Unconditional Parenting Discussion Thread (5/1-8/31)
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June 29th, 2012, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Jul 2010
I am loving this book. I got it late and have been reading it non-stop for two days (which, with two kids means I am about 100 pages in
) It is right up my alley with the psychology stuff and the explanations of all the different types of ppunishments, rewards, etc.
But I do have one major problem with the book...and that is that I think it gives kids too much mental credit. Kids are brilliant, smart and very intuitive. I don't doubt they pick up on things I never would and make connections that are well past their age. BUT, I seriously would question whether some of these things are too over their heads. I do NOT believe that by removing Liam from a situation and taking him to his room (I sit in there with him) and remaining in there until he calms down sends the message that "I am capable of overpowering you and will use my power to make you do things you don't want to do." And truly, I don't think Liam feels that way either. When he gets really upset now, he ASKS to go in his room and either sit on his bed or rock with me. It is a time-out in all definitions of the term. We leave the area, he is generally not thrilled to have me remove him, and we go somewhere isolated and quiet. So, in that book and by its logic, I am teaching him I have power to remove him and that I am withdrawing love (??) because he is not acting how I want him to. When, in my mind, he is not acting appropriate for the situation and I am taking him to a place where we can talk about it without distractions and trying to get him to learn some emotional distance so he can eventually change his behavior without the removal from the situation. I don't see how I am withdrawing love just because we are isolating him from the problem.
So my main problem this far is that the author is clearly versed in psychology and truly believes in the power of manipulation to cause problems in later life. I agree. But I do not think some of these things are quite as dramatic as he makes them. A kid who gets occasional praise, in specific forms (not just "good job") is NOT going to grow up dependent on that praise. EVERYONE wants acknowledgement. Adults, animals, kids, teenagers, infants, fetuses (okay, that might be going a little far). Despite the evidence, which is mostly based on a large amount of non-specific praise (from what I have currently read), I think Liam needs to hear "You made an awesome choice to share that toy with your brother, it makes him happy and happy brothers can play together." THAT is praise...I am praising HIS choice of behaviors. And am valuing them against my own values. Because I want him to ingrain that value of sharing with others to make them happy. And I want him to know that by helping people become happy with their situation will also benefit him. I don't see that as a negative lesson. It doesn't take away intrinsic motivation, it encourages a thought process behind it, which is what I want. I just want him to think about why sharing might make the playtime more enjoyable.
So yeah...I like the book and I totally am on board with the main points of the book. That lots of parents have power trip issues and use coercion to get kids to bend to their will. I agree that rewards can cause kids to expect rewards. And punishments make them fear being caught instead of making them fear the behavior. And I REALLY love what he said about "natural consequences" because I have never fully been on board with them. It made sense that the kids would draw either no conclusion from the situation or they might think "well, my mom just let that happen to me." And I was not okay with that. It helped me put a finger on why I was uncomfortable with those type of situations.
I still have to get to the alternatives to these things sections and maybe that will help me understand more about the "right way" to go about some of the things I currently do. Or will shed more light on some of the comments I have not reall agreed with in the first few chapters.
All in all, a great tool for parenting. And I think it is the one I can most relate to so far. But it has some quirks I am not really totally 100% behind at this juncture. Maybe I need to get further into it.
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