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Unconditional Parenting support thread

post #1 of 367
Thread Starter 
Is there any interest in this?

Here are the thirteen principles of Unconditional Parenting:

1. Be reflective.
2. Reconsider your requests.
3. Keep your eye on your long term goals.
4. Put the relationship first.
5. Change how you see, not just how you act.
6. R-e-s-p-e-c-t.
7. Be authentic.
8. Talk less, ask more.
9. Keep their ages in mind.
10. "Attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts."
11. Don't stick your no's in unnecessarily.
12. Don't be rigid.
13. Don't be in a hurry.
post #2 of 367
Yes. There is! UP is so counter to the prevailing parenting style that it gets to be really difficult to distinguish at times whether I'm being UP or just "spoiling" them, KWIM?

#13 is actually the hardest one for me many days. I feel like I need to start getting them into the car 2 hours before we need to go, just to avoid the struggle.
post #3 of 367
Great idea!
post #4 of 367
Thread Starter 
I think #11-#13 give me the most trouble. I probably do all three at once, sometimes--a rigid, hurrying, no-spewing mommy.

#11 is so, so tough. It does make SUCH a difference, though, to always allow more time, to be conscious of rushing when there's nothing to rush to. So it takes twenty minutes to walk down from the bus stop...we have no pressing engagements.
post #5 of 367
Originally Posted by BetsyNY View Post
I think #11-#13 give me the most trouble. I probably do all three at once, sometimes--a rigid, hurrying, no-spewing mommy.

#11 is so, so tough. It does make SUCH a difference, though, to always allow more time, to be conscious of rushing when there's nothing to rush to. So it takes twenty minutes to walk down from the bus stop...we have no pressing engagements.
Definitely. I am trying to be VERY conscious of this these days. When we get home from somewhere, unless I have to pee very badly, I try not to sweat the 20 minutes it takes to get from the driveway to the front door, because they have to pick clover flowers, dandelions, and rocks, and point out every spiderweb in the yard. Man, is it hard to slow down, though! But I hope it makes up for the mornings when I might as well be poking them with a cattle prod saying "We're going to be late...don't you want to go to Gymboree? Mr. Dan is waiting for you! Can I just carry you to the car? Come on don't you want to go have fun?" I probably annoy them as much as they do me in those cases.
post #6 of 367
Yes, very interested! My DS is only 9 months old, but I need to get in the right mindset for when he gets older and I really need to apply these principles.
post #7 of 367
I'm interested! My DD is 14 months, so we don't run into many parenting issues. Mostly it's tantrums when she's tired- and those are completely preventable and come with warning signs!
post #8 of 367
I'm also eager to learn more. I just picked up Connection Parenting by Pam Leo and will start it this weekend. Any other good suggestions? I think the hardest for me will be # 12 and #13. I often find myself wanting to stick to routines and meet my "deadlines" which of course isn't really working out all that well is a not-quite 2 year old.
post #9 of 367
post #10 of 367
I have trouble with ALL of them
I'm working on it, but I find lately it's my overall mindset I need to change, rather than the individual things/practices. When I first read Kohn I kept thinking, "OK, great philosophy, but I need techniques, man!"
More and more I'm getting that I need to make the philosophical jump before I can move on to practice, so Kohn is making more sense all the time.
Thanks for posting the list. It's going on the fridge tomorrow.
post #11 of 367
I am in! I generally avoid this forum because I get intimidated and feel guilty too much, but The incredible years parenting course I have been taking has really changed my mindset. It generally follows UP principles.

I have the biggest problem with the no hurrying one. My goodness, I wish my 4 year old would just pick up the pace sometimes!
post #12 of 367
Originally Posted by Materfamilias View Post
More and more I'm getting that I need to make the philosophical jump before I can move on to practice, so Kohn is making more sense all the time.
I find myself recommending Kohn more & more because of this gap between theory & practice--moms not wanting to punish but otherwise using language that suggests a goal of obedience or control over the child's behavior.

It IS hard to parent this way 100% of the time, especially when having been parented very differently. I've been channeling cliches from my own parents lately--UGH--and I'll say, wait, that's not me--that's my mother talking... I think this very act of minffulness--pausing, seeing myself, questioning my motives, being willing to look at the situation differently and change the scenario in mid-course makes a big difference. At least I hope so!
post #13 of 367
I read UP ages ago - so I just copied and pasted that wonderful list for my fridge! As pp mentioned, it seemed to philosophical when I read it before, but now I keep reminding dh and myself to think before I respond/react. Very difficult sometimes!
post #14 of 367
I try to do UP, but I am flailing in discipline, especially with my oldest, who is defiant and has major meltdowns at home and at school.
post #15 of 367
Article about unconditionality:

I'm so happy to have found this--thanks to Jan Hunt's Natural Child website..
post #16 of 367
I'm interested, too! I really enjoyed this book and found that it really spoke to me and justified a lot of my feelings about parenting.

