All links on this page are affiliate links. I cannot recommend Alfie Kohn’s books highly enough. I hope you buy one and love it as much as I do!
I saw Kohn speak once, and he asked the audience what adjectives we would want to hear describing our kids. Like other audiences elsewhere, we gave words like happy, successful, intelligent, independent, generous, and kind. No one ever answers that question with words like obedient, docile, or conforming. And yet, if you look at most traditional parenting tactics, you might assume those were the goals!
Alfie Kohn takes traditional parenting advice and turns it on it’s head using his provocative style and the latest research. If what you want with your kids is a cooperative, respectful, joyful relationship, Kohn will help you shift your perspective.
Here are just a few of the Alfie Kohn books I recommend (descriptions are from Amazon):
More than just another book about discipline…Unconditional Parenting addresses the ways parents think about, feel about, and act with their children. It invites them to question their most basic assumptions about raising kids while offering a wealth of practical strategies for shifting from “doing to” to “working with” parenting—including how to replace praise with the unconditional support that children need to grow into healthy, caring, responsible people. This is an eye-opening, paradigm-shattering book that will reconnect readers to their own best instincts and inspire them to become better parents.
The basic strategy we use for raising children, teaching students, and managing workers can be summarized in six words: Do this and you’ll get that. We dangle goodies (from candy bars to sales commissions) in front of people in much the same way we train the family pet. Drawing on a wealth of psychological research, Alfie Kohn points the way to a more successful strategy based on working with people instead of doing things to them. “Do rewards motivate people?” asks Kohn. “Yes. They motivate people to get rewards.” Seasoned with humor and familiar examples, Punished By Rewards presents an argument unsettling to hear but impossible to dismiss.
In this 10th anniversary edition of an ASCD best seller, author Alfie Kohn reflects on his revolutionary ideas in the context of today’s emphasis on school accountability and high-stakes testing. Find out how his innovative approach- where teachers learn to work with students, rather than do things to them-has withstood the test of time and helped educators create positive learning environments that prevent discipline problems from occurring. Using examples of real teachers dealing with common behavior problems, Kohn explains Why classroom management approaches that rely on rewards and punishments actually prolong behavior problems. How to turn misbehavior into teaching opportunities. Why changing your curriculum can solve discipline problems.
Somehow a set of deeply conservative assumptions about children—what they’re like and how they should be raised—has congealed into the conventional wisdom in our society. Parents are accused of being both permissive and overprotective, unwilling to set limits and afraid to let their kids fail. Alfie Kohn systematically debunks these beliefs, not only challenging erroneous factual claims but also exposing the troubling ideology that underlies them. Complaints about pushover parents and coddled kids are hardly new, he shows, and there is no evidence that either phenomenon is especially widespread today—let alone more common than in previous generations. Moreover, new research reveals that helicopter parenting is quite rare and, surprisingly, may do more good than harm when it does occur. The major threat to healthy child development, Kohn argues, is parenting that is too controlling rather than too indulgent.
Kohn builds a powerful argument against the “back to basics” philosophy of teaching and simplistic demands to “raise the bar.” Drawing on stories from real classrooms and extensive research, Kohn shows parents, educators, and others interested in the debate how schools can help students explore ideas rather than filling them with forgettable facts and preparing them for standardized tests.
Here at last is a book that challenges the two dominant forces in American education: an aggressive nostalgia for traditional teaching (“If it was bad enough for me, it’s bad enough for my kids”) and a heavy-handed push for Tougher Standards.