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Myth of the Spoiled Child
In my latest book, The Myth of the Spoiled Child, I grapple with the odd fact that even political liberals seem to have accepted deeply conservative beliefs about what children are like and how they should be raised, repeating canards about inflated self-esteem and helicopter parenting and the need for grit.
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From Alfie's Website
Somehow, a set of deeply conservative assumptions about childrenwhat they're like and how they should be raisedhave 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 beliefsnot 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 todaylet 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, John 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 As 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.
From the Publisher
"A wise and passionate bookby one of the best friends our children have todaythat is also a delight to read."Jonathan Kozol, author of Fire in the Ashes
"Splendid .Kohn's analysis is incisive, witty, and fun to read. In a manner that reminds me of Voltaire, Kohn brings clear and profound social criticism to a topic of great contemporary importance."William Crain, author of Reclaiming Childhood
"An insightful, well-informed, thorough analysis of the many false and hostile claims made about parents and children today. Kohn patiently dismantles myths about 'helicopter parenting,' every kid getting a trophy in every endeavor, and parents allegedly inflating their kids' self-esteem, and shows the myths to be not just without merit but destructive. Then he goes beyond the critique to provide a positive vision of parenting for our time, 'working with' kids rather than 'doing to' them. It's a vision that should be heeded."Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, coauthor of When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up
Kirkus Reviews, 4/1/14
Kohn attacks the status quo on child-rearing and parenting. Via research and interviews, Kohn closely examines the current media-backed perceptions of permissive and controlling parenting and contrasts them with actual data, deflating popular beliefs that children are now more spoiled and unruly than ever.
"A thought-provoking, semi-controversial scrutiny of modern parenting practices.