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Unconditional Parenting - Chapter 2 (Giving and Withholding Love)

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 
Please share any parts of this chapter that you have strong feelings about - whether in agreement or disagreement with what was said. Share any quotes that really stood out to you. How has what you read effected you?
post #2 of 69
On time outs -- boy, have I used these, and yes, as punishment, so it was pretty hard to read about it from Kohn's perspective. It seemed like t/o was the one thing I was doing that was GD -- oops. I guess one thing I'm wondering still, after finishing the book, is what's a practical alternative? I felt that Kohn blasts all the traditional stuff and has good reasons for doing so, but he's less helpful on what we should be doing instead. To his credit, he says this isn't a how-to manual somewhere, but I can't help but want some concrete techniques that work. (I've found How to Talk really good for this)
As a result of reading Kohn, I am using time out in a different way, more as an invitation to reflect/calm down than as an order, but I'm not sure that's what Kohn means
I find the whole rewards/praise thing really interesting. It makes sense, once you come to the realization that it should not be about the behavior but about the child. I'm having a heck of a time keeping that in mind, but reading Kohn has really helped in this regard.
post #3 of 69
while i think that this book really gets going in the upcoming chapters i can't deny that this is an important chapter and maybe the hardest one to fully embrace-especially if you don't already basically agree with Kohn. Most people don't see time out as emotional/psychological control. It seems to me that everyone recommends it because its not physically punishing and fulfills that desire of "well i showed him/her". I really dislike that so many child-rearing books/shows use time outs- i.e. supernanny. Thank you Kohn for finally giving me the words to express why time outs never felt right!No one likes to be ignored or put in "solitary confinement".
I think the hardest part is positive reinforcement. After all who says no to being given a bonus?! And it appears to make the receiver happy at the time. But as Kohn points out the intrinsic motivation is lost and i think that is the most important thing to hold on to and encourage in our children.
Sadly i think most of the people i know suffer from contingent self esteem. and often those i know well have "issues" with their parents-often over what the parent expects their child to have done/do and what reality is.
anyways one thing i still have a problem with is dealing with my 2yr olds hitting. he seems to have periodic episodes where he just will not stop. some we have prevented by realizing hes over tired or is feeling jealous/wants attention. i'm just not sure what to do when he won't stop though. kohn gives examples of other "positive" things to say and i know its not a manual but saying hitting hurts..... doesn't make it feel any better and moving away/leaving the room not only isn't always an option but, as i understand it, would be a form of love withholding.
post #4 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Materfamilias View Post
On time outs I guess one thing I'm wondering still, after finishing the book, is what's a practical alternative? I felt that Kohn blasts all the traditional stuff and has good reasons for doing so, but he's less helpful on what we should be doing instead.
I think I liked this about kohn's book...(more about this chapter in a second..)

I really hate subscribing to how to parenting books. I dont think parenting (or anything in life really) should be manually followed, and have a set script or structure for doing it. Thats what I found really difficult about a lot of other parenting books - they were more of do a when your child does b, try c when d isnt working kind of scenarios - whereas I like the why. I like to understand why something I believe or do is wrong, told why its wrong (I can chose to agree or disagree) and then given a belief system or set of values that i can mold or create that fit my own family and my own circumstances.

I think this is the chapter where most people get furstrated and stop reading because a) its a direct critique of traditional parenting methods that they are utilizing, and because it isnt a how to book - its a shame, because this chapter was one of the best and hard hitting for me.

I felt that the love from my parents was very conditional growing up - if I didnt get good grades, didnt do what I was supposed to etc etc then I wasn't loved (as much). My behaviour became so linked with their praise and criticism that so too did my identity. To this day I still fight very hard not to do things simply because my mother would have me do it that way, or say it a certain way, or wear a certain thing. heck - I can still clearly remember the where/why/when of the first time my mom was truly disappointed in. I was crushed - thinking about it crushes that childlike part of today.

My child's identity has nothing to do with how I treat them - or at least thats what I aim for. Just because I dont like something, just because something isnt how I would do it - doesn't make it wrong. The only reason it would be wrong is because *I* have decided its wrong - and really, how am I qualified to determine that? (There is a really good daily groove on this subject...)

