Posts Tagged ‘society’

Unconditional Parenting: Chapter 5: Pushed to Succeed


  • Some parents are so focused on future success that the whole of the child’s present is consumed by it. (p. 75)
  • Focus on success shifts learning from “What does this mean?” to “Do we need to know this?” (p. 75)
  • Comparing children to others can cause them to view others as obstacles and base their self esteem on performance and what other think. p. 76)
  • Kohn suggests that it isn’t how much we do for our children but what we do for our children that is important. (p. 77)
  • He also suggests we consider “for whom we are doing our parenting?”
  • Pressure to succes in school (pp. 79-85) and athletics (pp. 85-88) actually backfires (just like use of control) and ends up leading to less success.
  • Children pushed to succeed often have a fear of failure that causes them to put in less effort to succeed in order to not have to face the possibility of failure. (If you don’t try then you can’t win but you can’t lose either.)


  • Did/do you feel motivated to learn for the sake of learning or do you recall having felt overly focused on the outcome (success or failure)?
  • When have you felt the pressure of success affecting your parenting/child? (height/weight percentages? eating and sleeping of infants and toddlers? walking? talking? reading? …..)
  • When you ask yourself “For whom am I doing my parenting?” when do you get the answer that you are doing it for yourself versus doing it for your child?

Unconditional Parenting: Chapter 4: Punitive Damages


  • Research has shown that punishment is “ineffectual over the long term as a technique for eliminating the kind of behavior towrad which it is direct.” (pp. 63-4)
  • Punishment has recently been repackaged as “consequences.” (p. 65)
  • Warnings about the consequences to follow  (punishment–loss of privilege or something else unpleasant) end up being threats that reveal distrust that children want to or will do the right thing if there is no punishment. (p. 65)
  • Natural consequences (Example: forgetting lunch means going hungry) can be experienced by the child as the adult in their life refusing to help. (p. 66)
  • “The more you rely on punishment, ‘the less real influence you’ll have on their lives.'” (p. 68)
  • Why punishment doesn’t work (p. 67-71): makes people mad, models use of power, loses effectiveness, erodes our relationships with our kids, distracts kids from the important issues, makes kids self-centered.
  • Children more likely to ask “What do the grown ups with the power want me to do and what will happen to me if I don’t? versus “What kind of person do I want to be?”
  • Punishing out of love is confusing to children.
  • There is a continuum of conditional parenting(doing to):
    • harsh corporeal punishment       
    • milder spankings      
    • other punishments       
    • tangible rewards       
    • verbal rewards
  • Goal is to get off the “doing to” continuum entirely and moving towards a “working with.”


  • Do you agree that consequences are punishments wrapped up in a new package? Why or why not?
  • When have you found yourself along the conditional parenting continuum? As a child? As a parent/caregiver?
  • What is a time/situation in which you found a solution other than something along the conditional parenting continuum? What led you to that action/thought/solution instead of something conditional?
  • What do you think helps you move towards a working with approach rather than getting stuck in a doing to kind of reaction?

Unconditional Parenting: Chapter 2: Giving and Withholding Love

Disclaimer: Let’s all agree that we are doing our best with what we’ve got to work with, which means some things we are proud of and some things we are not. Let’s withhold judgment, from ourselves and each other, so that we can be honest and learn and grow together. These ideas are deep and wide and take some time to digest and integrate. Let’s all be patient, again with ourselves and each other as we strive to be our best selves.


  • Studies of discipline (starting in 50s and 60s) suggested that children receiving power-based discipline (hit/yell/threat) were worse off than children receiving love-based discipline (everything else –too broad–including controlling with love). (p.24)
  • Conditional parenting has “two faces:” love withdrawal — “the stick,” (pp.24-31) — and positive reinforcement — “the carrot,” (pp.32-42).
  • Time out originated as “time out from positive  reinforcement” during experiments with lab animals to control animal behavior; Kohn argues that current time out methods with children is effectively a “time out from your love.” Kohn raises the idea that we not focus only on the behavior, that children are not simply more complex in their behavior but also in their learning, and that a parenting model based on control is far from ideal or truly loving. (Remember: Focus is on the child’s experience of our actions/love.) (pp.25-27)
  • “The Stick:” Love withdrawal (emotional punishment) will often produce results because children want love and approval. However, the effects of conditional love may have several negative and undesirable effects, especially as the focus is on the consequences to the child rather than on the feelings or care for others. (pp. 28-30)
  • “The Carrot:” Rewards for compliance (or doing what we, the adults, want) less successful long term or beyond the “payoff.” In fact, they often decrease commitment, quality of work/learning and motivation. (pp. 31-32)
  • Intrinsic motivation (doing something for the sake of doing it or out of true desire) is destroyed by extrinsic motivation (doing something to get something else); this means children will likely stop doing things when the rewards and accolades run out. (p. 33)
  • “Praise” is a reward (positive reinforcement) that expresses conditional love and focuses on the behavior rather than the child’s whole self. (pp. 34-41)
  • High self-esteem is still not desirable if it is contingent on accomplishment; conditional love makes it hard for children to accept themselves.


  • How would you describe your “discipline” style and actions so far as a parent/caregiver? How does what you do/say match what you actually intend to do? Does it create the outcomes you actually want? (Think back to larger goals.)
  • What are your experiences seeing or using time out, rewards, praise, yelling, threats or more unconditional love? What difference do you notice in your child’s response based on your actions/words? How has your view of these methods changed (or not) after reading Kohn’s ideas?
  • When you find you are not using UP principles, do you find you tend to be more a carrot or stick person or both? What past or present influences/circumstances lead you to go to those methods? (For example: Kohn suggests “some parents who received too little unconditional love when they were children end up misdiagnosing the problem and assume it was praise they lacked.” — p.  41)
  • Do you think that saying thank you (for sharing or cleaning, etc.) or stating your observations in an excited tone (You built a tower!) fall under the category of praise and positive reinforcement? Is there a time, place or circumstance for enthusiasm and excitement? (p. 35-6)

Online Resources:

Growth: There IS No Set Pattern

I have never cared about growth charts and percentiles.

