parenting

I came across Alfie Kohn recently. My kids are older (9 & 11) but I really have tried to incorporate his philosophy, which isn’t wildly different than what we have been following. It is such a nice and pragmatic way to parent. It really reduces conflict since we all come from a place of problem solving rather than one of anger and punishment.

I highly recommend his approach to parenting... and life!

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  • Michael
  • 01-06-18

Goes nicely with Punished by Rewards

There's a lot in here that's great, and some that's meh. This book piggy backs very well off his 'Punished by Rewards', a book I'll probably go back to and review because it was so paradigm shifting.
Both of Kohn's books pair well with 'No Drama Discipline' and 'Whole Brain Child'. What I didn't like about this was that he was beating up a bit on a straw man, something that shouldn't be necessary because I think his philosophy is strong enough to stand on its own. I found a number of his caricatures misrepresentative of people who act contrary to his parenting philosophy - it's not that we're bad parents; most of the time we don't know what we're doing!

Anyway, the 'great' stuff in here made it an important book for me. I'm definitely starting to think a lot more about what I'm trying to teach my kids in each situation, rather than just get them to conform behaviorally without 'buying in' themselves. I'm also a lot more wary now of waving rewards in front of them for doing things that I want them to *want* to do, rather than see it as a hurdle blocking the extrinsic reward. Kohn gave some practical tips, but again, as in PbR, unconditional parenting doesn't have shortcuts, since it's about holistic transformation and not just behavioural conformity. And, I always knew it was pointless, but "say you're sorry!" just has to go.

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  • Ty and Alex
  • 05-05-18

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