I think its important to share in children's pride in themselves, and as Kohn says - it isnt about ignoring your child or never recognizing the "good" things they do. Its about not assigning a value to them, and not making the "good" things the be all end all, because who are we to decide whats good and bad?
post #5 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by poiyt View Post
I really hate subscribing to how to parenting books. I dont think parenting (or anything in life really) should be manually followed, and have a set script or structure for doing it. Thats what I found really difficult about a lot of other parenting books - they were more of do a when your child does b, try c when d isnt working kind of scenarios - whereas I like the why.
Oh, I get that this book is more about the philosophy than the technical, and I do like that about the book (I posted on the other chapter thread about this) but it is a pretty radical departure from what I had been doing and in those moments when things are crazy and I need to implement the new philosophy, I'm the kind of person who needs a toolbox, KWIM? I don't want to rely on making it up as I go along. I need an arsenal
post #6 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommabear207 View Post
saying hitting hurts..... doesn't make it feel any better and moving away/leaving the room not only isn't always an option but, as i understand it, would be a form of love withholding.
This is where I run into trouble as well. I get what he's saying when he points out that it doesn't matter how the parents MEAN something, what matters is how the child PERCEIVES it. But, at the same time, I can only control my actions- I can't completely dictate my child's perception. So, how can I establish personal boundaries/safety rules without opening up the possibility that my child will see my response as rejection? I think it's important to model standing up for and protecting myself and other people
post #7 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by prothyraia View Post
This is where I run into trouble as well. I get what he's saying when he points out that it doesn't matter how the parents MEAN something, what matters is how the child PERCEIVES it. But, at the same time, I can only control my actions- I can't completely dictate my child's perception. So, how can I establish personal boundaries/safety rules without opening up the possibility that my child will see my response as rejection? I think it's important to model standing up for and protecting myself and other people
You are right - you can only control your actions. But as an adult, you are also more accutely aware of how your actions are percieved by others (children dont know that throwing a toy hurts, they cant percieve that when they dont put their toys away they are making you really frustrated...etc..) Children merely seek out what brings them joy, and makes them happy - its their nature. Kohn also points out in this chapter thats its okay that we as parents screw up and make mistakes and get angry - because its important that our kids see as as people and not as some omnipotent authoritarian perfect person...you know?

So Im sure you know there are times when your child could use a "time out" in the sense of time to control his feelings. Sit with him, sit near him, make sure he knows your there when he is ready - that is not withholding love - that is giving the childwhat he needs so that he can go back to that place where he is happy. To merely take a child to time out, have him sit there for 10minutes screaming - thats withholding love.
post #8 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommabear207 View Post
anyways one thing i still have a problem with is dealing with my 2yr olds hitting. he seems to have periodic episodes where he just will not stop. some we have prevented by realizing hes over tired or is feeling jealous/wants attention. i'm just not sure what to do when he won't stop though. kohn gives examples of other "positive" things to say and i know its not a manual but saying hitting hurts..... doesn't make it feel any better and moving away/leaving the room not only isn't always an option but, as i understand it, would be a form of love withholding.
Hitting is a tactile thing and the underlying need can sometimes be met by providing some serious tactile stimulation. PP talks about the super tool of physical closeness. In the case of hitting the tactile need may be so great that you may need to duck the swings and get that baby up into loving strong arms with lots of rocking, singing, and soft words. I've used this with pre-school children in my work as a special ed teacher. It is so great to feel them relax into your arms. At this point my soft words would be some validation (Naomi Aldort stuff) which I'm just learning about.

I love this chapter! Down with TO's!
post #9 of 69
thanks! i think you're right on the tactile thing.even just engaging in a bit of play- like tickling etc seems to resolve ds's desire to hit. i think kohn says at some point that UC takes more effort than CP but its worth it-and i totally agree. instead of yelling and punishing we have to step back and access the situation from dc's point of view and often action and time is required and not just saying stop while attending to something else. i think this is why kohn doesn't give us a manual as each situation is different and each child and parent is different and has a different relationship. i try to keep the philosophy in mind and apply it to each situation. it also helped me to do the activity at the end-where you brainstorm solutions for a given situation before it happens-kinda a build your own arsenal.
post #10 of 69
Thread Starter 
I wish I knew what Kohn felt about time in's. We use time in to reconnect and calm down and talk about possible future solutions. I do tend to use methods from How To Talk... but later in the book Kohn begins to challenge me on doing things with the intention of "how to get my child to listen" instead of "how can I meet my child's need"
post #11 of 69
This chapter made me want to cry! Not b/c I felt guilty, but b/c I suddenly felt so bad for kids in time out! What really sucks, tho, is, before reading this book, I LOVED the Supernanny time out method. I have used it exactly as she describes it, and it has worked every time on different children to get them to behave. So much for that!

