SFP 21: Unconditional Parenting with Alfie Kohn

Unconditional Parenting

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This is episode 21 and today I’m here with Alfie Kohn talking about unconditional parenting.

Alfie is the author of 14 books on education, parenting, and human behavior, including Punished by Rewards (1993/2018), The Schools Our Children Deserve (1999), Unconditional Parenting (2005), The Homework Myth (2006), and The Myth of the Spoiled Child (2014). He has appeared twice on “Oprah,” as well as on “The Today Show” and many other TV and radio programs. He works with educators and parents across the country and speaks regularly at national conferences. He lives (actually) in the Boston area and (virtually) at

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Define: Alfie explains the difference between conditional and unconditional parenting.

Goals: We speak to the common, overlooked conflict between short-term and long-term goals.

Rewards and Punishments: We discuss how rewards and punishments actually undermine our true goals.

Praise: We go over why praise is not helpful.

Choices: He explains the difference between using choices as a manipulative tool of control and authentically empowering children with autonomy.

Childism: We end with what we can do to combat the pervasive disrespect for children in our culture.


I tackle this question from Abbey: “We’re taught that power is a zero sum game. How do we flip this on its head in moments of struggle? How do we help our children feel powerful and allow ourselves to feel powerful at the same time?”

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