Parenting: What unconditional love really looks like

The Myth of the Spoiled Child
“The Myth of the Spoiled Child” is education and parenting expert Alfie Kohn’s 13th book.
Credit: Provided

Kids today are more entitled, lazy and coddled than ever before, right? It’s a common belief, and it’s one that education and parenting expert Alfie Kohn is trying to dispel.

“When evidence and logic go one way, but practices and beliefs are pointing somewhere else, that’s something that has always interested me,” he tells us.

In an attempt to reverse the belief that children today are spoiled rotten, Kohn wrote a book called “The Myth of the Spoiled Child,” out now.

Kohn’s belief isn’t that it’s impossible to spoil a child; he says it’s of course possible to shower children unnecessarily with too many gifts. He just doesn’t like that many parents believe their kids have to “earn” their praise.

“Praise is a way of saying to kids they have to jump through hoops, and then we’ll give them a ‘good job’ or a high five,” Kohn laments. He stresses that praise shouldn’t be contingent on accomplishments and that developing positive self-esteem shouldn’t depend on being successful; it should be unconditional.

He holds this same stance when it comes to punishment as well. Instead of trying to control a child using punishments and rewards, Kohn says parents should work with their child, bringing them in on making decisions. “So when a child does something wrong, it’s a problem to be solved — not an infraction to be punished,” he says.

Of course this type of parenting requires more patience and giving up control, which many parents are hesitant to do, so “The Myth of the Spoiled Child” includes some broad ideas on how to do this and what it looks like.

The heart of Kohn’s philosophy all comes down to unconditional love. Whether you agree or disagree with his parenting methods, that’s something everyone can get behind.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence



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