The part I had trouble wrapping my brain around was the praise part. DH and I had a long discussion about it, too. He has been managing people for most of his working life, and he disagreed w/ using NO praise at all. He said that if you offered no feedback, then you are leaving the person floundering, wondering if they are doing things correctly. I can v much see his point. Even if it is to say, "Yes, you are using the fork correctly now," you will need to provide your kids w/ SOME kind of positive feedback at SOME point in their lives or else they won't know what is going on. How irritating is it when your boss at work never gives you a performance review, even if you love the job anyway? Very irritating. I tried to explain that you do things in a social referencing way, like saying "Giving Johnny that toy made him happy. See his smile?" instead of "Nice sharing!" and dh presented me w/ the conundrum of what if the interaction is between you and the child and you are the one made happy by their action? If it is okay to say that sharing w/ Johnny made Johnny happy, then why can't you say that peeing in the potty made Daddy happy? B/c it DOES make Daddy happy when dd pees in the potty. I gave that some thought, and it does make sense, if I am approaching this from a social reference point, that it is okay sometimes to tell dd that what she has done made me happy. I am not a non-entity in her social world & her actions do affect my feelings. Once I gave the praise thing more thought I don't think that ALL praise is bad. I don't tell my daughter "good job", or things like that, anymore, but if she does something nice to/for me, I do continue to tell her "thank you" or "That was nice to do for Mommy" b/c it made me happy, and my feelings are important, too.

Another book that talks about how time out is bad and has alternate ideas is Playful Parenting by somebody Cohen (similar last name, hmm..). He is a play therapist and offers many concrete examples of things you can do w/ kids and, IF I recall correctly, talks about having meetings on the couch instead of time outs. I read the book years ago, but it is in my basement and I can look that chapter up to confirm.
post #12 of 69
Thread Starter 
im not 100% sure but I think later in the book he will get into how to provide feedback without praise? the praise is hard for me to let go too, and to fully understand.
post #13 of 69
I like the information about praise, and Kohn seems to back it up with research (though there are probably people who could quote studies that say the opposite ) but it is hard to figure out what to say ... I've been trying to move away from "good job" etc myself. I believe in How to Talk there are examples to use where you can avoid value-laden statements like "good" and "bad". IRL though, the kids are going to encounter job performance reviews in which their superiors rate their performance based on criteria that do use value judgments -- i.e. performance was good/bad (starting with grades in school). Can we 1) evaluate their performance based on merit without using subjective criteria (am I making sense? there may be more than one way to offer critique of a performance) and 2) can we make the child see that we are critiquing performance, not them?
post #14 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by dogretro View Post
The part I had trouble wrapping my brain around was the praise part. DH and I had a long discussion about it, too. He has been managing people for most of his working life, and he disagreed w/ using NO praise at all. He said that if you offered no feedback, then you are leaving the person floundering, wondering if they are doing things correctly. I can v much see his point. Even if it is to say, "Yes, you are using the fork correctly now," you will need to provide your kids w/ SOME kind of positive feedback at SOME point in their lives or else they won't know what is going on. How irritating is it when your boss at work never gives you a performance review, even if you love the job anyway? Very irritating. I tried to explain that you do things in a social referencing way, like saying "Giving Johnny that toy made him happy. See his smile?" instead of "Nice sharing!" and dh presented me w/ the conundrum of what if the interaction is between you and the child and you are the one made happy by their action? If it is okay to say that sharing w/ Johnny made Johnny happy, then why can't you say that peeing in the potty made Daddy happy? B/c it DOES make Daddy happy when dd pees in the potty. I gave that some thought, and it does make sense, if I am approaching this from a social reference point, that it is okay sometimes to tell dd that what she has done made me happy. I am not a non-entity in her social world & her actions do affect my feelings. Once I gave the praise thing more thought I don't think that ALL praise is bad. I don't tell my daughter "good job", or things like that, anymore, but if she does something nice to/for me, I do continue to tell her "thank you" or "That was nice to do for Mommy" b/c it made me happy, and my feelings are important, too.

I used to LOVE supernanny - it took a long time before I could even watch the show again. Then I figured that...for these families they were at a point where they had done things *wrong* for so long, that they needed something drastic to get things back on track..so to speak. Is there better ways to do it - yes, but this works, and at some point you just need something that works. Though I definately hate that she adamantly opposes co-sleeping and EBF.

