I’ve always admired Alfie Kohn’ s willingness to question the status quo and find new answers. Here is a synopsis of what Working With Children means from his book Unconditional Parenting. Here is his home page https://www.alfiekohn.org/
The Discipline Model of Working With Children
Rather than Doing To Children
Source: Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn © 2005
“Working with” children involves a warm and secure relationship between parents and children. Parents treat them with respect, minimize the use of control, and make a point of offering reasons and explanations for what they ask for. Parents and children address conflicts by solving problems together which develops strong family bonds and concern for others. This is based on expressing love unconditionally rather than expressing love only when children cooperate.
“It’s harder to make sure children feel loved unconditionally than it is just to love them. It’s harder to respond to them in all their complexity than it is to focus just on their behaviors. It’s harder to try to solve problems with them, to give them reasons for doing the right thing (let alone to help them formulate their own reasons), than it is to control them with carrots and sticks. “Working with” asks more of us than does “doing to.”
“Doing to” children is based on beliefs such as children are not valuable as persons in their own right until they become adults; that they’ll just take advantage and get away with as much as they can and do as little as they can. A child is judged and loved conditionally based on their successes rather than loved and cared for who they are. An additional assumption is that without the addition of some coercive enforcement mechanism, children will ignore the most important people in their world, the adults that care for them. Current research defies these assumptions.
“As with conditional love, tight control can sometimes yield results in the short run, but at the cost of fatally damaging our relationships with our children over time.”
“Our main question shouldn’t be “How do I get my child to do what I say?” but “What does my child need – and how can I meet those needs?”
Guiding Principles for working with children
- Reconsider your requests.
- Keep your eye on your long-term goals.
- Put the relationship first.
- Change how you see, not just how you act.
- Be authentic.
- Talk less, act more.
- Keep their ages in mind.
- Be reflective
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.
What parts of this lists do you focus on or would you like to improve on?
2013 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking and private parenting coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. She works with parents of 4 – 24 year-old children. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with your children.