Here is some more info that I put together when we had a discussion in my local natural families group:

Unconditional Parenting - Guiding Principles:
BE REFLECTIVE: Be introspective and willing to question yourself, strive to improve and better understand yourself.
2. RECONSIDER YOUR REQUESTS: Are your requests unreasonable? Does your child really need to make the bed, eat vegetables, or practice the piano? Will they dislike this later because they are forced to do it now?
3. KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS: Evaluate your goals on a regular basis, try to think long-term instead of short.
4. PUT THE RELATIONSHIP FIRST: “Being right isn’t necessarily what matters.” When they trust us, they are more likely to tell us when something is important to them. If you have to do something that will strain the relationship, make sure it is worth it.
5. CHANGE HOW YOU SEE, NOT JUST HOW YOU ACT: Think in terms of problem solving and teaching/learning opportunities instead of infractions needing consequences.
6. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: They may understand more than we do, especially regarding their own feelings and needs. Don’t assume you know better just because you are older and more experienced.
7. BE AUTHENTIC: Be human, it is OK to feel insecure, tired, sad, nervous, etc. Let them see that adults disagree with each other and can respectfully resolve problems or tolerate differences in opinion. Admit to mistakes and apologize. (Don’t tell them age-inappropriate things, though.)
8. TALK LESS, ASK MORE: Elicit ideas, objections, feelings; allow freedom, independence, power, expression of fears, etc. Create a sense of safety, listen without judging. Ask thought provoking questions, not one-answer or rhetorical questions, and be open for unexpected answers.
9. KEEP THEIR AGES IN MIND: Keep your expectations developmentally appropriate (age, special needs, personal limitations).
10. ATTRIBUTE TO CHILDREN THE BEST POSSIBLE MOTIVES CONSISTENT WITH THE FACTS: Our beliefs can create a self-fulfilling prophecy – give the benefit of the doubt, especially for younger children.
11. DON’T STICK YOUR “NOs” IN UNNECESSARILY: Don’t say “No” unless it is necessary for safety. Say yes to wants whenever possible, while still respecting your own wants and making decisions based on the situation. Pick your battles. Be as mindful as possible, not on “autoparent.”
12. DON’T BE RIGID: Wave rules on special occasions, make exceptions, be flexible and spontaneous. In general, be predictable, but don’t overdo it.
13. DON’T BE IN A HURRY: Rushing makes coersion more likely. Alter your environment instead of behavior. Enjoy your time together.

What do you do when your children act in ways that are disturbing or inappropriate, and want to let them know that we disapprove?
- Limit the number of criticisms
- Limit the scope of each criticism – make sure you criticize a certain action instead of implying that there is something wrong with the child
- Limit the intensity of each criticism, be as gentle as possible while making sure that the message gets across. Be aware of body language, facial expressions, and tone/volume of voice
- Look for alternatives to criticism – help see effects of action, how it may hurt others or make their lives difficult
- State what you see, give opportunities to think about how to make things better, restore, repair, replace, clean up, apologize, etc.

When they Have To but Don’t Want To:
1. Use the least intrusive strategy, be as gentle and kind as possible, don’t overwhelm them with your power. Don’t get pulled into a struggle – request and move away (requires self-restraint).
2. Be honest with them.
3. Explain the rationale.
4. Turn it into a game.
5. Set an Example – clean up after yourself, turn off the lights.
6. Give them as much of a choice as possible.

Key Phrases:
How we feel about our kids isn’t as important as how they experience those feelings and how they regard the way we treat them. (The message received, not the message we thing we’re sending.)

Children shouldn’t have to earn our approval, we should love them for no good reason and it is important for them to believe and percieve this, too. Love should not be based on behavior, achievment or performance.

Our default position ought to be to let our kids make decisions about matters that concern them except when there is a compelling reason for us to override that right. We should be prepared to justify why, in each case, kids shouldn’t be allowed to choose.

Move from doing things TO kids to doing things WITH kids.

Think about long-term goals a LOT, reevaluate regularly.

Reconsider your basic assumptions about parent-child relationships – how we act with children, how we think and feel about them.

Behaviors are just the outward expression of feelings, needs, thoughts, and intentions. Work with the child, not the behavior.

The dominant problem with parenting in our society isn’t permissiveness, but the FEAR of permissiveness.

It may not be possible for kids to feel unconditionally loved ALL of the time, but we should strive for as much of the time as possible.

Give special treats or gifts periodically for NO reason.

Take special delight when a child does something remarkable but not in a way that suggests that your love hinges on such events.

The way kids learn to make good decisions is by making decisions, not following directions.

The question isn’t whether limits and rules are necessary, but who sets them – adults alone or adults and children together.

Kids should be allowed to make decisions about things that are important to us adults.

Kids who are encouraged to become actively involved in decision-making tend to exhibit higher-level moral reasoning.

Help children develop reasons to support their own views, even if we don’t agree with those views.

Children will experience plenty of frustration without us having to impose it on them as a “learning experience.”

Unconditional parents are just as proud of their child even when their child does NOT succeed.

Children need our support when they experience failure MORE than when they feel success.

Speak with words AND actions, especially during a conflict. “No matter what you do, no matter how frustrated I feel, I will never, never, never stop loving you.”

Goal: AVOID battles, not WIN them.

If it becomes necessary to remove the child from a situation, do not remove the child from yourself, also.