As for praise. Its not about not providing feedback. Its about providing specific feedback. Rather than "good boy!" when they pee on the potty, something like "look, you peed on the potty for the 3rd time today" Or about letting the child determine the praise. Instead of "what a pretty drawing, good girl!" something like "what do you think of the drawing? I like the colour blue the best!" Its about being specific. You are still giving them feedback, its just more specific.

It is good for kids to know that you are proud of them, and that you enjoy what they are doing. I think the difference comes in when they think that they have to draw well, or have to pee on the potty in order for you to be happy. You should be equally able to be happy with them/for them when they do something you dont approve of. For example, when dd climbs the catpost for the umpteenth time and I have to go get her so she doesnt fall 6ft (again!), yes I am frustrated, and a little angry - but she is SO proud of herself for doing it. So I acknowledge her being proud, and how accomplished she feels, and then we redirect (she is still a little young for the talking about the "why" of stuff, but we do that too). I think kids need to be proud of their accomplishments, and we should recognize that, encourage that...etc..

In terms of making people happy (your johnny example). I attempt to deter, and this is JMO, dd from it being her job to make people happy. No one's happiness is dependant on her, and nor should it be. We do nice things for others because it makes *us* feel good. We notice that Johnny smiled, and is having fun with the ball - but I dont like things like "look how happy your actions made johnny". I dont want her to ever think that other people's happiness is her job. I know I felt that way growing up - and it sucked! That being said, Kohn never says what I believe, I just took Kohn's philosophies and applied them to thing I believe.
post #15 of 69
i've been trying to work this out too- in order to simplify-

praise seems to be a way of verbally awarding dc while positive feedback is acknowledging what dc has done.

i think the problem enters when positive feedback is being used to encourage something you want to see again in the future - its kind of a verbal twist on positive reinforcement. at least in MO- does this make sense?
post #16 of 69
i have a question about waldorf education...my dd goes to a waldorf school right now (kinder) & i have often felt that the way they discipline is quite often behaviorally based...and sometimes not-sometimes it seems unconditional. then again, much of their discipline is restraint TO's in the name of GDing, pretty much. i say but i despise being restrained cuz i had a boyf who restrained me when i'd try to break up w/ him, etc. i've been told it is different for young children...i don't know if i agree though cuz that is forcefully making the child obey....even if the teacher is holding them firmly yet 'gently' and not letting them go until they calm down. (i say just let the child be and they WILL calm down and change their tune...) unless they are hurting someone i think its uneccessary.

ie. my dd got up before her teacher called her name at the end of the morning when the kids sit in their closing circle. my dd had seen me come in & she obviously missed me and wanted to be with me. so the teacher came and got her (as my dd is kicking and screaming pretty much...heartbroken), held her (aka restrained her) and told her that when she was quiet and calm she would let her go. my heart was BREAKING and i was sooo close to going and grabbing my dd from the teachers arms. the teacher insists this is what the dc are crying out for...a safe space to just BE and calm down w/ a loving adult who cares and is patient...jeesh. i think that sounds conditional to me...obey/be nice and sweet or you can't move/do a thing. you can't even go to into your loving mama's arms...

i'll have to ponder this for today although i think i already KNOW how i feel about this, but i wanted to post this to see what some of you are feeling about it... i think waldorf tries to mask their conditional ways w/ gentle loving 'unconditional' discipline. i think now it is bogus.

i'm hoping my dd will get into one of our local public magnet schools...it is a democratic setting, mixed age...its AWESOME. no kid is forced to do a thing if they don't wish to, need space...its just great. fingers crossed...
post #17 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommabear207 View Post
i've been trying to work this out too- in order to simplify-

praise seems to be a way of verbally awarding dc while positive feedback is acknowledging what dc has done.

