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Unconditional Parenting Discussion Thread (5/1-8/31)


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  #21  
July 9th, 2012, 04:57 PM
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Lol. It makes for sense to me I guess because I was raised with a lot of "self esteem boosting" and it backfired. So to me, saying "good job" all the time is patronizing and distracting. Saying it only when you really want it to count, is coercive and manipulative. It is more honest to say "thanks for helping mommy" or "that's the first time you've been able to do X by yourself!" Or whatever.

But the most important thing IMO is non coercion, not controlling their behavior more than absolutely necessary. I think the more you can trust them and be unconditional in your love/affection/approval, the better.

I have been experimenting with this, just keeping a neutral happy tone with M and smiling at her even when I am correcting her (like stopping her from biting me or grabbing a stranger's purse) and it works just as well as when I used to take a disapproving tone. But I think it upsets her less and she moves on quicker. I have really taken this non coercive thing to heart. We will see how it goes - deciding to not praise/reward or show judgment/ disapproval to a small toddler seems pretty crazy!!! For me it's turning into mainly just checking in emotionally and being reassuring and loving towards her even when I'm forcing her to do something (like changing a poopy diaper or preventing her from pulling hair). And picking my battles. Does that help explain it??? This is what I got out of the book anyway.
Hmmm, ok. I pretty much did all that stuff anyway. When I tell Juliana not to do something, I always say it in a cheerful and respectful tone, not the "you are a POS" tone I always got from my parents when I displeased them. The only thing I was guilty of is too much "good job," but now the book says that reducing empty praise is not the point, so I'm struggling to figure out what I'm supposed to change. I am trying to make my praise more meaningful and simply acknowledge and not praise when something isn't really praise-worthy.
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  #22  
July 12th, 2012, 08:17 AM
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I'm on page 127 out of about 200 pages. I've been thinking a lot about the reading as I overheard various parents interacting with their kids.

The author recommends not using punishment, even if you tell them upfront what the consequences would be. He says/implies that it is bad to see "If you do X, then I will do Y to you". So last night Juliana went to our neighborhood pool and there was a mom there with 3 kids. One of them kept screaming. She told him "If you scream again, you will have to go sit on the side for 5 minutes." That didn't seem that bad to me. If mean, she had already asked him 2 or 3 times to use his nice words and that wasn't working. Was she supposed to just keep asking him over and over? Or maybe she should have frame it as "If you keep screaming, we'll have to go sit on the side away from the other people where we won't bother them if you scream" to make it more of a natural consequence ... but are those things really very different? And what if her other kids were too young for her to go with him, so she had no choice but to make him go by himself? I suppose as long as she explained why he was there and that it was not a banishment, it's ok?

This is so tough. I feel like there is no perfect solution to most of these things. I feel like I'm getting a better since for what is ok but I think there may always have to be some punishment/consequence in order to be an effective parent, just a whole lot less than most parents use.
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  #23  
July 12th, 2012, 10:35 AM
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By the end he seems to talk a lot about just doing your best and being a conscious/deliberate parent rather than automatically replaying what your parents did. And choosing your battles rather than getting all DO AS I SAY OR YOU WILL REGRET IT and powertripping.

For the mom at the pool, was the kid really being that disruptive? Was he endangering himself or others? Or was he just having fun and expressing his glee? The best solution may have been to let him yell, kwim? Or if he was being dangerous, take him aside and explain in a serious tone that it was dangerous. To me, the more I think about it, the more things should just be let go. We always worry so much about judgment from others in public but we really shouldn't imo. Who cares what they think?

I have started noticing other parents more too and it is AMAZING to me how controlling many are. One mom at the playground was literally directing her daughter (looked 2 or 3 yo) exactly which slide to go down, stop making mulch piles, etc. Like yelling at her "listen to me when I'm talking to you!" when she didn't immediately obey. Wth???? The poor girl, she couldn't really play at all. Anyway that mom was like the ultimate anti Alphie Kohn!!!
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  #24  
July 12th, 2012, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by shen7 View Post
For the mom at the pool, was the kid really being that disruptive? Was he endangering himself or others? Or was he just having fun and expressing his glee? The best solution may have been to let him yell, kwim? Or if he was being dangerous, take him aside and explain in a serious tone that it was dangerous. To me, the more I think about it, the more things should just be let go. We always worry so much about judgment from others in public but we really shouldn't imo. Who cares what they think?
Now that you mention it, he wasn't that disruptive. We were outside playing and even though his voice was a bit shrill, you have to expect some noise with a bunch of kids playing. It was the kind of thing where some people might have given her a "control your child" look. I guess we'll have to expect some of those with Alphie's approach.
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  #25  
July 12th, 2012, 03:47 PM
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Now that you mention it, he wasn't that disruptive. We were outside playing and even though his voice was a bit shrill, you have to expect some noise with a bunch of kids playing. It was the kind of thing where some people might have given her a "control your child" look. I guess we'll have to expect some of those with Alphie's approach.
Yeah, it's a no-win. Either you do the unconditional thing and get stern looks and head shaking from the disciplinarian types, or you overly control the kid and get raised eyebrows and concerned faces from the liberal parents, right?

