Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Unconditional Parenting

Lately all I post is pyrex and crafty fun (or our kids' environment stuff). I promise I'm still reading...

I recently finished Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn. His book came to my attention via parents/blogs that advocate showing children respect and working with them rather than just creating momentary compliance. Since I felt something was amiss in our time-outs with Z, I decided to delve into it.

It was very challenging to common ways of negotiating discipline (even in terms of schools), and I wanted more practical ideas for the way situations really play out. Still, there was so much evidence in Kohn's presentation and ideas. Even with the discomfort of the unknown, it's worth pursuing.

Confusing to me was the developmental levels of very small children like mine in terms of building the solid moral foundation that his ideas go after. I wrote a note on his site, and he responded within a day of my question which was greatly appreciated...

Thanks for your note. There's a lot of "pop-neurobiology" floating around that leads people to draw somewhat overstated and reductive conclusions. While it's true that the brain continues to develop through childhood, it's also true that cognitive, moral, and social development are becoming ever more sophisticated during that process. Ever since Piaget detailed how significantly the capacities of a 7-year-old exceed those of a child only a couple of years younger, the field of developmental psychology has revealed what children are capable of (including decision-making) at different stages alongside what their limitations are.

It would be a mistake to treat kids as if they were adults (which is why we don't hold them equally responsible), but it would also be a mistake to assume they can't plan, reflect, and imagine the perspectives of other people.

I appreciate your taking the time to write.

-- Alfie Kohn

So perhaps it's even more important now to go back through the ideas, chew on them as regards our time so far as a family and see what's possible for us. Certainly there's a lot!

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