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Most parenting guides begin with the question "How can we get kids to do what they're told?"--and then proceed to offer various techniques for controlling them. In this truly groundbreaking book, nationally respected educator Alfie Kohn begins instead by asking "What do kids need--and how can we meet those needs?" What follows from that question are ideas for working with children rather than doing things to them. One basic need all children have, Kohn argues, is to be loved unconditionally, to know that they will be accepted even if they screw up or fall short. Yet conventional approaches to parenting such as punishments (including "time-outs"), rewards (including positive reinforcement), and other forms of control teach children that they are loved only when they please us or impress us. Kohn cites a body of powerful, and largely unknown, research detailing the damage caused by leading children to believe they must earn our approval. That's precisely the message children derive from common discipline techniques, even though it's not the message most parents intend to send. More than just another book about discipline, though, Unconditional Parenting addresses the ways parents think about, feel about, and act with their children. It invites them to question their most basic assumptions about raising kids while offering a wealth of practical strategies for shifting from "doing to" to "working with" parenting--including how to replace praise with the unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people. This is an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts and inspire them to become better parents.
The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you'll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way we train the family pet. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Alfie Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. "Do rewards motivate people?" asks Kohn. "Yes. They motivate people to get rewards." Seasoned with humor and familiar examples, Punished By Rewards presents an argument unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.
A prominent and esteemed critic challenges widely held beliefs about children and parenting, revealing that underlying each myth is a deeply conservative ideology that is, ironically, often adopted by liberal parents. Somehow a set of deeply conservative assumptions about children--what they're like and how they should be raised--has congealed into the conventional wisdom in our society. Parents are accused of being both permissive and overprotective, unwilling to set limits and afraid to let their kids fail. Alfie Kohn systematically debunks these beliefs, not only challenging erroneous factual claims but also exposing the troubling ideology that underlies them. Complaints about pushover parents and coddled kids are hardly new, he shows, and there is no evidence that either phenomenon is especially widespread today--let alone more common than in previous generations. Moreover, new research reveals that helicopter parenting is quite rare and, surprisingly, may do more good than harm when it does occur. The major threat to healthy child development, Kohn argues, is parenting that is too controlling rather than too indulgent. With the same lively, contrarian style that marked his influential books about rewards, competition, and education, Kohn relies on a vast collection of social science data, as well as on logic and humor, to challenge assertions that appear with numbing regularity in the popular press and are often accepted uncritically, even by people who are politically liberal. These include claims that young people * suffer from inflated self-esteem * are entitled and narcissistic * receive trophies, praise, and A's too easily * are in need of more self-discipline and "grit" Kohn's invitation to reexamine these and other assumptions is particularly timely; his book has the potential to change our culture's conversation about kids and the people who raise them.
No Contest stands as the definitive critique of competition. Contrary to accepted wisdom, competition is not basic to human nature; it poisons our relationships and holds us back from doing our best. In this new edition, Alfie Kohn argues that the race to win turns all of us into losers.
Mind-opening writing on what kids need from school, from one of education’s most outspoken voices Almost no writer on schools asks us to question our fundamental assumptions about education and motivation as boldly as Alfie Kohn. The Washington Post says that “teachers and parents who encounter Kohn and his thoughts come away transfixed, ready to change their schools.” And Time magazine has called him “perhaps the country’s most outspoken critic of education’s fixation on grades [and] test scores.” Here is challenging and entertaining writing on where we should go in American education, in Alfie Kohn’s unmistakable voice. He argues in the title essay with those who think that high standards mean joylessness in the classroom. He reflects thoughtfully on the question “Why Self-Discipline Is Overrated.” And in an essay for the New York Times, which generated enormous response, he warns against the dangers of both punishing and praising children for what they do instead of parenting “unconditionally.” Whether he’s talking about school policy or the psychology of motivation, Kohn gives us wonderfully provocative—and utterly serious—food for thought. This new book will be greeted with enthusiasm by his many readers, and by teachers and parents seeking a refreshing perspective on today’s debates about kids and schools.
More than a parenting guide, this study of childhood is a powerful manual for social change.
What is most remarkable about the assortment of discipline programs on the market today is the number of fundamental assumptions they seem to share. Some may advocate the use of carrots rather than sticks; some may refer to punishments as "logical consequences." But virtually all take for granted that the teacher must be in control of the classroom, and that what we need are strategies to get students to comply with the adult's expectations. Alfie Kohn challenged these widely accepted premises, and with them the very idea of classroom "management," when the original edition of Beyond Discipline was published in 1996. Since then, his path-breaking book has invited hundreds of thousands of educators to question the assumption that problems in the classroom are always the fault of students who don't do what they're told; instead, it may be necessary to reconsider what it is that they've been told to do--or to learn. Kohn shows how a fundamentally cynical view of children underlies the belief that we must tell them exactly how we expect them to behave and then offer "positive reinforcement" when they obey. Just as memorizing someone else's right answers fails to promote students' intellectual development, so does complying with someone else's expectations for how to act fail to help students develop socially or morally. Kohn contrasts the idea of discipline, in which things are done to students to control their behavior, with an approach in which we work with students to create caring communities where decisions are made together. Beyond Discipline has earned the status of an education classic, a vital alternative to all the traditional manuals that consist of techniques for imposing control. For this 10th anniversary edition, Kohn adds a new afterword that expands on the book's central themes and responds to questions from readers. Packed with stories from real classrooms around the country, seasoned with humor and grounded in a vision as practical as it is optimistic, Beyond Discipline shows how students are most likely to flourish in schools that have moved toward collaborative problem solving--and beyond discipline.

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