It makes sense to me that with the wide range among adults there would come a wide range among children. It also makes sense that children do not grow in regular increments but in fits and starts. I also believe there is a difference in the growth of breastfed babies and babies who are formula-fed as well as babies who start solids around 4 months and babies who start solids after 6 months.

Recently my family has been looking for different health insurance. The company with the plan we have been looking at told us that they would charge us $150 extra a month because my daughter is “does not fall within their guidelines on the chart” for height and weight. (My daughter has always been a lightweight but on the taller side and completely healthy.) When asked what the concern is for her health, the representative was “sure there are many risks associated with having ‘low’ height and weight.” When asked to name one concern, the rep said, “I’m not a doctor, but I am sure there are several risks.”

So now you know. According to some insurance companies, it’s risky business to be short or lean, regardless of your child’s actual health condition and history (or what a pediatrician says).


Here are some growth charts, if you’re interested:

Unconditional Parenting: Chapter 1: Conditional Parenting

Disclaimer: Let’s all agree that we are doing our best with what we’ve got to work with, which means some things we are proud of and some things we are not. Let’s withhold judgment, from ourselves and each other, so that we can be honest and learn and grow together. These ideas are deep and wide and take some time to digest and integrate. Let’s all be patient, again with ourselves and each other as we strive to be our best selves.


  • How we love matters, and each child may need to be loved differently. This goes against the idea that all love is equally desirable.  (p.10)
  • Conditional parenting is loving kids for what they do; unconditional parenting is loving kids for who they are.
  • Conditional parenting is generally based on behaviorism (B. F. Skinner and operant conditioning). Two points in this type of behaviorism are that only what can be seen and measured is important (behaviors), and all behaviors occur based on reinforcement.
  •  Unconditional parenting means loving children “for no good reason.” It is important that children feel loved (despite mistakes and such), not just that our intentions are loving. (p.11-12)
  • It is the child who engages in a behavior that matters, not just the behavior itself. (p.15)
  • Our modern view of children is “awfully sour.” The underlying assumptions and beliefs are that children are bad. (p.16)
  • Children (and everyone) should earn everything, including love. For children, this leads to the idea of privileges vs. rights.  (p.18)
  • Because conditional parenting is about obtaining a certain outcome, it is more about doing to a child (using consequences to get them to do what you want). In unconditional parenting the emphasis is working with a child (reflecting, problem-solving together to understand what is going on with the whole child). (p.19)
  • How we feel about our kids isn’t as important as how children experience those feelings and how they regard the way we treat them. (p. 20)


  • Do you make your child say sorry or please and thank you? Why or why not? (p.12)
  • How/when do you talk about behaviors and feelings with your child(ren)? (p. 15)
  • How has your view of children changed over time– since you were younger, became a parent? (p.16)
  • Are children able to develop compassion, cooperation, altruism independently? Is it in their nature? (p. 17)
  • What privileges do your children have? What do you think are a few rights they have? (p.18)

Online Resources:

Sunday Surf: Alternative Parenting Info for Family and Friends

Holidays and celebrations usually mean family get togethers and all that comes with those situations.

For many, this is a joyous time when perhaps people who rarely enjoy sharing the same space have a day or more to “live together” in some ways. What happens when the small family unit chooses to live differently than the family at large? For parents who subscribe to alternative/gentle/positive/natural/attachment whatever you call it parenting, the coming together of different styles of raising children can cause tension and frustration. Some families also have a hard time over the phone or the internet.

A few things I think cause trouble are a lack of compassionate understanding of the various “sides” and feelings of judgment and defensiveness that block communication. This happens for everyone, but it seems that the hows, whats and whys of a less typical type of parent are less known (and also, therefore, respected?). I know I wish that my family could read some of the articles that shape my parenting choices.

What follows is a rough draft of my dream list of 10 blog posts to give someone a sense of where I am currently coming from as a mother. (Yes, I reserve the right to change and learn and grow.)

***Last minute addition!***

I just found this post on the 10 RIE principles of caregiving, and it addresses all the main issues I’ve been trying to raise with my own family. I may even share it with said family…….

10 Articles to Help Understand My Parenting Aspirations

Is There a Case Against Tummy Time?!

A while ago, after my daughter had already begun to crawl (and walk?), I came across an article called “The Case Against Tummy Time.”

What?! Tummy time seemed like a sacred thing. Everyone had told me about it; everyone talks about it. People told me to let me daughter get tummy time. I was really more laid back about it and don’t remember making it any kind of priority. (These are the only pictures I could find. I do remember wondering about the whole concept, though, and wondering if I was doing the wrong thing by not having regular tummy time.

3 months

Today at a indoor play place, I overheard two moms talking about how they and their babies don’t really seem to like tummy time. They talked about how important it is. They even seemed to grudgingly encourage themselves to regularly work in tummy time.

The whole time I kept thinking about the post I had read and how I have learned over time to trust my daughter and her human nature more. I was wondering what we might see if we just spent 5 minutes observing their babies on their backs (after reading the post and understanding a bit more what to look for). The tummy time issue just jumped out at me and made me think:

Who knows what wonders we would see if we stopped to look closely enough?

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