Unconditional Parenting p.55

When we make children feel powerless, forcing them to submit to our will, this often generates intense anger, and just because that anger can’t be expressed at the moment doesn’t mean it disappears. What happens to it depends on the child’s personality and the specifics of the situation. Sometimes the result is more battles with the parent. As author Nancy Samalin comments, even “when we ‘win,’ we lose. When we make children obey by force, threats, or punishment, we make them feel helpless. They can’t stand feeling helpless, so they provoke another confrontation to prove they still have some power.” And where do they learn how to use that power? From us. Not only does authoritarian parenting make them mad; it also teaches them how to direct that anger against another person.

Such children may grow up with a constant need to thumb their noses at authority figures. Sometimes they bring all that hostility with them to school or the playground…

And sometimes, if a child is afraid of defying you to your face, he’ll figure out a way to do it behind your back. Lay-down-the-law parenting may produce kids who seem to be so well behaved as to be the envy of the neighbors. Often, however, they’ve just learned to be sneakier about their misbehavior, which sometimes turns out to be appallingly mean-spirited.

 

Alfie Kohn – Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason p.55

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