Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Challenges: NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | OmniLit* (different edition) | iTunes* (different edition) | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb from goodreads:
Somehow, deeply conservative assumptions about how children behave and how parents raise them have become the conventional wisdom in our society. It’s widely assumed that parents are both permissive and overprotective, unable to set limits and afraid to let their kids fail. We’re told that young people receive trophies, praise, and A’s too easily, and suffer from inflated self esteem and insufficient self-discipline. However, complaints about pushover parents and entitled kids are actually decades old and driven, it turns out, by ideology more than evidence.
With the same lively, contrarian style of Alfie Kohn’s bestselling books about rewards, competition, and traditional education, The Myth of the Spoiled Child systematically debunks the story that we hear with numbing regularity. Kohn uses humor, logic, and his familiarity with a vast range of social science data to challenge media-stoked fears of spoiling our children. He reveals that the major threat to healthy child development isn’t parents who are too indulgent but those who are too controlling.
This was my first time reading Kohn but I've heard about him for years. I also have another book of his in my professional TBR pile. He's a revolutionary, and incendiary, figure in early childhood education. The book challenged me, my beliefs, and my thinking; rarely a bad thing. I found I disagreed with a lot of what he said but he did make me think and there were points that I did agree with.
Kohn tackles common beliefs about children and education and some behaviors and events that have been dubbed in the mainstream media as problems. He points out that parents and educators have been complaining about children for thousands of years. He then goes on to tackle current issues such as concerns that today's children are coddled, whether helicopter are really a problem, etc. He examines how mainstream media discusses these issues and then proceeds to explain, citing multiple studies and sources. What he doesn't do is offer much in the of substantial alternatives to how parents and educators. He describes how he thinks they should behave and what he believes is a better perspective but he doesn't offer practical, real world suggestions and solutions. Kohn believes that traditional parenting is about forcing compliance, instead of guiding them to develop internal values and discipline. He believes, and has written other books on, how external rewards, punishments, and discipline hurt our children instead of helping him. I found myself nodding to much of that and agreeing with much of it. I often disagreed however, and yes it seems contradictory, with his take on current behavior management and issues. What can I say, it's a complex subject that doesn't have one size fits all answers.
Kohn is frequently acerbic and sarcastic and he writes in a take no prisoners approach. No one is safe from his spears - liberals, conservatives, media, schools, families, etc. He puts them all under his microscope and then details what he sees as their flaws. His thinking is definitely not for the faint of heart and his logic didn't always work for me but his approach is extremely respectful of children and that's an attitude I greatly respect. The material is often dense, it's not a quick read, and at times my attention wandered, but it's worth the slog.
I would recommend this book to anyone with a concern for raising and/or educating children. Whether you agree with Kohn or not, he offers a provocative perspective and challenges your assumptions, especially those you haven't given much conscious thought to.