Parenting Best Practices

Cecilia and Jason Hilkey wrote:

I felt like I struck a gold mine when I sat down and read Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. Summarized here is what I found in his book. We highly recommend his book for anyone who, like us, needed proof. If you want any more information about where this research comes from–get your hands on his book. Even the footnotes are interesting (says Cecilia – Jason thinks “interesting footnotes” is an oxymoron).

Here’s what Kohn says about parenting “best practices”:

Research shows that kids are more likely to do what they are told when parents:

1 Don’t rely on power (time outs, bribes, threats, rewards, etc.)

2 Have a warm and secure relationship with them

3 Treat them with respect

4 Minimize control

5 Offer reasons and explanations

6 Are sensitive, accepting and cooperative with their children

7 Are clear about their request and listen to their children’s objections

8 Accommodate their children’s objections in a way that conveys respect for their autonomy and individuality

In the research children are less likely to do what they are told when their parents:

1 Impose their will on the child

2 Interrupt him arbitrarily

3 Disregard his needs, wishes or the activity in progress

4 Are commanding, criticizing or praising

Research shows that children with supportive and warm parents are also more likely to do what their parents want, even when they are not in the room or when they are following the directions of an adult that is not their parents (like a teacher or relative).

Isn’t that cool? This means that being warm and supportive with your children helps them at home when you’re not around and when they are outside your home-at school, during extra curricular activities, and at friends’ houses.

Does this mean that children with warm parents are always cooperative? No, of course not. These children sometimes say ‘yes’ and they sometimes say ‘no’ (especially during toddler and teen years). And often these kids do what they are asked, especially when it is reasonable, respectful and important to the person asking.

Does this mean that being a warm parent means that you just sit back and let the kids raise themselves? NO! Warm parents offer guidance, set limits, empower their children rather than force conformity, and use respect and understanding rather than coercion.

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