i think the problem enters when positive feedback is being used to encourage something you want to see again in the future - its kind of a verbal twist on positive reinforcement. at least in MO- does this make sense?
i forget what i said a few days ago...i think it was 'way to go' or something like that aka 'good job!'. i have always tried to stay away from comments like that...this time my dd (6) said she didn't want me to say that. wow! we surely need to trust our children more...they KNOW what is true love and what is not.
post #18 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Materfamilias View Post
On time outs -- boy, have I used these, and yes, as punishment, so it was pretty hard to read about it from Kohn's perspective. It seemed like t/o was the one thing I was doing that was GD -- oops. I guess one thing I'm wondering still, after finishing the book, is what's a practical alternative? I felt that Kohn blasts all the traditional stuff and has good reasons for doing so, but he's less helpful on what we should be doing instead. To his credit, he says this isn't a how-to manual somewhere, but I can't help but want some concrete techniques that work. (I've found How to Talk really good for this)
As a result of reading Kohn, I am using time out in a different way, more as an invitation to reflect/calm down than as an order, but I'm not sure that's what Kohn means
I find the whole rewards/praise thing really interesting. It makes sense, once you come to the realization that it should not be about the behavior but about the child. I'm having a heck of a time keeping that in mind, but reading Kohn has really helped in this regard.
i have also used various forms of TO's off and on thruout my dd's 6.5 years of life...well, probably not til she was about 2.5 yo but anyway...yeah, i've tried the supernanny way, the nanny 911/jon and kate plus 8 way...the ways in various parenting/discipline books and then more recently, the waldorf teacher's way whom i posted about. (all the while not feeling right about it one bit. TO's in ANY sort only make my dd freak out and so sad.) the book "raising your spirited child' feels much more like UP than any of the other mainstream books out there...

i'm not doin' TO's anymore. done w/ that.

last night my dd was sooo upset when her friends' mom showed up to p/u her dd earlier than expected...my dd went upstairs in our loft bedroom and cried loudly...wailing...i could tell her friends' mom would not allow this behavior of her dd...my dd starting throwing socks down from our missing socks basket (aka socks w/out partners) and then threw a shoe down and something else that was hard. i just simply told my dd to not throw things down, to remember we don't do that...and then i suggested to the mom and girl we duck for cover int he kitchen...i didn't yell at my dd nor make her feel badly for her raging...she obviously needed to do that and that is fine w/ me as long as no one gets hurt and nothing is broken.

so my dd's friend and mom leave and my dd opens the window that faces their car & i hear her yell out "I HATE YOU!!!" to the mom. she had also been cussing up a storm upstairs saying she hated M and the grandma, too, who often is w/ my dd's friend and makes decisions as well. hopefully the mom didn't hear that or take offense. yikes! i did tell dd that that kind of talk is VERY hurtful and inappropriate. but i can't expect my dd to know how to cool her jets yet when i'm just working on cooling mine. gee i wonder where she learned to be so verbally viscious and spiteful?

its hard also when other parents don't discipline (or truly love in the UP way...) their kids in this way... i sure wish i lived in a UP community. wouldn't that be so grand!

my ds is watching the backyardigans...there was a princess or something and she wasn't welcoming the love of one of the guys on there...the princess said off with him to her servants...take him to the dungeon! something like that...then the guy said but we like you...and she softened. it was really neat to see that. just simply, we LIKE YOU. she probably thought they wanted something of her, from her......it reminded me of UPing... :

reading thru beginning of ch 2 & will be back.
post #19 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommabear207 View Post
i've been trying to work this out too- in order to simplify-

praise seems to be a way of verbally awarding dc while positive feedback is acknowledging what dc has done.

i think the problem enters when positive feedback is being used to encourage something you want to see again in the future - its kind of a verbal twist on positive reinforcement. at least in MO- does this make sense?
oh darn it. i had typed out this whole reply to this and i lost it...grrr technology! :

lets see what did i write...well basically i am wondering the same thing. even simply observing & expressing/acknowledging what we see in what our child does or even what they don't do (ie. looks like you aren't in the mood/aren't ready to pick up your dolls... or ie. you sure are getting big...you took both dogs out to pee all by yourself this time...) seems like it may be manipulative like PP said in being related to what we wish to see in our dc's behavior...or maybe just simply validating where the child is in regards to whatever... hmmm. this is a toughy to deschool myself on... i completely get what you are saying here...

is expressing appreciation ok? if i say something to my dc like, "i appreciate your help w/ the recycling" or somethinng...

i look forward to input.

ps-i hope i'm not offending anyone w/ my multiple posts here...i'm just catching up on this chapter and in re. to the discussion going on. hugs.
post #20 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by poiyt View Post
I used to LOVE supernanny - it took a long time before I could even watch the show again. Then I figured that...for these families they were at a point where they had done things *wrong* for so long, that they needed something drastic to get things back on track..so to speak. Is there better ways to do it - yes, but this works, and at some point you just need something that works. Though I definately hate that she adamantly opposes co-sleeping and EBF.

.
i didn't know supernanny is against ebf and cosleeping...well figures, she isn't even a MOTHER. pfff.

i'm surprised she is in wondertime magazine...they glamorize her like she is so great...some expert. what a JOKE.
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