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The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Coddled Kids, Helicopter Parents, and Other Phony Crises

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  543 ratings  ·  96 reviews
Paperback, 280 pages
Published March 8th 2016 by Beacon Press (first published March 11th 2014)
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Start your review of The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Coddled Kids, Helicopter Parents, and Other Phony Crises
Nick Jones
Feb 23, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: social-science
I received a copy of this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.

I am of two completely opposing opinions in regard to this book. On the one hand, I find much of the research the author cites to be accurate, agree with a number of the conclusions he comes to, and overall see the educational system and typical parenting methods as generally failing to help kids fully realize their potential. On the other, Myth of the Spoiled Child is frustratingly ideological, frequently goes after opposing
Justin Podur
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, education
This book is the application of Alfie Kohn's parenting philosophy, set out in his book Unconditional Parenting, to current fashions criticizing today's parenting as too indulgent, children as too lazy, and of course, children as too spoiled. It turns out, Kohn argues, that being mean to children, having them compete against others, and controlling their behaviour down to the details - isn't very good for their development. It might seem obvious, but the book is full of evidence that it is very f ...more
Brittney Martinez
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Writing about what’s wrong with the youngest generation, also known as Millennials, has been exhausted as a subject. Mostly writers have come to blame bad parenting for all the ills of the world. No matter which side of the political spectrum you fall on, you’re likely to believe that strict parenting is the best way to go. Alfie Kohn, author of Myth of the Spoiled Child, challenges these commonly held beliefs and calls for a more balanced style of parenting.

Kohn does an excellent job easing the
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc
Alfie Kohn’s ideas are always radical and incendiary and this book is no exception. I’m a huge fan of all his writing, and find that his ideas crystallise concerns I have always had as a teacher and parent about the focus of contemporary education. It’s still confronting to read, though, as it forces the reader to examine the extent to which most of us rely on rewards, competition and unquestioning compliance to ‘educate’ our children.

I believe this may be the best of his books so far as it syn
April (The Steadfast Reader)
Originally posted here: The Steadfast Reader

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Confession time: I picked up this book as a hate read. I opened it with the attitude, "This is gonna be a crazy, liberal book on how we ought to be coddling out children and never setting in any boundaries."

Rather quickly, through citing studies, statistics, and history - Kohn was able to draw me around to his point of view and I found myself in agreement with many of h
Jerry Hillyer
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Title: The Myth of the Spoiled Child

Author: Alfie Kohn

Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books

Date: 2014

Pages: (preview copy e-book) via netgalley: 282

Author Page: Alfie Kohn

[You need to read this before you take another glance at this page: the FCC wants you to know that it is imperative information that I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I'm glad that's off my chest and I hope you feel better knowing it.]

I was warned about Alfie Kohn when I was in graduate school.
Hayley DeRoche
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Pro: Actual researched, scientific, statistical data to back up arguments against the "accepted-as-truth" claims of KIDS THESE DAYS being too narcissistic, their egos too tender, their parents too helicopter-y and permissive, how these kids need to learn grit if they're going to succeed, and delaying gratification is a skill worth cultivating rull hard. Turns out, a lot of it is based on what FEELS like should be true, but is often the exact opposite. There are so many "truisms" that we simply t ...more
Oct 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Heard a bit of an interview with him on NPR where he said timeouts were bad and only encouraged selfish behavior in kids and I got intrigued (and never had a chance to finish listening to the segment). However, as my first parenting book read, it was a total disappointment. It's really just an effort to debunk popular themes in the media today. I agree with many of the premises (doesn't every generation think kids these days are getting off easy, have inflated grades?), but Kohn takes many sensi ...more
Adam Ross
Everybody seems to think millennials are terrible; narcissistic, self-absorbed, spoiled, entitled, who get trophies just for showing up and demand everything automatically work out for them. But what if I told you the conventional wisdom was wrong? You probably wouldn't believe me. Which is why Kohn's book is so important. He digs into the actual empirical evidence, the research, the studies, and the science to show that not only is there no evidence that kids are overprotected, that they are an ...more
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another excellent Alfie Kohn book that deconstructs social presuppositions and stereotypes. Alfie digs deeper than our shallow values normally go and gets to more important foundations of what we want to see in children. A 'well-behaved' child sounds nice, but what does that mean? And what do studies reveal about non-autonomous, non-visionary, non-opinionated children who simply "do what they're told"? He didn't mention Nazi Germany; the connection was obvious.

I appreciated his chapter on how to
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book basically establishes a parenting/educational philosophy that is against any Biblical values. While I could agree with some of his ideas, he mostly had a very disparaging tone towards Christianity and the desire for children to obey. Believe it or not, parenting with Christian values is not synonymous with being an authoritarian. Not all commands are frivolous, and teaching obedience does not necessarily mean blind obedience. I imagine that if people followed the author's visions for p ...more
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miriam Cihodariu
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: usa, non-fiction
Everyone should read this book before having opinions on 'those spoiled kids'. Who knows, it might make them (the opinionated people) less obnoxious.
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kohn is very counter-cultural in his approach, but I do believe that he has a unique perspective as he takes on the research regarding permissive parenting, motivation, and questioning authority. I loved the last two chapters especially.
Erin Henry
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5. Makes you rethink a lot of assumptions.
Rob Lund
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so challenging and revolutionary to my thinking. I loved it from cover to cover.
Jason Scott
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
Audiobook. Great narration.