Confession: I've been reading the Alison Gopnik book I mentioned on the book list thread and it might be the best book I have read in years. For me anyway. The ideas in there are merging with the UP ones in my mind so I might not be keeping them straight anymore pretty soon.
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  #26  
July 13th, 2012, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by shen7 View Post
Yeah, it's a no-win. Either you do the unconditional thing and get stern looks and head shaking from the disciplinarian types, or you overly control the kid and get raised eyebrows and concerned faces from the liberal parents, right?

Confession: I've been reading the Alison Gopnik book I mentioned on the book list thread and it might be the best book I have read in years. For me anyway. The ideas in there are merging with the UP ones in my mind so I might not be keeping them straight anymore pretty soon.
Oh, that's awesome. I think one of the new "rules" of the book club was that we would make sure one of us has read it, or at least has an AP friend who has read it, so that we can make sure not to get any more duds like the Discipline Book. Can you give a short overview? It's ok if you want to wait until you're further along. I think I'll post a thread later so we can vote on the next pick. There are only 2 or 3 including that one that qualify based on the criteria, so if it's not the next pick it will most likely be the one after.

Ok, my next question about Unconditional Parenting is what would Alphie say to his kids when they brought home a perfect report card? Would it be (like his example with the snowflake) "How do you think you did?" I'm guessing so. And that is certainly valuable, but can't I ever say "You've worked very hard and I'm proud of you??" Maybe after asking how they did? I mean, I was a straight-A student and sometimes it seemed like I didn't actually work that hard (like until 7th or 8th grade), so maybe that would have brought about meaningful discussions about how I needed to be in more challenging classes. I do remember thinking school was easy/unchallenging.

Which brings me to his point about grades being unmotivating. I think the good students that can get A's will stop trying once they've done enough for an A because that's as high as a grade as they can get. I do remember being quite motivated by competition, though. Anyway, I am interested in finding a school for Juliana where they don't give grades until 8th grade or so, just because it's unavoidable in college and I think they should be phased in eventually.
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  #27  
July 13th, 2012, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Jule'sMomInOR

Oh, that's awesome. I think one of the new "rules" of the book club was that we would make sure one of us has read it, or at least has an AP friend who has read it, so that we can make sure not to get any more duds like the Discipline Book. Can you give a short overview? It's ok if you want to wait until you're further along. I think I'll post a thread later so we can vote on the next pick. There are only 2 or 3 including that one that qualify based on the criteria, so if it's not the next pick it will most likely be the one after.

Ok, my next question about Unconditional Parenting is what would Alphie say to his kids when they brought home a perfect report card? Would it be (like his example with the snowflake) "How do you think you did?" I'm guessing so. And that is certainly valuable, but can't I ever say "You've worked very hard and I'm proud of you??" Maybe after asking how they did? I mean, I was a straight-A student and sometimes it seemed like I didn't actually work that hard (like until 7th or 8th grade), so maybe that would have brought about meaningful discussions about how I needed to be in more challenging classes. I do remember thinking school was easy/unchallenging.

Which brings me to his point about grades being unmotivating. I think the good students that can get A's will stop trying once they've done enough for an A because that's as high as a grade as they can get. I do remember being quite motivated by competition, though. Anyway, I am interested in finding a school for Juliana where they don't give grades until 8th grade or so, just because it's unavoidable in college and I think they should be phased in eventually.
Oh good! I will write a short overview when I am done. I think a big reason I love it is because I spent years thinking about Bayes nets and graphical causal models in my research, and the central idea of the book that babies/toddlers/kids are constantly generating hypothetical causal models and then testing them through systematic intervention, BLEW MY MIND. It explains EVERYTHING. I don't know if someone else would react the same way but I will try to explain more in my overview!

