Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Myth of the Spoiled Child.

Alfie Kohn is a prolific author who writes a strong critique of education and parenting. His many books and articles include The Homework Myth and Unconditional Parenting and the Case against Grades. 

His newest offering is The Myth of the Spoiled Child:Challenging the conventional wisdom about Children and Parenting.

From the book Flap
Somehow, a set of deeply conservative assumptions about children -- what they're like and how they should be raised -- have 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.  Young people, meanwhile, are routinely described as entitled and narcissistic. . . among other unflattering adjectives.    
In The Myth of the Spoiled Child, 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 posed by parenting that is too controlling rather than too indulgent.   
With the same lively, contrarian style that marked his influential books about rewards, competition, and education, Kohn relies on a vast collection of social science data, as well as on logic and humor, to challenge assertions that appear with numbing regularity in the popular press.  These include claims that young people suffer from inflated self-esteem; that they receive trophies, praise, and A's too easily; and that they would benefit from more self-discipline and "grit."  These conservative beliefs are often accepted without question, even by people who are politically liberal.  Kohn's invitation to reexamine our assumptions is particularly timely, then; his book has the potential to change our culture's conversation about kids and the people who raise them. 
My Review
I really enjoyed reading this perspective. I think Kohn has hit the nail on the head. So often, kids are described as indulgent and entitled. Indeed, he shows it is not a new phenomenon but rather a belief that has been felt by adults since at least the 1950's. This shows that our attitude towards children seems to stem from a rather cynical view of children, rather than children being parented wrongly.

Using a vast array of social studies data Kohn shows the method behind the madness and what is to be done. I think the research done in the book demonstrates a deep understanding of children. To that end, this book should be read by parents and educators.  Of course, you may disagree with him but I do feel like there is a lot of validity to his statements.

This book is engaging and well written. It is an easy to read book, but is beyond simple. As well, the research is great. Perhaps as a millennial I see this phenomenon too easily- we were always judged for being narcissistic and not caring about the world at large. The Myth of The Spoiled Child adds to the discussion. As well, it is a great addition to your library!
5 stars!

Links to Goodreads and Amazon

Thanks Netgalley ~ 

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