Alfie Kohn is a proponent of progressive parenting, and many other books like Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk are influenced by his writing. I really enjoyed this book as I felt like I was getting a better explanation of the psychological studies behind the beliefs in so many other books I read this year.

It's also just kind of fun to see someone unravel beliefs you have picked up in media and haven't really tho
La La
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is full of brilliant analysis and insight for sorting out what many studies and observations concerned with "modern parenting" are really saying about the state of our children. The author points out blatant contradictions, and in some instances, outright disconnectioins when it comes to criticisms of certain "new" parenting styles.

The author makes sure to back up every statement they make about what does and doesn't produce a child ready for succesful adulthood with: studies, data com
Tiffany K L
Jan 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy reading Kohn's radically progressive ideas which challenge our views of children. This book focuses largely on debunking myths about an existence of "the good ole days" when children knew their place-- it also examines popular buzzword phenomenons in education & parenting, such as "grit". It's a great read, just don't expect it to be a parenting book. It's more of a social psychology book focusing on society's view of children. Kohn is inspiring and makes a great case for working ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There certainly was a lot in this book to absorb! I would say it deserves a re-read, and it's the kind of book it would be worth having a copy of for that purpose, or to lend out. The real tragedy is that the people who would pick up and read this book aren't the ones who need convincing, and the people who need convincing aren't the ones who will read this book. Paying close attention to the material herein, and the scientific evidence cited supporting Kohn's position, will be a great resource ...more
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, Kohn's insight is appreciated if a bit skewed. I struggled with some confirmation bias reading it. Being a homeschool mom, I've made a lot of sacrifices for my son's well being. This book confirmed that we've done the right thing by him and in that in the long run, he can be a well-rounded, kind and successful kid because of, not in spite of, his upbringing.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not my favorite book by Kohn, but it makes good points and includes lots of research to support his position. I would recommend Unconditional Parenting or Punished by Rewards before this one.
Alfie debunks, debunks, debunks and gives the middle finger to "conventional" wisdom about parenting.

Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book showed up on a list of recommended nonfiction psychology books I came across, and it was an excellent book in that regard. In many ways, it is less of a parenting book and more of a socio/psychological text.

A logically argued, incisive examination of historically entrenched attitudes towards parenting. IT argues for giving children more autonomy and creativity, and for being less puritanical about their upbringing. It is a shame how heavily puritanism has embedded itself within the cul
Barbra Salas
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I rated this book an "I liked it a lot" 4 stars for a few reasons. First of all, it is an extremely well researched and scientifically minded book on behavior which thrills me to no end. However, it is a bit repetitive as these books tend to be. Mr. Kohn does do a good job of making it less dry though. I also didn't fully understand the section on competition. While I agree with him and with the research that says that intense competition can be bad for kids, it seemed like he was saying that co ...more
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
A thoughtful challenge to the conventional wisdom about parenting and "spoiled" children. It shows that the criticism leveled at this generation are the same complaints of every decade previous, and are based on three assumptions:
-rewards are necessary to motivate people
-these rewards should be made artificially scarce and given only to winners, and
-the best way to prepare children for future unhappiness and failure is to make them experience unhappiness and failure right now.

Kohn examines each
649.7 KOH

My review: In this book, author heavily attack what he dubbed as epidemic traditionalists views: children are spoiled, they are over indulgent, a sense of entitlement, less discipline, narcissism, high self-esteem, regardless what political view: Conservative vs. liberal. It is worth reading exactly because of author strong opposition of this current popular education trends. p8 The sensible alternative to overparenting is not less parenting but better parenting. The alternative t
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
The first half of this book was enjoyable, and I still plan on reading some more works by Alfie Kohn. Sections of this book elicited thoughts of how I as a millennial with an elementary school kiddo, can see both sides of the coin in so many ways. The systems are still the same for my kiddo as they were when I was in school.

The second half of the book I didn't really connect with, felt like repeating the same few sentences over and over again. Validating the same type of people over and over, w
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
This book refrain is 'be skeptical'. How to raise children in a world that is always telling them to conform. Kohn also tackles the inherent danger in straying from the 'strict' parenting model in raising kids.

Kohn also investigate how so many studies lead with anecdotal evidence and lack the rigorous data backed studies. Of particular note is how he takes on "Grit" and 10,000 hour rule. Our goal as parents should be "doing-with" not "doing-to".

very good book overall. Some level of repetition. D
Cristina Lungu
May 12, 2020 rated it liked it
It is an interesting book because it links the spoiling to a lot of areas that I wold not have thought of as being related.
Yet, I found it rather hard to read it, maybe because it references a lot of research,...and it took a lot of determination to go till the end ( even though even this perseverance in finishing something that you started, just for the sake of finishing, seems to be questionable in the book).
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Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. The author of eleven books and scores of articles, he lectures at education conferences and universities as well as to parent groups and corporations.

Kohn's criticisms of competition and rewards have been widely discussed and debated, and he has been described in Time magazine as "perhaps the country's most outspoken

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