As for the grades, I think you're right. I don't think Alphie would want to make a big deal over the grades themselves, but use them to have a discussion about how school is going, whether the kid is bored silly and frustrated as heck (as straight A little me was too!), is having trouble and needs help with study skills or organization, is achieving the grades through much effort and focus and is proud of them, etc. If the latter then it doesn't seem quite as necessary to praise them, does it? Maybe just respond to that with something like "that's great, you ought to be proud. It is great to see your hard work pay off like that. The important thing to me is that you are learning and happy."
Jule'sMomInOR likes this.
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  #28  
July 13th, 2012, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by shen7 View Post
Oh good! I will write a short overview when I am done. I think a big reason I love it is because I spent years thinking about Bayes nets and graphical causal models in my research, and the central idea of the book that babies/toddlers/kids are constantly generating hypothetical causal models and then testing them through systematic intervention, BLEW MY MIND. It explains EVERYTHING. I don't know if someone else would react the same way but I will try to explain more in my overview!

As for the grades, I think you're right. I don't think Alphie would want to make a big deal over the grades themselves, but use them to have a discussion about how school is going, whether the kid is bored silly and frustrated as heck (as straight A little me was too!), is having trouble and needs help with study skills or organization, is achieving the grades through much effort and focus and is proud of them, etc. If the latter then it doesn't seem quite as necessary to praise them, does it? Maybe just respond to that with something like "that's great, you ought to be proud. It is great to see your hard work pay off like that. The important thing to me is that you are learning and happy."
That's good! I like the "you ought to be proud" phrase. I think it could apply to a lot of situations. It's similar to saying "I'm proud of you" but keeps the motivation intrinsic.

I remember watching the video summary of this book, and when he took questions at the end I wanted to raise my hand and scream "Me, pick me!" because I had so many questions. It's nice to be able to discuss the book.
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  #29  
August 14th, 2012, 03:06 PM
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Related video:
Thoughts on Non-Coercive Parenting - YouTube
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  #30  
August 17th, 2012, 08:06 PM
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I finally got a chance to watch that video! It was wonderful. She really summed up a lot of stuff and was real about the challenges, like the temptation to control with guilt. I loved her perspective on the payoff she's gotten in having a noncoercive/non power struggle relationship with her kids now.
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  #31  
August 20th, 2012, 07:38 AM
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I liked that she is a "real" person sharing the positives and negatives of her experience.

I'm reading a book now called "Connection Parenting: Parenting through Connection instead of Coercion, Through Love instead of Fear" and it is similar in principle to Unconditional Parenting, but with much less psychology, and seems more positive. The recommendations are essentially the same (no punishments, no love withdrawal, respect your child the way you want to be respected) only it doesn't mention praise (at least the first 75 out of 175 pages). It's a quick read; I got it from the library at 1 pm yesterday and I finished 75 pages already. There are lots of writing exercises, which I just did in my head, about your upbringing and how it affected you, vs. what you hope to accomplish as a parent. Anyway, I like the book because it basically reaffirms what I learned in Unconditional Parenting. I can't necessarily say I've learned anything new yet, though.
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  #32  
August 20th, 2012, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Jule'sMomInOR
I liked that she is a "real" person sharing the positives and negatives of her experience.

I'm reading a book now called "Connection Parenting: Parenting through Connection instead of Coercion, Through Love instead of Fear" and it is similar in principle to Unconditional Parenting, but with much less psychology, and seems more positive. The recommendations are essentially the same (no punishments, no love withdrawal, respect your child the way you want to be respected) only it doesn't mention praise (at least the first 75 out of 175 pages). It's a quick read; I got it from the library at 1 pm yesterday and I finished 75 pages already. There are lots of writing exercises, which I just did in my head, about your upbringing and how it affected you, vs. what you hope to accomplish as a parent. Anyway, I like the book because it basically reaffirms what I learned in Unconditional Parenting. I can't necessarily say I've learned anything new yet, though.
That book sounds like a good substitute for UP, like if you were to recommend it to a friend. I am not sure if I would recommend UP to a friend, even though I think it has important ideas in it. Maybe to someone who was already gung ho AP but not to a pregnant FTM or anything! It is just too negative and repetitive and slow reading.
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  #33  
August 22nd, 2012, 07:59 AM
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It does talk about praise! And it's so much more positive and easy to interpret what TO do. It talks about using encouragement instead of praise and gives a page and a half of example phrases. I love this book.
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  #34  
September 20th, 2013, 10:21 PM
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Bumping
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