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February 27, 2007



I have read portions of this book. While some of his philosophy is right on, I have to say that if you don't ever model the appropriate behavior, how will they ever learn not to do things? You raise some valid points, though. And, as a special education teacher and the mother of two boys with special needs, I have to say I've tried snippets of every kind of approach. I think the answer to parenting is to do your research, find out what you are comfy with and then do what works for your family. No book or expert has THE answer. You just have to do what works for you.


PS - what happened to the other post? I know I read something two days ago about family relations...

Emmie (Better Make It A Double)

Really great post. This was so helpful for me, as I'd been a bit confused by all this. I'm on an AP e-mail list that's always interesting, as I'm not so much of an AP mom in the end, but I am a "non-mainstream thinker" in a lot ways, so I find the ideas helpful sometimes. There's a minority of moms on the list that are devoted Kohn followers. While I still disagree with their approach (and it's resultant dictates about how playgroups should "run") your post was very hlepful for me in seeing some of the good things that Kohn has to share with us. My conclusion is similar also, though I'm glad I didn't have to suffer through a 2 week experiment first. Thank you!



I wrote the "forgiveness" post specifically to fill my own needs, not to have it potentially hurt family members (who were unlikely to read it at the time due to hospitalization). Its now hidden in the archives. If you want to read it, I'll email you the link.

Emmie (Better Make It A Double)

I've been thinking about your post all day, and responded with my own here:


I just came over here from Emmie's blog. Thanks for this post - it's the blast of sanity I needed to make it through today!


What a great post. I have almost-2-yr old twins and I would have a hard time doing this experiment with them. I suspect it would be different if they'd always been raised that way, or if they met a new caretaker who 'parented' that way -- but I think a complete change to the way I relate to them at this age would be a disaster. The 'monkey' example all day, every day.

However . . . with my 9-yr-old? A lot of this reminds me of the unschooling lists I'm on. The ideas resonate with me quite a bit, but I have the hardest time trying them out and sticking with it for more than 24 hours.


What a great post. I came over here from Emmie, and really enjoyed your thoughts on behaviorism vs. Kohn. My twins are still under 1, so life is all about baby proofing right now, but I plan to tuck this post away and re-read it when I need a blast of sanity in the future.


Sounds like it's all in the realm of "positive discipline" and "talk so kids will listen/listen so kids will talk."

I got challenged via this Kohn stuff on my blog when I explained how we go out of our way to overtly praise Nat for her beauty AS a Black girl FOR her Black features.

But I think that's a really different issue in many ways. One big one is obviously race--which is another kind of privilege like the class issues you mention here.

Frankly I'm a big fan of the positive discipline approach. I use the Kohn strategies you mention about 75% of the time. I believe that telling someone what to do without giving them the information they need to handle it themselves next time is not very helpful. But "next time" may take a few times with a toddler. So meanwhile, I do a lot of the behaviorism stuff you mention, too.

I do try to say not just "good job!" but "you worked hard on that and you did it!" or "you practiced and practiced and now you can do it!" or--in the event of failure, "you tried hard but this isn't easy!" I still say "good job!" a lot too, though, and I don't think Nat will keel over from my empty praise. Nat really loves praise. She loves to be cheered and is quite generous about cheering others in turn. When a song is over on the ipod, she claps and says "yea!" It's one way of expressing happiness and pleasure and love.

I think you're really right about it being a balance--and every technique doesn't work equally well on all children, in all situations, at all ages and all social positions.


I got here via a series of links. Great post. I have always dismissed Kohn - he has some valid points, but it bothers me that he presents them as being radically different from behavioral parenting. He reduces behaviorism to mindless punishment and rewards, ignoring the listening and observing that most parents do before shaping and offering feedback.

My parents were very loosy-goosy and my sisters and I were brats who understood that other family members and friends didn't much like us and thought we were horribly behaved, but weren't sure why or how to change that until we got to be 9 or 10. That sucked. That's one thing that never gets mentioned - no matter how unconditionally your parents love you and your tantrums and tyrannical behavior, the rest of the world won't fall in line, and yeah, kids notice when other people avoid them.

One thing I always wanted for my kids was the knowledge of how to behave in a way that made people gravitate towards them and approve of them, and we used behaviorism to accomplish that. Sometimes it was just pointing out natural consequences of good behavior. (there are a lot - it's NICE to be invited places and know people are happy to see you!)

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