There is a difference between sending a child away against their will and giving a child the OPTION to go to their room or some other inviting space when they are angry or upset – they have control over when they go/return, where they go, and what to do; this can be a helpful tool.

Kids will know when we are displeased, we must strive to communicate in different ways that our basic acceptance of them is a given.

There is a danger that by lavishing children with positive reinforcement when they succeed, that they perceive that our love is based on what they have done, not who they are.

When kids brainstorm, they think of ideas we never would have and they are more likely to go along with their own ideas.

Kids who know most things are negotiable are less likely to challenge every decision.

If you are in public, ignore everyone around you – it is not about what people think, it is about what your child needs.

Imagine how the situation looks from the child’s point of view – the child may be afraid of his/her rage and lack of control. Keep him/her safe from harm, THEN worry about other people and LAST property. Provide comfort and reassurance.

Healthy Toddlers show a bit of noncompliance, but gradually cooperate.

Let child know that he/she doesn’t have to argue as well as you do in order to be taken seriously, and you want to help him/her learn how to frame arguments more convincingly. “Respectfully talking back.”

Moral sophistication, cognitive flexibility and the capacity to care about others aren’t luxuries, and are NOT mutually exclusive with basic survival skills and street smarts. We want our kids to have all of these things.

Unconditional love, relationships based on respect and trust, opportunities for kids to participate in making decisions, etc. may be MOST important for kids who are growing up in tough neighborhoods.

Sometimes the best alternative to black and white isn’t gray, but orange.
post #17 of 367
Originally Posted by L'lee View Post
I'm interested, too! I really enjoyed this book and found that it really spoke to me and justified a lot of my feelings about parenting.

Here is some more info that I put together when we had a discussion in my local natural families group:
Wow. That's really great.

Y'know, if you submitted it to a parenting magazine (hmm, Mothering springs to mind for some reason ) and it got published, I could recommend it to other people. Just saying...
post #18 of 367
Oh, thanks! Really the credit goes to Alfie Kohn, I just copied things out of the book that seemed especially meaningful! They are pretty much direct quotes. I need to print out another copy and put it on the fridge.

At first I was feeling like it was really hard to apply these to a 1 year old even though I do like to talk to him about what's going on and pay attention to his needs and preferences and I think that's one of the most important things at that age. Now that my son is 3 years old it seems that I can put more of these things into practice, although sometimes I feel like I'm much better at the theory than the actual practice! I think that it would be very helpful to have some discussion!

I think that one of the positives that is also a negative about this book is that there is a lot of theory, but not much in terms of "How To's" - you HAVE to be creative.
post #19 of 367
Ooh I'd love to join you all--I'll post more tomorrow!
post #20 of 367
Hi, I would like to join as well. I had a situation the other day that really through me. My son who has just turned six was having a hard time ending the day. It was nearly 10 pm and he was dying to go outside and do his alka seltzer and water rockets. After saying no, I thought about it and since we homeschool and we didn't have to be anywhere the next am I decided to let him do a couple. Well, he just wanted to keep going. So finally that was it and he came in and he was MAD! Wow! He stormed into our room (we co-sleep) and climbed into bed and suddenly my dh and I hear blaring music pouring out of the room. He had figured out the clock radio and is just staring at me. I turned the music off. He turned it on and got right in my face. No! Leave it alone! Get out of here!

I didn't know what to do. I felt kind of paralyzed. He was challenging me in a way that I didn't know how to respond to. I know that if this had been me when I was a kid, I would have received a spanking, been shamed for talking that way to my parents and the radio would be shut down.

I thought about taking the radio away, but I really didn't want to do that unless I had to. I just kept looking at him, with this blaring music in the background. He just kept staring at me, with this intense angry look. As I looked at him, my little guy who's just turned six; and this heavy hard music blaring; I said are you six or sixteen? And somehow, I started to laugh. He then started to laugh. We both fell on the bed laughing. Then I turned the radio off. He jumped off. Leave it on! But by this time something had shifted in me. I said Ok, you can listen to it for five minutes, and then I'm coming in and it is going off.

I left the room and went out to dh. As I listened to the music blaring, I started to get confused again and I was actually a bit nervous about how I wanted to handle the situation. I was ready to take the clock radio away, but I really didnt' want to. After about seven minutes I went in, he was almost fast asleep. I turned it off - and he said no, it's only three minutes. I said, no, it's past five minutes. He said, did you see that when you left I turned it up. I said "no, I didn't see that." He said, "I didn't want you to know." I said, "well, I didn't" He then said, can you give me a light massage? We do this massage where I get him to imagine a ball of light relaxing him. I said, "yes," I gave him the massage. He said, "mummy, I love you." I said "I love you to" And it felt good saying this, as I felt I was saying I love you even when ... He pretty much fell fast asleep in my arms.

So, while I didn't know what to do, somehow I think the unconditional parenting premise of remembering the relationship really helped.

Originally Posted by L'lee View Post
I'm interested, too! I really enjoyed this book and found that it really spoke to me and justified a lot of my feelings about parenting.

Here is some more info that I put together when we had a discussion in my local natural families group:
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