OCP’s first parent education night of the school year (October 21st) featured a lively discussion of the parenting methods in Alfie Kohn’s book “Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason.” Parents shared many of their personal experiences with putting the ideas into practice with their own children.
Some of the points covered were:
1. How punishment and constant praise manipulate kids to do what we want them to do, but offer short term solutions.
2. Working with your kids and asking questions to find out what their reasons are for their actions helps to take a parent’s ego out of parenting and ensure that our expectations are appropriate for the child and the situation.
3. Love and affection toward your child should be unconditional, even when he or she falls short or makes mistakes. This helps to put the relationship first and lets a child feel safe to explain when he or she has done wrong.
4. An automatic praise response from a parent takes a child’s experience away from him or her and can cause the child to feel insecure and second guess his or her judgment.
5. There is value to authenticity with children; apologizing to your child when you overreact or make a mistake sets the example of being graceful when you are wrong and shows that it is ok to be vulnerable.
6. Talk less and listen more. Find out the child’s perspective. This approach works for all relationships.
7. Sometimes your child’s behavior is about a developmental limitation. Assume the best, not the worst.
8. Try to say “yes” more. Provide guidance and support. Don’t let “no” be your automatic response.
9. Try to be flexible and let them camp out in the living room occasionally.
10. Let your child make some decisions. Children often respond in a positive way when they are part of the process. You don’t need to agree with them. Conversation and negotiation can lead to everyone being heard and everyone winning. Remember it is your child’s life too.
More can be read on Alfie Kohns web site, www.alfiekohn.org, including the very interesting article “Five Reasons to Stop Saying Good Job.”